Sunday, Wendy choose to color her bulletin about lost sheep and the Great Shepherd. She didn’t have white, so, she colored all the hidden sheep green. It made me start thinking about what color sheep I would be.
In my family, I’m a black sheep. Okay, because of the way in which I stick out, I’m probably more like a blue sheep in a red herd. At any rate, I’m the single mom in a family with mostly stable marriages. I’m the doctoral student that can’t get a job in a family where people use their degrees. I’m the Lutheran in a family of Assembly of God parishoners.
Every family has a black sheep – there’s Aunt Mary who saves beer cans to decorate the house,
Uncle Justin, who is constantly looking for additions to his All-Kiwi Cookbook, Cousin Keri who mutters Scripture all through the 3-D movie, Brother Duane who talks to squirrels in the park, Sister Katie who interviews dogs and then there’s Tamara, the family friend that’s close enough to be considered family, but who sometimes gets a little wild at family functions and starts talking about sex.
Often, we see the black sheep as something less desirable. They stick out — in a bad way, a garish mark on the family, something we discuss behind their backs, titter about as a joke or try to cover up with a vow of silence.
I’m not the only black sheep in my family. My dad was incarcerated when I was six years old. He spent months in a minimum security prison and NO ONE TOLD ME, until I was 21. He and I have talked about it since, and he swore everyone to silence because he was afraid of what I would think.
Black sheep come in two varieties. The ones that flaunt their difference, proudly fly their freak flag, revel in the unique characteristics that have colored their fleece. Others are ashamed of their wooly coat.
While every family has a black sheep, there is one family that’s composed of nothing BUT black sheep, the Church.
“Feed my lambs… take care of my sheep … feed my sheep” Jesus to Peter in John 21.
We’re a family whose head is a spotless, pure, white Lamb. In comparison, we are all blackened by sin and shame.
When God looks at us, though, he doesn’t see our black nature, he sees us through the blood of that Lamb, and we are rendered spotless by virtue of his Grace. In the family of Jesus, we are all black sheep, but we’re also supposed to be taking care of our darkly colored brethren – feeding and caring for them, just like family.
Design a new sheep breed – complete with color scheme AND/OR why are you the black sheep of your family?