Fourth Sunday of Easter
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
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 your staff—
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
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.
Today is often referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday and the psalm set is always Psalm 23. I am sure we all have many memories of this Psalm – from the theme tune of the Vicar of Dibley, to poignant family funerals. The familiar words provide comfort for those of strong faith and those whose faith is very tentative. Words that remind us, no matter how dark life’s journey may seem our Lord is always with us.
Some of the very strong images in the psalm are that of home – preparing a table, an overflowing cup, dwelling in the house of the Lord. Images of home that bring comfort and familiarity. At the moment, our homes are practically our whole world and one of the things we are learning is that in some ways that is enough. We have shelter, food and warmth. We have books, craft and entertainment. We have phones and possibly computers or tablets which let us keep in touch with others. Our lives are surprisingly full of abundant life even when confined to our homes.
We, however, also long for green pastures and still waters. The chance to find somewhere to refresh our weary souls. This psalm reminds us that the Lord is our Shepherd who provides that refreshment. The location is not important. Instead, it is the call of the Good Shepherd, we hear deep within us, that leads us to find refreshment for our souls and the overflowing abundance of life.
Loving Lord, please help us to listen when you call, to feel the much-needed refreshment for our souls and to appreciate the abundant life that you have given us.
With love and prayers,