Shepherdess – 1 August 2022
A young shepherdess stands watching her flock. She is on a hillside as the sun goes down, notice that the shadows are long. She leans into her staff – a comfortable feeling. The sheep graze contentedly, all facing in the same direction (to the left). This gives a sense of order to the picture, all is well with this flock. The shepherdess has gathered them and fed them.
The shepherdess stands with her back to the flock, so looking outwards. She is watching carefully for any danger. This flock is her sole charge. She is diligent and careful. She is also not very old. Young and female, this is what so many (the majority!) of shepherds have been through history.
The picture is ‘The Young Shepherdess’ by Winslow Homer (1878), a watercolour and pencil on paper.
God says: From now on, I myself am the shepherd. I’m going looking for them. As shepherds go after their flocks when they get scattered, I’m going after my sheep. I’ll rescue them from all the places they’ve been scattered to in the storms. I’ll bring them back from foreign peoples, gather them from foreign countries, and bring them back to their home country. I’ll feed them on the mountains of Israel, along the streams, among their own people. I’ll lead them into lush pasture so they can roam the mountain pastures of Israel, graze at leisure, feed in the rich pastures on the mountains of Israel. And I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep. I myself will make sure they get plenty of rest. I’ll go after the lost, I’ll collect the strays, I’ll doctor the injured, I’ll build up the weak ones and oversee the strong ones so they’re not exploited.
Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it, not for sordid gain but eagerly. Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away.
1 Peter 5:1-4
Bishops are called to serve and care for the flock of Christ. Mindful of the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, they are to love and pray for those committed to their charge, knowing their people and being known by them.
From ‘The consecration of a bishop’