Paul seems to have a sense that his ministry is winding down, that the end is near. He is heading to Jerusalem and although he isn't certain what's about to happen, the Spirit of God has told him that afflictions and prison await. In our reading today, Paul says goodbye to the church in Ephesus with a real sense that they will never see his face again. We hear how Paul commends the church to God, encourage the church to beware that some may come after him to try to deceive the church and, perhaps most importantly, reminds them that they are shepherds of the church. As the passage closes Paul falls on his knees and pray for the people. Tears flow, the people and Paul embrace, and Paul is sent on his way.
I was quite struck in verse 28 by Paul's reminder to the church at Ephesus that Spirit has made them shepherds of the church of God. Being a person who wears a white piece of plastic around my neck (a clergy collar) I feel very much a shepherd of the church. But I wonder how I might as a leader in the church better encourage lay folks in my midst to live more fully into being a shepherd. For the lay folks out there, how do you see yourself as a shepherd of the church of God and how might your clergy help you to be a better shepherd?