Sunday, 11 May 2014

On Being Without Benefit of Flock

This morning for the first time in what must be twenty three years, other than when on holiday, Jude and I went to church and sat together during worship. We didn't have to be there early, unlock any doors or prepare anything. All we had to do was show up, sit side by side, listen, respond and worship. We were warmly welcomed when we arrived and when it was over we lined up at the door, waited our turn, thanked the pastor and went home for lunch. We didn't know anybody except Julianna Wehrfritz-Hanson, the Pastor (We were at St Peter, Lutheran). It felt a little strange; incomplete some how; but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed not having to be "on."

Pastor Julianna preached on John 10 and our need for a Shepherd and of being part of his flock. She remarked on the dangers of being "without benefit of flock or Shepherd" all in the context of Mother's Day, parenting and the kidnapping of the school girls in Nigeria.

Pastor Julianna's phrase "without benefit of flock" impacted me particularly because, as we begin our retirement, I feel a bit like that's where we will be for a while as I make the transition from parish priest to parishioner at StB.

Being part of a flock has benefits. Safety is one. Having a Shepherd watching for and defending us against thieves and bandits is another. Predators always go for the individuals who are careless enough to wander from the flock. We are most vulnerable when we are alone.

So, even though the retirement and search for a new Parish Priest process means it's best we don't go to StB for a while, it's really important that we keep going to church during this time. Jude and I need the benefits of flock in the Church of Medicine Hat or wherever we are.

We all do.