Thursday, March 24, 2005

He Shall Feed His Flock

For the last two weeks, in preparation for Easter, we've been listening to Handel's Messiah. It is a particularly wonderful recording by the Gabrieli Consort and Players, which attempts to render a robust, playful, passionate Messiah which is true to Handel's vision. I could listen all day to this exciting music. It calms me, energizes me, puts me in touch with God. The selection of texts is of course, appropriate to this season of the year, and one wonders how it ever came to be associated with Christmas at all.
Anyway, we (I mean Rob and I) have also been reading Parker Palmer on scarcity and abundance. Somehow when Palmer's words come into contact with Handel's music, the whole notion that "He shall feed his flock" comes alive. I am nurtured. Fed. My anxiety about a myriad family stresses disappears. I feel carried in Christ's arms.
When I was a child my uncle, a fine artist, painted a mural on the Sunday School walls. Jesus with the flock. I can see it still. Perhaps some would consider the image sentimental and dated now. As a child I was captivated by the larger than life size figures. It goes with Messiah, scarcity and abundance and Easter.
When my oldest daughter was about seven months old, we were ministering in a rural parish a long way from the place we call home. We spent a lot of time on the road going from town to town, visiting our outlying flock, holding small meetings, doing 'the work'. On one of these trips we pulled over to the side of the road to watch a flock of sheep with their lambs. It was snowing. A gloomy day, overcast and bitterly cold. We couldn't get out of the car, but our daughter waved and cooed at the lambies. The hillside was scarcely green, but the lambs frisked about. It was as if they were aware of the abundance which was their inheritance. They didn't look at all nervous that there wouldn't be enough grass when the time came. So Handel, and Parker Palmer, Jesus caring for the flock on the Sunday School walls, and newborn lambs on a stark hillside near Parrsboro Nova Scotia.
This year we have a new grandson, named Robbie after his Papa, whom he already loves. When Robbie was born he was very small and had to spend the first week of his life in hospital. The medical reasons for this are not important. What is important is that he is thriving today. At two months old, he is meeting his benchmarks and is close to double his birth weight. Abundance. Answers to Prayer. Jesus carrying the lambs. Handel. Parker Palmer. Sheep and lambs on a hillside in the snow.
Whatever the initial appearances, I do believe that there is enough and plenty. I have experienced this to be true this year. And this is my Easter blessing for you all.


annie said...

Hi Connie, I came over to visit after your comment on my blog. I had just added a new post and this post of yours speaks to some of my fears.

I don't know if you were referring to the verse that says he shall lead his flock like a shepherd, he shall carry the lambs in his arms, and gently lead those that are with young. Somewhere, I learned that verse as a song, and used to sing it to the very child who is now breaking my heart.

It is a great comfort to be reminded that, even though my child is now much older, God still will lead us gently through these times.

I'm so glad you stopped by my blog. I am looking forward to reading more of your blog.

bobbie said...

oh yay, didn't know you were reading palmer - hope you're enjoying him as much as i do.

i love the idea of our feeding flock living in abundance - beautiful!