Monday, June 15, 2009

Precious Sheep

How much are sheep worth?

If you've ever listened to Good Morning Ulster or Evening Extra on BBC Radio Ulster, you'll have heard the listing of prices at the various livestock markets and marts around the province. Among them, there's always mention of hoggets. No, I didn't know what hoggets were either. Seemingly they are last year's lambs, one year old before they have grown their first two adult teeth.

How much are they worth? A recent sale at Markethill had sheep going for about £3.50 per kilo, which works out at about £85 for a lamb.

But it's not the price of sheep I want to talk about. Rather, it's the value of another kind of sheep. The flock of the Good Shepherd, the Church.

Last night, at the end of the ordination service, the Bishop gave a final charge to the newly ordained Presbyters - the new under-shepherds of the Lord. Here's what he says:

Remember always with thanksgiving that the treasure now entrusted to you is Christ's own flock, bought through the shedding of his own blood on the cross. The Church and the congregation among whom you will minister are one with him; they are his body. Go forth to serve them with joy, build them up in faith, and do all in your power to bring them to loving obedience to Christ.

What is the value of the sheep? Not gold or silver 'but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.' (1 Peter 1:19). The people of God are his, bought with his blood. This shapes and informs every aspect of my work - the Lord Jesus died for the people I meet.

How precious the flock is, and what great cost to the Son of God, who is the Chief Shepherd of our souls.

1 comment :

  1. The old service for the ordination of priests set the responsibilities forth in much more unambivalent terms:

    "Have always therefore printed in your remembrance, how great a treasure is committed to your charge. For they are the sheep of Christ, which he bought with his death, and for whom he shed his blood. The Church and Congregation whom you must serve, is his Spouse, and his Body. And if it shall happen that the same Church, or any Member thereof, do take any hurt or hindrance by reason of your negligence, ye know the greatness of the fault, and also the horrible punishment that will ensue".

    Not something to take lightly!