Shepherd of today relates to nativity – UMC.org. (Follow link to read the rest of the story!)
“Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around the, and they were terrified.” (Luke 2:8-9, Common English Bible)
Each Christmas Eve when he hears the familiar account of the shepherds’ angelic visit, Glen Fisher has good reason to sit up a little straighter in his pew.
The United Methodist has herded sheep for more than 30 years on his ranch near Sonora in southwest Texas, and he is a respected leader in his profession. In January, Fisher will complete his two-year term as president of the American Sheep Industry Association, the national organization that represents the 82,000 sheep producers in the United States.
Sheep remain an integral part of U.S. agriculture. Farm flocks are raised in all 50 states, providing wool for mills as far away as China and meat for dinner tables closer to home. Fisher’s home state of Texas has the nation’s largest share of the industry, with more than 10 percent of the nation’s sheep producers and some 830,000 sheep and lambs as of this past January.
But Fisher, 63, takes special delight in being part of a profession referenced throughout the Bible and knowing that shepherds like him were among the first to hear the good news of Christ’s birth.
“I’m quite proud that even today all the Christians in the world know about shepherds and their sheep,” he says.
“The angel said, ‘Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you — wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord.'” (Luke 2:10-11)
Fisher’s work does not quite fit the standard Christmas greeting-card image of shepherds calmly caring for flocks with a shepherd’s crook and staff as their only tools.
These days, Fisher tends his flock of 1,800 ewes and about 60 rams with a big blue Ford pickup, a feed buggy and the help of two ranch-hands.
He mainly checks to make sure his livestock, which also includes cattle and goats, have enough water and feed in their concrete troughs. It is dusty and time-intensive work. Even with the feed buggy, it takes a man two days to feed all the livestock on his property. The feed troughs typically need refilling every 10 days.
He also checks the condition of the pasture, sees if any fences need mending and looks for the tracks and droppings of any potential predators.
Many people characterize sheep as dumb, but Fisher says that’s not entirely true. He has seen sheep fight off coyotes to protect their young. Ewes can always identify their lambs by the sound of their “bahs.”
“They are pretty smart animals,” he explains. “But there are times when they can try your religion. When you are trying to get them into a pen and they just stare at you, you get mad and say the words you shouldn’t.”
His big worry, for now, is the drought that has parched his community since late September. December is Fisher’s lambing season, and seeing the lambs play and climb is usually his favorite part of the job. However, he now he has more mouths to feed and thirsts to quench.