Pssst… hey, you. Did you know that there’s a wild and wonderful God traveling alongside you, all around you, within you right now?

The Bible tells us that our God is like a shepherd who never leaves the flock for one moment. God is always with us. We are never alone, never abandoned. And no matter what we do – no matter what choices we make or what happens to us – this God is always reaching out to us in love.

So pause. Rest for a moment. Abide in the Holy. And let God’s grace transform your living and loving.

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“I am the good shepherd. I know my own sheep and they know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. I give up my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that don’t belong to this sheep pen. I must lead them too. They will listen to my voice and there will be one flock, with one shepherd.

John 10:14-16

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The way we use our voices matters. A lot. Not just whether we use kind words or mean words, but the very tone of our voice speaks volumes. The words we hear spoken again and again from parents, teachers, and the other adults in our lives eventually create a little soundtrack in our heads. And that’s often how we end up speaking to ourselves.

I hope that you’ve had adults in your life who have spoken kind words in loving ways. If so, I hope you will run that happy-sounding soundtrack in your mind and speak kindly to yourself. But I also know that some of you have parents or other adults who have called you names or berated you. You have extra work to do in order to re-write your soundtrack in a positive way.

Let God love you as you re-write that soundtrack in your head. Listen for the Good Shepherd’s voice, beckoning to you in love with the hope of healing and new life.

Caela Simmons Wood

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Shepherd-of-the-kind-voice, help me to attune my ears to you. When the rest of the world speaks words of harm, open my ears to your gentle voice. Help me always to remember that I am loved, named, claimed… and help me to share that love with others. Amen.

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Go into the day ahead renewed, restored, and reinvigorated to live out the Good News of God’s love. God, the Good Shepherd, who never leaves our side, travels with you into the day ahead – whatever it holds. May the goodness of the Holy One shine brightly from your heart on each person you encounter.

Caela Simmons Wood

Rev. Caela Simmons Wood serves as the pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Manhattan, KS. Caela is passionate about examining and dismantling systems of injustice, especially those related to race, gender identity, sexuality, and poverty. Caela lives with her husband (whom she met in youth group!), two sons, dog, and five hens (eggs!).

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