Traveling to a new place can be a great adventure. The most venturous are more than willing to take even an unmarked road if they feel it holds the possibility of new knowledge or experience.

But even the most foolhardy traveler wants to believe they can find their way to a familiar path if they come to fear they might be lost.

Christians who are on the way know they have an ever-present companion in the journey, a shepherd always there to guide.

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"Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out."

John 10:1–3

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If you were a fan of the TV show Cheers, or have ever seen any episodes on Netflix, you probably remember its theme song. Maybe you can even sing it from memory: “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.”

It’s a comforting song, cute without being cloying, and a reminder that names and community are important. Names tell us that we are not anonymous and interchangeable, but unique creatures of God who are known and loved. We have distinct gifts and ways of being; we are blessed when we a find a place that knows and accepts us for who we are.

We can take a valuable lesson from the sheep—they know who cares for them. They recognize the voice of their shepherd and listen when he calls to them. When have we done the same?

Christine Vogel

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Loving God, give me ears to listen when you call me by name. As you go before me, give me wisdom to follow. Amen.

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When my paper heart’s in a frantic wind
And I fear I'm all alone,
My whisper is heard when I call out to him
And I follow the shepherd home.

All the burdens weighing on my back
Aren't so heavy after all.
Faith is knowing you need only ask.
You can follow the shepherd home.
You can follow the shepherd home.

From "Follow the Shepherd Home" by Mindy Smith

Christine Vogel

Christine Vogel is an ordained teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She has been a parish pastor, a college chaplain and, most recently, the dean of students at McCormick Theological Seminary. She is currently completing a course of studies to be certified as a spiritual director. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Paul.

How Great Thou Art

Clay Mottley

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