Flying Sheep and Bad Shepherds

True story time.

When I was in college, I was part of the pre-seminary “club” called AEX (which stood for adelphoi en christo, or Greek for “Brothers in Christ”). We would meet for weekly Bible studies and do the occasional service projects. And occasionally, we would get asked to lead a chapel service.

My freshman year, I volunteered to help lead the chapel service. I wound up writing a skit for us to perform and it was fairly well received. I think that happened a second time and it followed the same pattern: I wrote a skit and it went well.

Then it happened a third time and I was “volunteered” to write a skit. I was hoping that I’d get a good sized group to help. Instead, I wound up with only my friend Jamison.

Now Jamison is a cool guy. He liked comic books. He was in a band while in college. He and I had a very similar sense of humor. And that’s what ultimately got us in trouble.

See, we had been assigned Ezekiel 34 for our service, where God condemns the former “shepherds” of Israel and promises that He will be His people’s Good Shepherd from then on. This is what our script would have to be based on. And we were stumped. We wracked our brains for close to a half hour.

Then my mind made a ridiculous connection. See, I had recently found a text file filled with Monty Python skits. And one of them was all about a shepherd who allows his sheep to attempt flight. For those of you who are curious, it’s this one (starting at the beginning and going to approximately 2:30):

I told Jamison about the skit and said, “We couldn’t possibly do a Monty Python skit in chapel, could we?”

Jamison shot down the idea. No way. Not going to happen. We’d just have to come up with something else.

And so we tried. But we were still stumped. And I kept laughing at the thought of those sheep plummeting out of the sky. We sat there for close to an hour, trying to come up with something—anything—other than flying sheep. Eventually, Jamison sighed and told me to go get the script. After reading it over, we decided we would do it.

We would perform a Monty Python skit in chapel.

On the day of chapel, Jamison and I got up in front of a few dozen of our fellow students and, using some really bad British accents, proceeded to act out the skit. It was pathetic.

But our accents weren’t the craziest part of our performance. See, we had recruited our friend Rob to hide up in the chapel balcony. At one point in the skit, Rob bleated like a sheep and chucked a stuffed toy out of the balcony. It spun, end over end, and crashed into the floor in the middle of the chapel. Everyone stared at it for a moment, then looked at Jamison and myself, with looks that could only be interpreted as: “You are dead men.”

But we soldiered on. After our little performance, Jamison delivered some thoughts on the difference between bad shepherds (like the guy in the skit who allowed his sheep to try to fly) and the Good Shepherd. We sang a hymn, dismissed the crowd, and then our pre-seminary coordinator cornered us and informed us that we would never be allowed to lead chapel again.

Well, I did lead chapel again. Several times, as a matter of fact. And many years later, when I told this story in the chapel where it all took place, our former adviser was shocked when I said he had barred us from leading worship.

Even now, about twenty years after it all took place, I still have a soft spot for this skit and for the message we were trying to convey:

There are a lot of bad shepherds out there. They claim to have our best interests at heart and claim that they will help us live life to the full, achieve our dreams, or whatever. But in reality, they’re just allowing us to climb trees and plummet.

There’s only one Shepherd who leads us along safe paths to good pastures. Listen to His voice and follow where He leads.

And watch out for falling sheep.

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