Gospel of John 10:11-18
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for
the sheep.  12 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.  13 The hired
hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the
sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know
me,  15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay
down my life for the sheep.  16 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.  17 For this reason the
Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up
again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.
I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I
have received this command from my Father.”

The following story is edited from an article written by Melissa Breyer
(October 17, 2017) entitled: “Odin the dog protects his goats during Sonoma fire, takes in
baby deer too.”

The stubborn guardian refused to leave his goats …
At 10:30 pm, October 2017, Roland Hendel smelled the smoke from the Tubbs fire
that would go on to devastate much of the city of Santa Rosa, California. Hendel
surveyed his property by ATV but saw nothing. By 10:55 the sky had turned
orange and he told his daughter to get ready to leave; 15 minutes later they saw the
first of the flames across the valley. The fire advanced at a rate of about 1 football
field every 3 seconds.

The Hendels gathered up the dogs and cat into the car, but Odin, their “stubborn
and fearless” goat-guarding Great Pyrenees refused to leave his charges.
“Even under the best of circumstances it is nearly impossible to separate Odin from
the goats after nightfall when he takes over the close watch from his sister Tessa. I
made a decision to leave him, and I doubt I could have made him come with us if I
tried. We got out with our lives and what was in our pockets,” recounts Hendel (in
a Facebook post).

Later that morning when we had outrun the fires I cried, sure that I had sentenced
Odie to death, along with our precious family of bottle-raised goats.”
As soon as they could return, they sneaked past evacuation roadblocks to find a
smoldering wasteland of forest, every structure was burned to the ground.
With little hope, the Hendels gazed across the landscape, looking for Odin and the
To their amazement, among the charred ruins, Odin and the goats appeared …
along with a few baby deer that Odin had adopted during the ordeal.
“Eight goats came running to see us and get cuddles and kisses. Dixon had a burn
on his back the size of a nickel. Other than that they were perfectly fine," says
Hendel. "Odin’s fur was burned and his whiskers melted, and he was limping on
his right leg.

Odin adopted several baby deer who huddled around him for safety and water from
the goats’ trough, which was miraculously intact and full of relatively clean

They were all taken to a shelter barn to rest comfortably; and Odin was given a
clean bill of health by the vet.
Writer, Mellissa Breyer, accounts, “The image of those sweet goats and Odin’s
selfless wagging tail among the charred moonscape of the Hendel's property is
salve for our hurting hearts.

Roland Tembo Hendel via Facebook

In his book, A Shepherd Looks at Pslam 23,
W. Phillip Keller reminds us that the Shepherd-guardian is the influential presence
in our life “who makes the difference in (our) destiny’.

In reality, who is your Shepherd?

In Washington Township, where I live, two of the three current Trustees, and one
or more former Trustees are proving themselves to be dangerously misleading

Some of us are fighting their decision to over-rule our Zoning Commission and
public opinion in order to sell beautiful land and the Hithergreen building to a
developer for high-density, higher-income housing in an older, established
residential neighborhood, my neighbrohood.

The developer’s deceptive campaign to build these new houses for profit and then
abandon the neighborhood is, in my opinion, unscrupulous.

Without us fighting for justice and our environment, we would be gobbled up by
society’s wolves, as self-serving shepherds gloat with their friends over their

Sadly, the image of the Good-Shepherd may one day be obsolete due to it
becoming an unfamiliar, unrelatable perception.

On this Earth Day weekend, people have worked hard to diminish the green
pastures and still waters of the earth.
There are fewer and fewer pastoral settings in which biblical imagery can come

Experience tells us that the number is rapidly decreasing of public ‘Shepherds’ we
can trust to positively influence and guide our destiny.

So, in reality, who is your ‘shepherd’?
Who or what is that significant external influence making a difference with your

Jesus invites us to accept him as our Good-Shepherd. We can trust him, because
he laid down his life for us. In Jesus we are confronted with self-giving love, and
new life within a meaningful relationship with our creator God.
In Jesus we see our worthiness, and the need for justice, as well as God’s action in
offering significant, loving influence for our destiny.

In Jesus we see the value of all creation.
God is the companion and champion of those considered least, whether people,
animals, water or land. We need to fight against those who are aimed at abusing
and destroying creation, and encourage community green spaces, gardens, and
youth projects protecting and caring for our environment.

In Jesus we see the need to work with him
and one another to continuously unveil
on earth God’s Kingdom of justice, peace, compassion and love.

In Jesus we have a Good-Shepherd,
but unlike sheep, it’s our choice.

Though often vulnerable, we can choose to side with that which is good and
healthy for us and all creation.

The story of Jesus encourages us to trust in God’s gift of love revealed in Jesus, the
Good-Shepherd, and then perpetuate that love.

The inspirational story of the dog Odin and his persistence and courage during the
Santa Rosa fire is perhaps a sign that good-shepherding is not completely lost to
our time. (Paraphrase from Synthesis, Easter 4, Year B, 2018)

In reality, who or what is that influential presence guiding your destiny? Who or
what is that to which you yield and trust your life?
Let it be Jesus.