A lesson in a field in Scotland

The sheep were all around me, even a few lambs, as I sat on the hill. It was one of those moments I’ll never forget and I’ll probably never repeat in all my life.   I was on a team of college students from America who desired to serve in a foreign mission trip and had the chance to spend the summer in Scotland.  Each day we would walk from the university in Edinburgh (where we stayed in a flat) to the church we served doing Bible clubs for kids and youth events.  On the walk each day we would pass through a field filled with sheep.  In Scotland it is common to allow people to pass through private fields even building  gates for people to enter and exit through the pasture.  No matter how slowly you moved through the field the sheep were always terrified and ran.  I found myself thinking often about these sheep and tried to make friends with them although they never were interested in the Americans.   I often tookmy free time in that field with God’s Word and found myself drawn to passages like Psalm 23, Isaiah 53, John 10 and 1 Peter 5 - - passages about sheep.   On this particular day as I sat there all of a sudden I watched the sheep stir.  Sheep that spent most of the day looking down at the grass were all looking up and in the same direction.  It was then that I saw a man in the distance.  He didn’t dress any differently than I and he wasn’t speaking loudly – but he was speaking and the sheep paid attention.  As he came through the gate, the sheep moved together quickly, many of them in full sprint toward this man.  I followed too, which I’m sure made the man nervous, but I wanted to speak to their shepherd.  I had spent time with the sheep now I wanted to meet the one who they trusted in.  His voice, a thick soft spoken Scottish brogue, spent little time telling his story and awhile telling their stories.  He knew the sheep well – telling me names and characteristics of his flock.  Even though it was English I didn’t understand a lot of what he said as he often laughed through his words.  I do remember him saying something profound, “Ye cannee elp buh luuuuv em.”

 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”  - - Jesus (John 10:27-30)

It would be several dozen years later that God would bring this image back to me and I would become a shepherd  myself- -

“shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you, not for shameful gain, but eagerly, not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”  (1 Peter 5:2-4) 

Have you ever wondered what I’m thinking of ya’ll when I look out at you on any given Sunday?  I am proud of who you are, for your love for Jesus, for your passion to serve Him, and your progress in your witness of Him …  “Aye canne elp buh luuuuv ye!”

The team’s work that summer in Edinburgh, Scotland would prove to be transformational in my desire to serve God through ministry.  I love what God does through teams and I am grateful for the team of shepherds I serve with.   This Christmas the staff at Ogden would like to thank you for letting us serve you and your families in the pasture of Ogden Church!

Merry Christmas from the staff at Ogden Church!

We luuuuv ye!

Pastor John Maguire