Although the images of shepherd and sheep wind their way through these lectionary texts, they are difficult images for the contemporary church to embrace. Not only are most of us on this continent far removed from the practices of shepherding; we also believe that the notion has taken on a negative connotation. To describe someone as a sheep, in 2004, is an insult. I recall many of the adults in one congregation cringing during a children’s time a few years ago, when a well-intentioned volunteer tried to teach the children a song that had them “baa-ing” for Jesus. What are we teaching our children, some of us wondered: To follow the crowd without question? To have no mind of one’s own? To expect someone else to take care of us?