December 5, 2022 "I was standing in line..."
December 14, 2022, 4:02 PM

I was standing in line...

…at the Tractor Supply, waiting to pay for the fifty pounds of dog food my Lab goes through every six weeks. Like most of us, I killed a little time checking out the surrounding displays to see if there was anything I couldn’t live without. And that’s when I saw it: a display of Christmas ornaments shaped like farm animals. There were cows, horses, chickens, ducks, goats, and sheep. Those sheep didn’t look like most Nativity sheep which are white and often depicted as lying down. The Christmas sheep in that display were fully grown, with black faces that seemed to look at me as if trying to decide if I was worth their time. Of course, I had to have one for my tree. It would hang next to my green John Deere tractor. So, I paid for my dog food and my strong sheep ornament and went on my way. I put the ornament in the closet until it was time to decorate the Christmas tree.
Last week, I hung my John Deere tractor and removed the sheep ornament from its wrappings. That’s when I discovered that my strong sheep was missing a leg. How could this have happened?! The sheep had been carefully packed and stored! I checked the wrappings; no leg. I looked at it closely, the bottom of the leg was the same color as the three, intact legs, which meant it was a manufacturing error. How could I have not noticed this in the store?! My strong sheep had only three good legs! I wrapped it back up and decided to return it the next day for a perfect sheep with four legs. Then I returned to my tree decorating.
     And God spoke. “Why?” The message was clear, unmistakable, and overwhelming.
     I unwrapped the three-legged sheep. It still had the same no-nonsense look. It could stand just fine on its three good legs. It wasn’t perfect…but then, neither am I.
     Jesus is the Good Shepherd, so that makes us the sheep. We sheep come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities. And no matter how hard we try, we sheep are going to stumble. We are going to make mistakes. The Good Shepherd loves us anyway. We should do the same. We should “be Christ” for one another.
     I hung my strong, three-legged sheep on my Christmas tree. Next to my John Deere tractor. aaahhhh…….
Dr. Ann Hitt