Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things hath done, in whom His world rejoices;
who, from our mother’s arms, hath blest us on our way
with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

from “Now Thank We All Our God,” Martin Rinkart, 1636

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Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with celebration! Come before him with shouts of joy!

Know that the Lord is God— he made us; we belong to him. We are his people, the sheep of his own pasture.

Psalm 100:1-3

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We are God’s people. So, let’s talk about sheep. It’s kind of a strange way to compose a hymn about how much we (humans) mean to God. Let’s go with it for a moment. Let’s talk about why it’s a good thing to be sheep.

To get the comparison you have to look at the writer’s context. Picture the writer of this psalm, most likely a young shepherd named David, sitting in the rocky but rich landscape just outside the desert, looking over the land, dotted with the flock of animals that provided food and a living for his family.

Sheep required great care and protection. They were kept safe by the shepherd’s strict daily practices of counting, watching, listening, and even defending. Sheep required constant — incredibly focused — attention to their roaming, feeding, and keeping. Sheep were incredibly valuable AND well worth the effort.

The young shepherd, gazing out at the flock, felt grateful. Picture him in that gratitude, taking a moment to say a prayer of thanksgiving. For he realized: this is the way God must feel about him. About us. About you.

Gina Yeager-Buckley

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O God, who counts each of us, who notices all of us, who gazes upon us, as we wander through our days seeking attention, care, and protection – I get it! I see how you value us all. And God, I am grateful. Amen.

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O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
and keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills in this world and the next.

from “Now Thank We All Our God,” Martin Rinkart, 1636

Gina Yeager-Buckley

Gina Yeager-Buckley serves as the national Associate for Ministries with Youth for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Reflections on the Way: Lord I Want to Be a Christian - This Is My Father’s World

Ken Medema

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