Zoe and I visited our friend George at the nursing home (“George’s house”) yesterday morning.
It turned out that we were just in time to join George at the monthly program offered by another local congregation. This month, it was three daughters and their mother playing piano and flute. It was a lovely concert, followed by cookies, coffee, and lemonade.
After exchanging a few of the most tender smiles with George–she looked at him and grinned, he looked at her and grinned, both perfectly quiet and perfectly open in their regard for one another–Zoe noticed the stained glass window at the front of the chapel.
“Is that the wise man and the sheep?” she asked.
“No, that’s Jesus and the sheep,” I said. Since the concert had already started, I didn’t say anything more.
On our way home from church last night, I mentioned this to Mike, assuming that Zoe wasn’t listening. (Pro Tip: Never assume a child is not listening. You will be wrong, and it could be awkward.)
So I tried to explain what it means to call Jesus the Good Shepherd. This was tricky because: metaphors are not designed for not-quite-three-year-old brains.
“Jesus is like a shepherd because he takes care of people like a shepherd takes care of sheep. If one sheep is lost, the shepherd goes and finds him. If a person is lost, Jesus goes and finds him. Jesus always finds us and helps us,” I said.
“Yeah,” Zoe agreed. “Jesus wants to get us.”
Now, Jesus does want to get us, but in an “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” kind of way. A “come to me all you who are weary” kind of way. Not in a predatory way. Not in a creepy monster movie kind of way:
“He’s gonna get us! Jesus wants to get us!”
“Well, yes,” I said. “But in a good way! Jesus loves us.” (Pro Tip: In a pinch, play the “Jesus loves us” card.)
When Zoe suggested that I was “too big” to be loved by Jesus (thanks a lot, Zoe), I assured her that Jesus loves everyone. All the big people, all the little people, all the babies and kids and mamas and daddies and grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles, all the people in the whole world.
She thought about this for a minute and said. “And all the Zoes?”
Yes, little one. All the Zoes.
No matter how loud they are in church.