John 10:14-15 – I am the good shepherd. As the Father knows me and I know the Father, in the same way I know my sheep and they know me. (GNB)
I work on a university campus, and September is always an interesting but hectic month. The students, fresh from summer vacations or jobs, populate the campus to study in their respective fields. There is a friendly rivalry between various types of students, but especially between the engineering and agriculture students. It is not unusual to find slogans written with chalk on the sidewalks. One day when I was out walking between buildings, I read the following slogan: "They're not just sheep, they're family". Of course, the engineers were poking fun at the "agros", who love their sheep, and thus treat them as family.
It struck me that this message applies to us in our individual and church families. Jesus, the good shepherd, taught us the meaning of love. We have a God who knows us intimately, cares for us tenderly, and loves us unconditionally. We are not just God's sheep, but we are also members of his family. Following his example, we love and care for each other in our individual families, and by extension, in our church family as well. We are not just a group of sheep; we are also family to one another. As a result of this experience, God encourages us to reach out to others, to include them in his family as well.
Prayer: Loving God, we praise you for making us part of a family, your family called the church. Thank you for surrounding us with your love and care. Help us to reach out to others and include them in the family. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.