I cannot take credit for this sermon, but I have embellished it based on years of teaching exegesis and expository preaching. I am sure I heard a sermion very like this once, but I may have been sleeping at the time. Enjoy.
Little Bo Peep Sermon
I would like to read to you from the 14th chapter of the book of Mother Goose, where we find these words recorded. “Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep, and she doesn’t know where to find them, but leave them alone and they’ll come home wagging their tails behind them.” Thus endeth the reading of the text.
Now I would like to go through this passage with you and explain to you as best I can the pearls of wisdom contained therein.
The first line tells us that “Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep.” Immediately we learn that the name of the main character in our narrative is Bo Peep; to be more precise, Little Bo Peep. Now from this we can ascertain that Little Bo Peep was a child or possibly a small adult. But since there aren’t too many small adults around named Bo Peep, we will for today’s message assume that Little Bo Peep was indeed a child; although there aren’t very many children named Bo Peep either. What kind of a stupid name is Bo Peep anyway? Can you imagine anybody naming a poor, defenseless, little child Bo Peep? Why was she called Bo Peep? But I’m sure you realize that in the genre “poetry” certain words must rhyme. Consequently, in this case, the name of the little girl must rhyme with the word sheep. Now the writer could have chosen such words as beep, creep, leap, veep, or weep; but he/or she
chose Peep. Actually that was not a bad choice, I would say, given the alternatives.
We are told that she lost her sheep. Now evidently, Little Bo Peep was given the task of guarding the family flock: a rather serious responsibility for a small child. But the sheep got away; she lost her sheep. Whether she dozed off, or wandered off into the woods leaving the sheep to fend for themselves, or lost track of time reading Beatrix Potter or Harry Potter, this we do not know. We know only that she was negligent in her task, the one task that she was assigned, and that the sheep got away. She lost her sheep.
We hear next that, quote, “she doesn’t know where to find them,” unquote. Of course she doesn’t know where to find them: they’re lost! We’ve already been told that the sheep are missing. If she knew where to find them, they wouldn’t be lost anymore, would they? Of course they wouldn’t. But it’s in the Book, “and she doesn’t know where to find them.” Apparently she doesn’t even have a clue.
And as if this still isn’t enough, the writer has the audacity to say, “leave them alone.” Or more precisely, “but leave them alone.;” Pray tell, what else can the poor girl do but leave them alone? They’re lost, aren’t they? How many times do we need to explain this? How many times? She lost her sheep, and she doesn’t know where to find them. It seems to me she has no other choice in the matter. She has to leave those dumb sheep alone, doesn’t she? Of course she does. But it’s in the Book. Leave them alone.
“Leave them alone and they’ll come home,” it says. Now who am I to say what sheep will do when they are lost? Dogs usually come home; even cats have been known to come home when they are lost. But sheep? They may or may not come home. Just between you and me, at this point, I couldn’t care less one way or the other. I am quite ready to leave those sheep and this whole narrative alone.
He says that they will come “wagging their tails.” Have you ever seen sheep wag anything but their tails? What else can a sheep wag but its tail? As a matter of fact, I will go on record here as saying that if a sheep is wagging anything, it is his or her tail that he or she is wagging. Most assuredly.
And the clincher, my dear friends, are the final two words of this little poem, this poignant narrative of one Bo-Peep, the small. (You don’t suppose there was actually a large Bo-Peep, do you?. This is mere speculation. It is not in the text.) But we digress. Where were we? Ah yes, “wagging their tails.” Are you ready for this? Wagging their tails….behind them! Behind them indeed! Have you ever seen sheep wag their tails in front of them? I assure you, dear students of the word, it is an absolute physical impossibility.
Now I would like to go through this pathetic little poem one more time leaving out all the stupid phrases which the original poet-ignoramus has written here; and we find that all he or she is trying to tell us is simply that:
“Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep,
but they’ll come home wagging.”
Here endeth the lesson. Amen.