Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Good Shepherd/Dog Owner

Much of today's sermon from our substitute priest was taken up by two stories about family pets, dogs in particular. It was a bit of a stretch to swap out dogs for sheep on this "Good Shepherd Sunday" where the Gospel lesson was  John 10:11-16, especially when the closest thing to a dog in the lesson is a wolf.
"Jesus said, 'I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away-- and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.'"
Two connections drawn were about how dogs listen for their master's voice, and how they also know that their master will take care of them to the end.

We also are cared for and sought after by Jesus who will always be there even when we go astray.

If only we would listen for His voice instead of running around with our noses to the ground chasing after every fresh scent.

Since we are on the subject, and since I have never run away from a chance to tell a good dog story, let me share one as well.

Our family's first dog was what some might call an easily excited barking dog, the kind that we had to restrain whenever the mailman approached or when a stranger, especially the bug man, crossed the threshold. He hated the bug man!

In spite of his fierce sound and appearance, this same animal was a devoted pet, one that would sleep at the foot of my bed every night, and he had a therapeutic effect whenever life was difficult for us either as individuals or as a family. 

Plus he rarely barked at night.

This past week, our current four legged friends, large, intimidating beasts who rarely bark during the day, who are friends with the bug man, and who usually greet strangers with a holy kiss, have been hearing things outdoors in the night as we sleep. When this happens, they rush to the windows barking loudly, rattling both our windows and our nerves, waking us and forcing me to get up, to turn on the outside lights, and to check for any threats to our security.
Assured by their master that there is no immediate danger, we all return to our beds until the next episode.

One night it was a group of deer walking by, the next night it was a cat fight. 

I know the dogs are just doing their jobs, but I need my sleep.

Is it better to sleep securely, knowing that you are well protected but might be awoken at any time, or to sleep soundly, uninterrupted but less secure in the knowledge that something or someone is watching over you?

I pity those who do not sleep with the faith, comfort, and security that they have from a Savior watching over them. 



  1. I am the Good Dog Owner. Nice.

    My Blue Heeler has a hatred of mail trucks and potheads, but he loves the sound of gunfire. Fierce little warrior.

    God bless.

  2. Thunder and fireworks spook one of our guys, but the other must be a born retriever.

  3. Good Dog Sunday? Hmmm.

    1. Tonight they woke us by barking at an owl.

  4. "I pity those who do not sleep with the faith, comfort, and security that they have from a Savior watching over them." Agreed but our Airedales need to earn their keep too.

  5. Pewster,
    Beware "The Dog That Didn't Bark".

    1. Dale, That would be "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time"?

  6. Actually, yes. It is from the short story "Silver Blaze". I guess my prior phrase was a paraphrase and should not have had caps.

  7. Anonymous6:45 PM

    Just a guess as to why Scripture doesn't dwell on dogs, but I wonder if it is because all dogs, even the smallest of them, are descended from wolves. They are part lupine, every last one. (I speak as a dog lover.)

    Perhaps God transformed some of them, via man's intervention, for our benefit as pets and protectors.

    One supposes from a rector's viewpoint, dogs would be the obvious choice for a sermon about animals.

    Yet, he might have profited the congregation better by explaining to them how humanity is the valued herd of sheep guarded by the one true Shepherd.

    Best wishes

    1. Yes, a herd guarded not by the sheep dog but by Jesus!