My home congregation is Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. For as long as I can remember, their logo has included a silhouette of Jesus as shepherd, holding a long staff. They have a beautiful metal (iron?) sculpture of a shepherd carrying a sheep. Their columbarium, which I have yet to see in person, includes a life-sized statue of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.

photo by weewillyd on used with permission.

And yet, despite all those years surrounded by the image of our savior as a shepherd, I have few ideas on what to preach for Good Shepherd Sunday! For me, the shepherd has simply always been one of the primary images of God, accepted almost without question – in the same way, I suppose, that people over the years have accepted images of God as an old man with a beard, or as a king on a throne, or even as a descending dove. Isn’t it amazing how our art and iconography can shape our understanding of God?

This week’s RCL texts include two specifically focused on the image of God as shepherd. If you are preaching on one of these, please share your ideas below!

But perhaps you’re following Acts through this season of Easter. What does it mean this week to have the Gospel proclaimed by the lips of prisoners? Since the very beginning of our religion, preachers have been getting arrested simply for following Jesus. How does this relate to you experience of faith, either personally or as a congregation? How might it change your sense of urgency surrounding the message of Jesus, or your advocacy on behalf of prisoners?

I’m planning to use 1 John as the sermon text this week. The first two verses summarize the gist of Christianity to me – Jesus gave his life for us, so following his model, we are to give sacrificially to others. This is how we show God’s love to one another. Obviously, this is not an easy instruction to follow most of the time! But it is clearly stated here, and a good reminder to put our faith into action. Each individual and each congregation will show sacrificial love in a different way. What might it look like for your community?

As always, preachers, best wishes on your worship prep this week! Please share your ideas, questions, and relevant links below. Many blessings to you this Eastertide.

Katya Ouchakof is an ELCA pastor in Madison, WI. She is passionate about justice issues, particularly pertaining to women. Her newest favorite hobby is reading the Star Wars Little Golden Books to her nephew (age 4) and niece (age 2.5).

RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

17 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Good Shepherd Edition

  1. In the late 90s (1999 I think) I visited Bulgaria for 10 days. We stayed in Razlog, a smaller city with few cars, one resident American Peace Corp worker (my friend) , and one shepherd. WE watched in amazement as he walked through the town every morning and the sheep AND goats would come out fo their yards and follow him. He collected everyone’s animals and took them into the hills to graze for the day. Around 4 PM he returned and walked through town again, each animal knew where it belong, he didn’t need to prod them, they simply walked into their own yard docile and full from a safe day on the hillsides. It was a wonder to see- peaceful, collected together, sheep from ‘other’ pastures all together. Whenever I read passages about the Good Shepherd,I think of this quiet man doing his job so well each day.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. What a cool story! I hope you’ve used it in sermons before. Are you ok with other preachers borrowing your story?


  2. FOTW has a great paragraph about what Barbara Brown Taylor wrote in one of her sermons. I struggle with calling sheep both Psalm 23 and John 10 indicate we are the sheep. There is also the tidbit from Walter Brueggemann that being a shepherd in the OT was a political statement. I am going to preach more from the 23rd Psalm than John but that’s all I’ve got right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Tonight’s work project is to finish the call to worship and offering prayer… yours is inspiring my creativity!


  3. I am preaching from 1 John as well. Speaking from a very non-agricultural background, it strikes me that the shepherd’s care for the flock is not theoretical, but practical–as are John’s instructions on how to love one another. Love is visceral. Hands on. Incarnational rather than propositional.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This Sunday is yet another of the Holy Mash Ups for this liturgical year: Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day, Easter April Fools, and now Earth Day and Good Shepherd Sunday. Are you making connections? Pointing out contradictions. I’m reading James Rebanks The Shepherds Life. It occurs to me that one thing a good shepherd is is very close to the earth. Also, according to Rebanks, another thing a good shepherd is is wicked smart.


    1. I’m basically ignoring the good shepherd, but the connection between caring for animals and earth day had occurred to me too. Thanks for pointing it out! Hopefully many folks are remembering it in the prayers of the day, if not in their sermons.


    2. It occurs to me that putting love into action includes ensuring food is available so when the Good Shepherd is tending the sheep would there not also be a responsibility to ensure the land has been taken care of so the sheep could eat/survive?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m sure I will mention Earth Day but it won’t be a focus. I’ve been struck by the physicality of the Easter readings. I’m come to the Good Shepherd passage with the echoes of Jesus eating with the disciples after the Resurrection. For what it’s worth, I’m wrestling with what it means to embody Christ, be the Body of Christ where we find ourselves. These are my early thoughts:

    Liked by 1 person

We hope you'll join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.