In last Sunday’s gospel lesson, Jesus asks Simon Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Each time, Simon Peter says, “Yes, I love you.” Then Jesus commands him to “feed my sheep” and “tend my sheep.” This lesson is often used at the ordination of a pastor to drive home the charge to tend or care for the flock – the congregation, the people of God.
The term “pastor” is derived from Middle English pastour, which is linked to the Latin word pastor, both of which mean “herdsman.” Each of these terms is rooted in the word pascere, which means “to feed.” The calling of a pastor is to tend the flock and to feed the followers of Jesus through Word and sacrament. This does not mean that the pastor is above anyone – in fact, pastors are as much “sheep” as anyone else. Another fact, while pastors may have an official call to tend the flock, every sheep is involved in caring for all the others in the flock.
Why do I share this esoteric bit of etymology? Because we are beginning an emphasis to “tend the flock” more fully, more efficiently. Some of the tending a pastor does is teaching, preaching, and leading worship. Yet, as the parable about the lost sheep in Luke 15 implies, some of the tending of the flock is in the counting, the keeping track, and in knowing who might be lost or astray.
Over the next few weeks, you will be receiving several communications about Realm – the database we use to keep track of the flock known as Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. To care for the sick, reach out to the grieving, connect one member with another; to be a community that is connected to one another, we need a way to know who we are.
We are in the process of developing an on-line directory, complete with photos and current contact information so that we can be the people of God in this place. We are working to make it possible to “tend the flock.” By making sure you have a Realm account with up-to-date information, you will be part of the directory and we will be able to build community. Unlike old directories, this approach means that the information we have will be current and accurate continually.
We are a culture connected by email, text message, internet, and websites. The church must keep pace with the changes in technology if we are to tend the flock appropriately and effectively. In the next few weeks, you will receive detailed instructions on setting up your account and using it to the fullest. You can find the information as it is released in the emails you receive or on the website at https://www.holytrinityankeny.org/realm.html
We are all called to look out for one another and to “tend the sheep.” As the one who officially bears that duty and call, I’m asking you to please help us - help me! - by using the tools we have to express more deeply the call we have to be Christ’s beloved community.
Tim Olson – Lead Pastor