Church of England Diocese of Guildford Dunsfold


22 Sep 2021, 11:30 p.m.

So what’s the difference between a good shepherd and a bad shepherd?

It’s not a trick question or the opening line of a bad joke. Throughout the Bible a good shepherd is said to ‘gather’ the sheep and a bad shepherd to ‘scatter’ them.

It’s an insight I reflect on every time I pick up my pastoral staff and set off on my travels - as I’m blessedly able to do once more - to institute, confirm, preside or preach. It reminds me of the importance of drawing people together in the purposes of God, with the Greek word ecclesia (normally translated ‘church’) having a sense of gathering at its core.

And while churches across the diocese have proved extraordinarily inventive in finding new ways to gather in a world of lockdowns and social distancing - demonstrating just how many good shepherds there are in our parishes, both lay and ordained - how good to have the Archbishop’s visit to enable us to come together in person once more, the faithful, the fringe and the far-off together. It’s an ambitious endeavour, but, in the words of the mighty Moses, may ‘the Lord open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on our land in season and to bless all the work of our hands’.

Bishop Andrew