May 3, 2020
Psalm 23 is one of the most beloved passages in the entire Bible. These words of God’s care have comforted Jewish and Christian people of faith for generation upon generation.
God is at the center of Psalm 23. Through these six verses God shares three actions of care: provision, protection, and proclamation.
The words of the first verse highlight these three actions:
The Lord (proclamation) is my shepherd (protection); I shall not want (provision).
A shepherd brings the flock to green pastures to eat and still waters that are safe to drink.
God provides us with what we need for our physical needs.
God also gives provision for our emotional and spiritual needs. Our souls are restored. We are lead to the right path.
There are times that our lives become a walk through a dark valley. We do not need to fear any evil.
For God is with us. We are comforted by God’s protection, represented in the psalm as God’s rod and staff.
God proclaims and is proclaimed:
Through God’s provision and protection God is proclaimed. Even in the face of our enemy’s presence God is proclaimed in the preparation of a table, our heads are anointed with oil, our cup is overflowing.
There are times in our lives that are just bigger than we are. We discover that we are up against powerful forces and feel very powerless. Our old ways are ripped apart and we struggle with the new normal. We long for a return to the old normal yet know our hearts the normal once lived is now in the past. There is no going back, except in memory. We need to embrace the reality of the new normal to forge ahead.
Psalm 23 reminds us that God is with us in these moments of transition. God comforts us and opens the way for us to adjust to the new normal.
There is nothing in all of creation that can separate us from the love of God through Jesus Christ (Romans 8).
God’s love will see us through the crises we are presently facing. One key way that God’s love is made concrete in our lives is through our kindness and our love for one another.
We make sure that everyone is taken care of. We make sure our local food pantry has the food needed to meet the increased demand, and we make sure that our government adequately funds food stamps and school lunches. We insist that every person has access to health care without going into debt.
We make sure that everyone is safe. We practice physical distancing, and wear a mask when we do go out into public.
We join together to lift up our spiritual needs. Through groups like our daily prayer circle souls are restored. We are guided to follow the right path, and this guidance is given one day at a time.
In the wilderness the people wanted to store up the manna God provided, but this quickly rotted. They had to trust God, one day at a time.
We would like to know when it be safe to be in public again, to hug one another again, to sit together at a café or at coffee hour again, to worship together in person again.
What God is providing us is a great pause in which to give our trust to God one day at a time. And that God will guide us in the right path to follow this day, today.
Living through this present moment is surely like walking the darkest valley. We can become overwhelmed by fear.
In this present moment we open our hearts to God’s presence with us. God is with us. God is comforting us.
God is working through us to be there for each other. We can be present on the phone, through the internet, even by writing an old fashioned letter with an envelope and stamp. (If you have only written emails, try writing and mailing someone a letter this week.) We can be spiritually present, holding each other in prayer.
God is proclaimed through our acts of kindness and love for one another. As we act with kindness and love God prepares a table for us even while our enemies are present. As we act with kindness and love God anoints our heads with oil and overflows our cups.
We are so aware of everything we have lost in the past two months. Yet also an abundance has been given. We have an opportunity to act with kindness and love toward our families, our friends, our neighbors, our faith communities, in ways that might never have happened otherwise.
I’m not suggesting that any of the crises we face are blessings or good things. Only that God is with us through this. And that each day we have a choice to make. To act with kindness and with love, or to close off kindness and love in our lives.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.