Advent 23: Like sheep.

Two days til Christmas and the mall was congested all the time. Now that school was out, kids were with their parents.  Many were “stabled” in the play place. From time to time, a kid would stand up and look around. An adult would speak a name. The kid would turn toward the voice, get oriented, and go back to playing.

I had been watching while waiting for Nancy. The women’s room was congested, too.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me,” said a voice next to me. I laughed.

“They look a little like sheep,” I said to Saint John. Because that’s who it was. “Though it feels a little more like, ‘All we like sheep have gone astray.’”

And then I found myself humming. It was the bass part from “All We Like Sheep.” It’s a movement in Handel’s Messiah. For its blend of music and lyric, it’s probably my favorite movement. 

IMG_2419.JPGI had attended a performance this year for the first time in decades. I’ve been so busy with church stuff, body and mind and soul, that I haven’t had the time or attention to stop and listen. 

Actually, this year we attended a dress rehearsal. It meant that we could listen to the chorus pieces and didn’t have to listen through all the solos. Hope’s in the chorus, so that’s why we could attend the rehearsal.

As we were listening to the chorus and the orchestra rehearse, and the directions from the conductor, I realized that it’s more fun to participate in the Messiah than to simply listen. To be part of something that demands focus and awareness of those around you and willing obedience to the directions of the conductor.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me,” John repeated.

“You said that,” I scolded. Then I stopped. “Was Jesus talking about an orchestra?”

I knew he wasn’t, but the idea of following a conductor was giving me a new picture of the sheep images. Although we like sheep have gone astray, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all, when we listen to his voice, like sheep we can be led beside still water.

“I think this year, listening to the “Messiah” was part of restoring my soul.” I finally said.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me,” John said again. “Listening to the Messiah is always part of restoring your soul. 

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

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