“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’” (Matthew 9:35-38) I’ll be celebrating my 30th ordination anniversary next year. Lots has changed over the course of those years. One thing that has especially changed for me is how I read the Bible. Starting out, I’d have read this week’s Gospel as primarily a call to “Get busy!!” It is that, but now I tend to look first for what Christ is doing. So things like this now stand out for me: “Jesus went about ALL the cities…curing EVERY disease…” What I’ve come to realize is that often in the church, we run about “harassed and helpless” as if we too have no shepherd. We do that (it seems to me) when we forget that ever and always our ministry is only joining the Lord in his. You and I don’t start anything and so it becomes essential that we first acknowledge that Jesus has already been to ALL the cities and he has already addressed EVERY thing that harms us. And now he asks us to pray for God to continue that work. No doubt each of us will be an answer to that prayer; each of us will be sent to particular places to do particular things. But in all of those places and doing all of those things we will only be joining Jesus in his good work. And we will realize perhaps for the first (or hundredth!) time that we too have a Shepherd and now we too may reach out to the harassed and helpless, not in our own strength, but in the power of the Holy Spirit who binds us to our risen Shepherd and Lord.