Friday, May 1, 2009

Modern Day Urban Shepherds?

Yesterday in the weekly lectionary study and discussion group I attend, we wrestled with, among other things, the relevancy of the Shepherd imagery in a modern urban setting. The text we were considering was John10:11-18 and Jesus’ statement “I am the good Shepherd . . .” Far removed from rural America, not to mention Scotland, Ireland or New Zealand, and in farther away from rural Palestine, most modern city dwellers have never seen a real life sheep except in a zoo. So what to do? What contemporary image carries some of the same meaning as that of a shepherd?

Some of the images to replace that of a shepherd that we discussed were Dog Walkers, Child Care Workers, and Home Health Aides, as well as Firefighters, Police Officers and School Teachers. More specifically we reflected upon Captains of airliners who set their planes down in rivers and check to make sure all the passengers have disembarked before they are the last person to leave the plane, and Captains of cargo ships who allow themselves to be taken hostage by pirates in order to protect the lives of their crew.

What other images work for you?


Jody Harrington said...

Great question! I love your image of the two heroic captains.

Being from Texas, the first thing that came to mind was the cowboy -- but that's a lot like a shepherd.

John Edward Harris said...

We actually did think of cowboys, or more specifically gauchos, but the image did not seem to work for urban dwellers in New York City. There are usually five of us that gather for the lectionary group and I honestly cannot remember who first floated the images of the two captains.