The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..….Yesterday the scripture for morning worship was the 23rd Psalm. They are familiar words….words that have history for so many. These words filled with images which are in some ways unfamiliar to our modern, urban experience…sheep, rod, staff, shepherd…..have the ability to create a nest in which we can rest. At least that is what I observed yesterday.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.
Sunday mornings often begin with an almost frenetic energy. People rush in late thinking they had more time in the morning than they did. They greet friends they haven’t seen all week or even longer. There is a jockeying for seats. We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries. We can be well into the hour long service before the energy in the room fades to calm. Yesterday was no different.
He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff-they comfort me.
But as we began to read these words many had memorized in Sunday School the energy in the room began to shift. Heads began to nod. Ah, yes. I know this. These are my words. This is my story, my history. These are my people.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.
We have so few words these days that unite us. There are so many texts written to polarize, to divide, to agitate. But yesterday these ancient words written by someone unknown, using images unfamiliar, did just that. The individual lives that rushed into the room, calmed, rested, were held in the lap of the Divine, a whole people of God.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.