The web site of the development Christian organisation called Word Made Flesh started publishing daily meditations on this Advent. I will try to connect you daily, as much as possible, with this initiative. Here is the first one.
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Among the Flock: What Are Really You Wired For?
by Margaret Feinberg
The presence of sheep during the Christmas season is unmistakable. I honestly don’t know why sheep are the most common animal mentioned in scripture, but I have a hunch that it’s no accident. Though sheep are not specifically mentioned in the account of Creation, God made these animals as a valuable source of food and clothing. Because of their usefulness, disagreements soon followed. From Abel to Abraham and Rachel to King David, we see many men and women caring for flocks. They are a normal part of life in the ancient agrarian society and often became crucial to a family’s and even an entire village’s survival.
Many of the prophets, including Hosea, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah, Nahum, and Zechariah use shepherd imagery. Even Amos, one of the most offbeat guys in the Bible, was a shepherd turned prophet. Waiting for the Messiah, the people eagerly anticipated the one who would “shepherd” Israel. This promised one was Jesus, the Son of God, the Good Shepherd.
With more than 600 references to sheep and shepherds and flocks throughout scripture, it raises the question: Shouldn’t we get to know more about these wooly creatures? That’s one of the reasons I travelled to Oregon to spend time with the shepherdess, Lynne, and wrote Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool, & Wild Honey. The scripture is just so much more alive when you see these wooly creatures in their context.