“Blessed are the Meek”

“Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.”

— Jesus, in the book of Matthew

Just over a month ago I decided to try my hand at a blanket series, creating several large blankets around a theme. At that time, two friends and I had started reading and discussing the book of Matthew together. When we got to the Beatitudes in chapter 5, I knew I’d found my subject matter.

The word “beatitudes” comes from the Latin beātitūdō which means “happiness” or “blessing.” I remember thinking: what better attribute to imbue a blanket with.

May I set the scene for Matthew 5? Jesus is about 30 years old, he has recently left the home where he grew up and has begun to travel and teach in public places throughout the region of Galilee in Roman-occupied Israel. He has asked 12 men to accompany him and learn from him, like apprentices, which they do. Also, quite notably, Jesus has begun healing the people he meets of all sorts of diseases and ailments. Interest and crowds are growing. It is in this setting that he begins to teach, just as a rabbi would, and with an authority and credibility that surprise people, especially as he is a carpenter by trade, and from a small town.

It was on a hillside one day, surrounded by such a crowd, that he said (among many other things) “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

What? Meek sounds so unflattering! I don’t know anyone who longs to be known as the meek one!

But over at Dictionary.com I learn this (with italicized notes in brackets added by me):

          1. humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others. [Worthy traits!]
          2. overly submissive or compliant; spiritless; tame. [The “meek” we don’t think highly of.]
          3. Obsolete: gentle; kind. [Check out these older meanings! They’re great!]

And Merriam-Webster offers these synonyms: demure, down-to-earth, lowly, humble, modest, unassuming, unpretentious.

 Sheep of course aren’t ideal representatives for meekness, but they’ve got some fitting characteristics. They’re docile. They’re unable to protect themselves. They depend on their shepherd. Yet when they feel assured that the shepherd is watching over them and tending to their surroundings, they go about their day at peace.

However, they’re also not so smart. (Sorry, sheep!) But perhaps that keeps them humble?

If Jesus insinuated that meekness is a quality worth having, then I propose that it’s worth reconsidering how we think about it in our modern-day world, maybe in these terms:

healthy deference
and even…trust.

Then there’s the last part of that verse—whoa!

What is the blessing that the meek will receive? They will inherit the earth. What can that even mean?? I don’t know, but it sounds amazing. Is it like a fairy-tale king entrusting to his beloved daughter a sound, cared-for kingdom, with peaceful people tending beautiful, full fields and lands? Even that picture is poor next to the possibilities contained in the blessing of this beatitude.

But someday perhaps we’ll know :)

“Blessed are the Meek” (62″ x 72″)

This blanket has already gone to a good home.

A Little Lamb for Caroline

Is it the heat? the lack of routine? the pleasures of summer? I haven’t posted much, but I have been busy!

In July, a custom-made little lamb blanket went to baby Caroline in New York. It was a gift from her great-aunt, who became familiar with The Green Sheep through her neighbor, a friend of mine.

Hopefully baby Caroline is cuddling up on cool nights, lounging in the park,

and enjoying this soft little blanket, made just for her.

A Little Lamb for Caroline (~ 35″ by 37″)

This is a custom-ordered blanket.

A happy, blessed Christmas to you all!

It’s been a delightful year for The Green Sheep, thanks to all of you!  I so appreciate your support as you read the blog and pass the link on to others.  Thank you!

And now I simply want to wish you all a Christmas full of WONDER, of HOPE, and of JOY— as we celebrate the day of Jesus’ birth on Earth.  Merry, merry Christmas!

[Photo credit: Nigel Roddis/Reuters — Snow-covered sheep in Helperby, England]


Twin Lambs

Well, they’re not really lamb twins — they’re baby girl twins, and they are due to join Mom, Dad, and a big brother and sister in November.

But recently, Big Brother told his mom that these babies are Jesus’ little lambs.  I think that’s how the theme started for the nursery.

I was able to have two blankets ready for Susan’s (the expectant mom) baby shower.  In fact, several friends brought lamb-themed things.  That room will be a welcome place for these sweet babies, and a constant reminder of God’s loving care.

I wrote this Bible verse in the card I took to the shower  —

“He tends his flock like a shepherd:

He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;

he gently leads those that have young.”  (Isaiah 40.11)

The last line of that passage has some comforting words for PARENTS  —  “He gently leads those that have young.”  Another friend at the shower commented, “It’d be nice if sometimes He would lead us more loudly and with clearer direction!”  Parenting is a challenge :).

[On a side note: Susan has been a huge encourager to me with The Green Sheep.  In fact, it was her request when she ordered a baby blanket for a friend last year that started me adding appliqués to blankets….

….She originally requested a turquoise-and-brown theme to match her friend’s nursery.  After I finished that, Susan asked, “Can you add a picture to it?”  That blanket became “A Happy Little Tune.”]

We all love you and wish you and your growing family well, Susan!

“Jesus’ Little Lambs”  (each is 35″ x 37″)

These blankets have already gone to a good home.

Easter and the Good Shepherd

Happy Easter to each of you!  In our family, we greet each other Easter morning with: “He is risen!  He is risen indeed!”  I wish I could share my fresh-baked hot cross buns with you for breakfast. (Except — oops — they are bare, as I forgot to slice the crosses on the top of this batch.)

Easter and Good Friday and The Green Sheep have all made me think about the references to sheep in the Bible.  There are many.  For the past 8 months, I’ve been studying the book of Isaiah with a great group of women — a tremendous study.  There’s lots about sheep there, a bit of which I shared in my Good Friday post.

(Photo by mehmetgoren)

Last year we studied the book of John, another wildly wonderful book.  I remembered some talk about shepherds there, so I went back to find it.  In chapter 10, Jesus used some very familiar “people in the neighborhood” (a la Sesame Street, Hebrew style) to teach something about himself.  He said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10.11).

(Photo by Jim Richardson)

This reminds me of the 23rd psalm, where David describes the day-to-day shepherding care he received from the Lord.  (And I think it’s cool that David wrote from what he knew, as he was a shepherd before becoming king.)  “The Lord is my shepherd,” he wrote, “I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.  He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake”  (Psalm 23.1-3).

So how does this tie to Easter?  Well, Jesus did an extraordinary thing in laying down his life to conquer sin (Good Friday) and then in rising to conquer death (Easter).   Today he LIVES as a guiding, care-taking, restoring shepherd…to those lost sheep like me who call on him.

The sheep at the stable

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord’” (Luke 2.8-11).

This week, with our Christmas decorations still up, I’ve found myself thinking about the sheep in our nativity set.  I’ve thought how very “like God” it was of God to include disrespected shepherds and their not-particularly-smart sheep in His advent here on this planet.  The shepherds were among the first to learn that something wondrous was happening in a Bethlehem stable, and they came (with their sheep traipsing along) to see a newborn whose birth had been foretold in ancient scriptures:  “For to us a child is born.…and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9.6).

Sheep are mentioned quite a lot in the Bible.  Most memorably, people are compared to sheep—lost if without their shepherd, sometimes wandering and astray.  When he grew up, Jesus called Himself the good shepherd.  When I see that little porcelain lamb peering over the manger’s edge at baby Jesus,  this is what I think:  Like that lamb, I would be lost without my shepherd,  Jesus.  What a perfect object lesson God provided when He invited the sheep to the stable.