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Sheep Crossing

Lectionary Tales For The Pulpit
Series III, Cycle C
Chuck laughed as he told the story. He had been on a trip to the Netherlands on business. When one of the meetings was cancelled, he decided to take advantage of the extra day and go sight-seeing. He hired a guide: Chuck wanted to see the countryside of this small country.

Camera in hand, Chuck and his guide set out on their adventure. They visited an outdoor museum depicting a miniature town; they quickly walked through an art museum; they saw many shops; they walked alongside a canal for a bit. But what impressed Chuck the most was seeing the vast fields of tulips and other flowers in full bloom. It was early May and the day was bright and beautiful. The yellows matched the sun; the pinks were as sweet as a little girl's dress. The blues were as soft as the sky. Flowers of every color were in splendid array. Chuck was awestruck. He clicked away with his camera. There was so much to see here!

Chuck and his guide, Hans, continued on their way. They were driving along a road, on their way to a dairy farm, when suddenly a bell sounded and a light started to blink at the side of the road. Hans stopped, turned off the engine, and told Chuck to relax. Chuck didn't see any train tracks. He wondered what was coming. The guide told him to roll down his window, get his camera ready and listen very carefully. Chuck's curiosity was piqued.

A kind of bleating noise came closer and suddenly, out of the ditch at the side of the road, came a group of sheep. There were about fifty. Two dogs were at the side and a man came up from behind. He had a flute in his hand. The sheep were lined up and they crossed the road in front of Hans' car. Chuck couldn't believe it: he had never seen anything like it.

Hans patiently explained that in a way the sheep ruled the road in the Dutch countryside. Sheep are very valuable and necessary in that part of Holland, and they are given courtesy on the road. The shepherd will hit the signal, which starts the horn and blinking light. Dogs are well-trained to keep the sheep in line: they follow the instructions of the shepherd carefully and the sheep follow.

Indeed, they followed. The sheep were on their way to the next pasture to graze. They continued walking in a straight line. And the flute? The guide said it is very common for the shepherd to sing or play to the sheep because it relaxes them. The sheep know his voice: they listen and they follow him.

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