Thursday, March 19, 2020

Psalm for Fourth Sunday in Lent 22 March 2020

Psalm 23 
 The Lord is my shepherd; *
I shall not be in want.
 He makes me lie down in green pastures *
and leads me beside still waters.
 He revives my soul *
and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.
 Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil; *
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
 You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; 
you have anointed my head with oil,
and my cup is running over.
 Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, 
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Reflection        No doubt the most beloved of the 150 psalms is the 23rd. Children and adults recall to heart the words, The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. And even though many folks choose the twenty third psalm for their memorial and celebration of life service, I believe it is a beautiful description of how we are to live our lives every day.

A shepherd cares for the safety and welfare of the sheep, even laying his life down for the good of them. When used as a metaphor for God, we understand God as a shepherd that is in charge of our lives and is committed to our safety, nourishment and thriving.

As our psalmist sings, with God as my shepherd, I shall not want. Wow. What a declaration of faith. With God I can lack nothing, not even in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak when it is nearly impossible to buy tuna fish or frozen dinners, hand sanitizer or toilet paper. Being with God I need nothing else.

The Lord is my shepherd…. I shall lack in nothing. No matter what is happening around me I shall lack nothing because with God I am calm,  God leads me to still waters and green pastures. I thrive. With God my soul is revived and even when I stumble through difficult times and feel afraid, being wrapped in God’s protection I am comforted.

When my mind races with grave imaginings that evil and enemies surround me, that dreadful things are happening everywhere I turn and the news is nothing but distressing, God blesses me with the holy oil of mercy and I am stunned by God’s extravagant love. 

Yes, God’s goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life because God is faithful. But once again we are reminded that grace is not cheap. God’s blessing demands our faithful response. Every minute of every hour we must choose to “live in the house of the Lord for ever,” which is to say we must choose to live in faith, not fear.  God’s proverbial house is one of faith, hope and love. Not fear. The sure and certain way to live in God’s house of faith, hope and love is to claim with every ounce of our being, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” “ I choose to live in the house of faith, hope and love. "

God’s goodness and mercy is with us as we tread the uncharted waters of the coronavirus and dramatic social and economic change. The Lord is our shepherd. We shall not be afraid because we choose to live in the house of faith, hope and love.

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