The Sheep Pen Confession: 2

I am on a mission to create a mission, so to speak. It is a mission tinged with sorrow stemming from the way we communicate in a fractured world; where shamming and bullying are the norms. It leaves me with the feeling that our cultural and political leaders subsist as a media sideshow. So I wish to respond, but not in kind if possible.

My resolution is to seek a historic platform known as a confession. I wrote about the example of the Augsburg Confession in last week’s message. My own more modest attempt is captured in the title of this series, the Sheep Pen Confession, a statement of faith relevant to the times by being counterintuitive. It possesses a 60s LUV vibe with a little more substance hopefully.

The basis of my confession is a story about a leader who returns after a long absence. He seeks to reward his people upon his return and does so in keeping with their own behavior or lack thereof.

The story says the leader divided his people into two groups the way a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats. The criterion for admission into the sheep pen, the favored location, is determined according to six possible actions undertaken not only during the leader’s absence but implicitly on his behalf.

The six actions are: feeding the hungry, providing a drink to those who thirst, giving hospitality to strangers, clothing the naked, nursing the sick, and visiting those in prison.

The story does not commend: preaching sermons, praying lengthy prayers, building a mega-church, passing restrictive laws, shunning those who are different in any way, and submitting to a political agenda regardless of merit.

The story establishes three virtues, which form the substance of my confession. They are easy to remember by using the Sheep Pen Confession’s initials SPC to represent Service, Presence and Compassion. These three virtues are inherent in the actions which make one a sheep.

They also offer me the inspiration to write three more messages espousing the beneficial nature of each virtue. And I will confess in a different way. I believe the six actions mentioned above are exemplary but not exhaustive. Given time I may find more in my arsenal of virtues sorely needed to quell the chaos and the discontent.

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