Last night I attended the best carol service of my life. I loved it, even the bible reading bits which is unusual for me as I find the language of the Church (any church) rather irksome. I don’t know whether the season had softened my resolve or if I was coming down with something but even the bit about Christ lighting up the darkness made sense to me. I was quite literally gob smacked.
That was until they mentioned the ‘F” word.
What is it with Christians and flocks?
Why do we have to be sheep?
I rather fancy myself as a wolf or something new-age like a dolphin but a sheep…..
The term ‘The Lamb Of God’ apparently appeared for the first time in the Gospel of John 1:29. I looked that up on Google as I can’t find my bible (I do have one and I promise you I have read it) and was referring to Jesus who came down to earth to save us from our sins and obey the word of the lord our God.
And then we come to Psalm 23 (well there are other bits but I’ve tried to find the most interesting – in my opinion).
The LORD is my shepherd
I shall not be in want
He makes me lie down in green pastures
He leads me beside quiet waters
He restores my soul
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they will comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
and so on and so forth…..
I remember singing this in primary school and wondering about the sheep. I lived near to a field of sheep and would often go up to the fence and collect the wool from the barbed wire and save it so that I might make a jumper. I loved the sheep but never wanted to be one. They seemed relatively stupid to me (I have since discovered that they are not entirely absent of faculty) but I still liked them, they had innocent eyes and a playful cute jumpy nature when lambs. The only trouble was that I was hideously allergic to them and didn’t want to be one.
My journey to Sunday school and regular school took me past sheep-filled paddocks reminding me that to be good I had to be more sheep like. THAT didn’t sit well. I am a born individualist, a cutter of my own path, a questioner, an independent thinker, a free spirit – ANYTHING BUT A SHEEP.
The idea that GOD was my shepherd and that I was a sheep made me feel sick to the stomach.
And it still does a bit.
As a young girl I remember feeling that all this talk of obedience, goodness and shepherding was exactly what you needed if control and world domination was your poison. I remember feeling that the people (men – that hadn’t escaped my notice) that ran the church were quite smart really and that it would be a lot easier to pull our strings if we believed we were helpless without them. I tried the tactic on my sisters. It was fun. For me. Until I got caught (and not by the GOD man).
At that time I thought GOD was a man on a cloud and rather than question the idea of GOD being a person I started my own one-child campaign for GOD to be a woman who could fly and who sent down fairies to help us when we were in trouble. Fairies that you could meet if you walked around a hill at midnight on a full moon. Maybe my mum dropped acid in my bedtime milk or maybe I was just naturally ‘special’…..
And with that I guess it’s time to review the situation 2013 style.
Although my view of many things has evolved since childhood the truth that I felt as a child about the language of Christianity still resonates and was strongly triggered last night.
Herd mentality is a reality amongst humans and is something that we are capable of on many levels. We have all been compelled to go into a busy store to ‘see what the fuss is about’ – because we don’t want to miss out/ are naturally curious/ are bored. Have seen that when the London stock market sneezes, Tokyo catches a cold. That when enough people tell you that the band “One Direction” are good you start humming along to their tunes. Maybe we are no different to sheep? Maybe we do need a shepherd?
But that’s where the likeness fades for me.
We are capable of so much more and our herd instinct (in my opinion) represents our lowest level of consciousness and that’s my point.
If that is true, why would any religion try to keep us at a low-level of self-realisation? What good could come from that other than the conspiracy theory that I identified as a 10-year-old wolf girl…..
Well I don’t know but last night I saw at least a glimmer of hope in the service. Jesus was described as the one who came to lighten up the darkness, to enlighten us and unite humanity.
That sounds rather like the meaning of the Sanscrit word ‘Namaste’ and I’ve always loved that.
And I’ve never had any problem with the Jesus man. The prophet.
And as for Flocks.
Ten years in the corporate world might have taught me that I am not a ‘in the box’ kind of girl but it also taught me that boxes are useful, necessary, comforting even and that while it was OK for me not to like them it wasn’t OK for me to try to wreck them for everyone else.
Churches are no different to that.
Flocks work as well for the ‘corporate’ church as they do for the individuals within them. If they didn’t the world of organised religion would have collapsed years ago but it didn’t, it won’t ever.
I find my comfort and joy in processing things on my own terms. From observing, learning, allowing myself to be taught and from connecting with others. Doing that with an open heart and mind can be challenging as we all have our baggage and pre-conceived ideas but I am learning that can make it extra surprising and fun.
I remain allergic to sheep but they no longer get my goat (oh and if you are interested, that’s what the bible named its non-believers). Interesting……
Amanda the wolf woman (don’t wolves eat sheep????)
PPS: I did quite a bit of research about the origin of the ‘flock’ and how this translates to modern ministry’s and found this interesting. This article on Christian leadership also caught my eye and highlighted another reason why I rebel against it. This is personal BTW, I’m not advocating that everyone do as I do. I am not a shepherd.