Jacqueline J. Lewis 04-20-2015
Photo via Vibe Images /

Photo via Vibe Images /

I had the sense, as a child, that God’s goodness and mercy would only follow me all of the days of my life if I was “good” and Christian. And I had the sense that good and Christian was a narrow way.

This meant two things. First, only “good” people, loving and kind people, people who had not erred or strayed or made mistakes or broken the law or never “back-slid” were the sheep worthy of grace and mercy. Second, only Christian people were in the fold. Not Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs — no, the steadfastly loving God had only space for those of us who accepted Jesus and our Lord and Savior AND who had lived sinless lives.

My child-like sense of “good” shifted when I was a teen serving as an elder in the Seventh Presbyterian Church in Chicago. Being up close and personal with my pastor, the late Rev. Oliver Brown, III and the adults around the table were first- hand lessons of the wide-open space of God’s love in Jesus Christ.

These good people — ordained people — were flawed and funny. They fussed and fought. They forgave each other, as God forgave them. My idea of good stretched and breathed and exhaled judgment and inhaled, experientially, that only God is good, that God in Jesus Christ shows this goodness in a particular way, and that all of God’s people are flawed and loved.

As a young adult before seminary, living life in the world, working, loving, breaking up, making up, having growing pains about identity and purpose and vocation, my spiritual muscles strengthened around the concept of the good shepherd who would love me enough to come and get me if I wandered.

Jesus is the ideal shepherd, the model shepherd, the best kind of shepherd; the one who makes the promises of God available to all of God’s people by laying down his life for the sheep.

I had not yet made the leap but most certainly have now to John 10:16.

I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

This loving Shepherd has a huge and diverse flock. 

Richard S. Ehrlich 10-16-2013

Screenshot from Photo via RNS.

Muslims in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and elsewhere went online to buy live cows and goats for the traditional Islamic Feast of Sacrifice, known as Eid al-Adha, because shopping on the Internet was easier than going to crowded street markets to buy the animals.

“The purchase of sacrificial animal [online] has gained popularity as it is found to be the most convenient way of buying an animal for the ceremonious day,” Pakistan’s The Nation newspaper reported Wednesday.

Martin L. Smith 08-15-2013

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle C

Ryan Beiler 06-29-2011

We met 10-year-old Noor Al-Abid in November during our first visit to Gaza.

Chris LaTondresse 03-01-2011

"Farewell Rob Bell." With this three word tweet John Piper -- senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist church in Minneapolis, Minnesota and elder statesman of the neo-reform stream of American Christianity -- triggered an online firestorm over the weekend.

This hymn can be a helpful one for churches seeking to support the relief efforts in Pakistan.
Jeannie Choi 10-28-2009

There are several factoids about John Ringhofer that elicit fandom, and none of them have anything to do with his music:

  1. He still uses a CD walkman
  2. He lives rent-free in a church in Berkeley, California, where he serves as the custodian.
  3. He often attends two to three church services a Sunday because he loves the art of sermonizing.
  4. He is a nice guy.
Efrem Smith 04-14-2009
In this sermon, Pastor Efrem discusses the focus in April on Martin Luther King's death and the Easter Season, and proclaims that there is no separation between proclaiming the gospel and advancing
Diana Butler Bass 12-06-2008

When I opened the sixth window on the Advent calendar, a very traditional Christian picture greeted me: a shepherd carrying a sheep.