Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I am the Good Lollipop Lady

Cross Purposes 113 By Rene - I am the Good Lollipop Lady

“I am the Good Lollipop Lady”
(John 10:11)

Wakehurst Primary School is just around the corner from where I live. The school is assisted by a “lollipop” lady who dutifully walks into the middle of the school crossing to stop the traffic with her lollipop “STOP” sign whenever a child needs to cross the street, and then caringly sees the child safely across to the other side before allowing the traffic to proceed. In the five years I have lived in Belrose it has always been the same lady. She is there every morning and every afternoon of the school term – come rain, hail or scorching heat.

It seems a strange thing to say, but I’ve come to enjoy being part of this little ritual at the school crossing when I happen to be driving along the street at the beginning or end of the school day. It’s because in the action of the lollipop lady, and her interaction with the children and their parents, I see an unfolding of the story of the Good Shepherd, and in the face of the lollipop lady I see the face of Jesus.

The connection with the Good Shepherd story (John 10:1-30) occurred to me one Wednesday morning last year. I was waiting at the school crossing on the way to the Scripture classes I teach at two other primary schools a few suburbs away. The lesson for the morning was Jesus the Good Shepherd.

As I watched her that morning and recalled all the other times I had witnessed the same little ritual, I thought about the care this woman shows in ushering the kids safely across the road. It wouldn’t surprise me if she knows by name most, if not all the kids who use the crossing, and that likewise they know her name, or have an endearing name for her. She goes onto the crossing ahead of them, stepping into the oncoming traffic alone, bringing it to a halt and rendering the crossing safe before allowing the children to step onto the road. Should there ever be an incident where a driver fails to respond to her stop sign (and we pray there never will be), she alone would be the one in danger of injury or even death – her children at this point still safely on the footpath. Only when it is safe does she call them across, while she stands guard in the middle of the road.

In reference to the good shepherd, Jesus says: “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (v.3). Then he says: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep” (v.11); and then goes on to say, “I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (v.14). A little further Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (v.27).

From my observations of this lady going about her daily task, it would not surprise me if the children were not the only ones who listen to her voice. Often I will see her engaged in conversation with the young mums who have taken their kids to school. It’s a lovely interaction to observe. One gets the impression that these young mums see the lollipop lady as a motherly figure – someone in whom they can confide, someone in whom they can share their joys and concerns, someone in whom they can put their trust and confidence.

The story of the Good Shepherd concludes with the wonderful reassurance that we can confide in Him, and that we can share all our joys and woes with Him, and above all that we can have complete confidence in His promise to us, and can entrust everything to His care. He is the good shepherd, and he speaks thus of us, his sheep: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (vv.28-30).

As we reflect on the ‘Good Shepherd’ readings, it is timely for us to remember and understand that, “He and the Father are one,” for as Matthew records in his Gospel, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel – which means ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23).

He is with us, indeed, as our Good Shepherd, as our Redeemer, as our Saviour and, yes, as our Good Lollipop Lady!

René van den Tol


Anonymous Tom Allen said...

For so many of us, we witness these wonderful things like the good lollipop lady - so politically incorrect, BTW - and just take them for granted. Thanks Rene.

This story is a great example of recognising one of the ways that we are blessed, and I especially liked your reference to recognising Jesus in the face of your "lollipop person."

Thanks be to God

1:07 PM  

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