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 paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest 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 forever. - Psalm 23:1-6
I have been a life-long Presbyterian and have special memories of the church in Danville that I attended from birth to leaving home as an adult. When I received the assignment of Psalm 23 as the text for my devotion, I felt the immediate serenity and calmness that this Psalm has always given me. David’s words paint such a profound picture of our Lord’s love and care for us. Instead of relying on many years of comfort and familiarity with this Psalm, I did as Leigh suggested and read and re-read the scripture. I reflected on it and I began to recognize that while this provides much comfort and reassurance for me; it comes with deep responsibility for us as Christians.
We cannot stop at merely receiving comfort, we are called to offer that comfort to others. Not only are we expected to follow our Lord, we are expected to encourage others in their journey as well; we must be willing to lead. We must open our eyes to those around us, be aware of other’s pain and suffering and their needs to have our Lord in their lives. When we open our eyes and truly see others, feel their suffering, and accept some responsibility on our part to support and nurture our neighbors, our friends, the stranger on the street, those that we sometimes pass without seeing; then we will begin to understand that our Lord is with us and is expecting us to be there for others.
This Psalm reassures us that our Lord walks with us and will be with us to walk in green pastures, restore our soul, and lead us though the valley of the shadow of death; others need this same blessed assurance and it starts with us.
There are many of you in this congregation that I barely know on a close personal level. But when I see you at church, you bring joy to my heart because you have meant something to me. It may have been sitting together in Bible study or Presbyterian Women or the warm greeting you gave me during Passing the Peace, but seeing you even in passing brings me joy. That is what we do for one another when we gather together as the body of Christ. It is not just specific acts between two people, it is also the process of worshiping together and hearing God’s word in his sanctuary together that makes us connect with one another as God’s sheep following the Good Shepherd. We just have to open our eyes and our hearts and follow and also be willing to lead.