Year B, 4th Sunday of Easter; John 10:11-18; Lectionary reading for April 25, 2021
Most people would have had a basic understanding of sheep and their care during biblical times, and so it made sense to use pastoral imagery. Last summer, I argued with my 11-year-old son that a picture of a cow wasn’t, as he thought, a sheep; and we kept sheep on our acreage for several years. Livestock just isn’t something most kids have any connection with anymore! If you have rural kids in your congregation, start by asking them what they have to do to keep their livestock healthy. If you minister to urban children, explain to them how much sheep need the shepherd. Sheep have no way of defending themselves from predators, have no sense of direction and get easily lost, and will happily eat weeds that will make them sick if they don’t see grass right under their noses. They are a bit like toddlers—completely dependent on someone else for their care. Thankfully, a good shepherd is a lot like a good parent.
A good shepherd makes sure the sheep are safe, fed, cared for, and most importantly, loved. The good shepherd knows the sheep by name (even though some people couldn’t tell them apart from cows) and the sheep know they can trust the shepherd and follow the sound of his voice. Finally, a good shepherd does whatever is necessary to protect the sheep. Sure sounds like a good parent to me! Hopefully, all the children in your care have a parent in their lives that this reminds them of. If you minister to children in foster care or adopted children, treat this metaphor with care so that you are not pointing out the faults of their biological parents.
Once you have explained that Jesus is talking about how much he loves and cares for us, you are ready to dive into this beautiful book. That’s Me Loving You by Amy Krouse Rosenthal explains that all of nature is God loving us. From a gentle breeze to a persistent mosquito, God’s love surrounds us. Whether we are with our families or off on our own, we can trust the warm feeling inside of us is the love of God.
Questions to ask before you read:
- How does your family show they love you?
- How is that like what a shepherd does with their sheep?
- How do you know they love you even when you aren’t with them?
Questions to ask after you read:
- What other ways do you think God is showing God loves you?
- What ways can you show God you love God?
This book makes me tear up every time I read it, so tuck a tissue in your sleeve before you start. Check with the families in your congregation and your library before you buy this book, but if you just have to have it on your shelf, please consider buying it through the links attached to the pictures. You’ll be supporting this blog with a small commission at no additional cost to you. Whatever you choose, please subscribe to this blog or to my Facebook page and spread the word about Storybook Ministry to your friends who minister to children.
Rosenthal, Amy Krouse. That’s Me Loving You. Random House Books for Young Readers, 2016.