Saturday, April 20, 2013

Good Shepherd Sunday 2013

      Almost any Sunday could properly be named Good Shepherd Sunday, and, yet, the Sunday set aside for that special focus is the Fourth Sunday of EASTER.   Marion Hatchett tells us that "in many of the ancient baptistries Jesus was depicted as the Good Shepherd."     One can imagine many reasons this could be the case but that which comes most readily to mind right now is Paul's discussion about Baptism in Romans, "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried there with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." (Rom. 6.3-4)..Easter, and Easter Eve in particular, have long been "the" times for Holy Baptism.

      Another place this imagery appears is in the catacombs and in other burial places.    See this image

This appears in the center of the ceiling of the "Velatio" cubicle in the Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome.: the Good Shepherd (also sheep and doves with olive branches in trees).  It dates from the second half of the 3rd century.

Here is a modern "shepherd" image that I love.  It's by Jeremy Lundmark.

Birth and death are both times when it can help us to remember that the Good Shepherd leads us not only on the mountain of life, but also through the valley of the shadow of death.  Below is a 2011 performance by the Wells Cathedral Choir, Somerset - under the direction of Matthew Owens-  of Howard Goodall's very beautiful setting of the Twenty-Third Psalm.  May you be blessed.

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