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Wednesday Wondering - May 8, 2024

Scripture

Psalm 23

1    The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

2    He makes me lie down in green pastures;

    he leads me beside still waters;

3    he restores my soul.

    He leads me in right paths

    for his name’s sake.

4    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.

5    You prepare a table before me

    in the presence of my enemies;

    you anoint my head with oil;

    my cup overflows.

6    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.


Reflection

I was having a conversation with a very dear friend of mine, as it was her birthday, and very early that same morning her mother had passed. Now the passing of her mother was not unexpected, but on that day it was a surprise. I have been wondering about who we are and how we experience grief. We grieve for many reasons, for the loss of a loved one, like my friend. We grieve the loss of relationships and friendships that might have ended. We grieve the loss of our dreams and hopes as life sometimes, oftentimes, doesn’t go as planned. In the midst of all of these experiences we grieve. I read somewhere that oftentimes grief is just love that can no longer be shared and in so many ways I agree with that idea. Many of us have experienced grief in our lives and I wonder how we continue to move forward, is it simply a matter of faith, and if so, why?


Many of us may be very familiar with the above Psalm but we generally think of it in terms of a memorial service. Yet this Psalm speaks deeply to us not just about grief in the face of loss, but also it speaks to us today in the face of other types of grief and challenges that we must face today. In many ways, it speaks to our hope that in the midst of all that is happening. This reading gives us the reassurance that  we are not alone. It speaks to the love and care that God has for us always. I wanted to share with you a reflection that was written by a colleague on this Psalm. The reflection speaks to the confusion and challenge that we face in our lives today, including all of the different ways in which we grieve, and how difficult it can be to remember that we are not alone. The following reflection was written by Kirsten Marie;

    

The Lord is my shepherd;

     I shall not be in want?

     But I want…

     housing, employment, income, family, love, answers, patience, acceptance, hope, belonging...

     I have more than many…

     I shall not be in want.

     He makes me lie down…

     I'm fine as I am

     I must keep busy

     There's so much to get done

     He makes me lie down

     He can't catch me

     He makes me lie down…

     my head is dizzy

     He makes me lie down in green pastures

     and leads me beside still waters.

     He revives my soul

     Even if...

     My soul is spinning?

     I've fallen away?

     I've turned away?

     Even if I'm distanced from my shepherd?

     He revives my soul and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.

     Right paths...

     like safe paths? Comfortable paths?

     Though I walk through the valley

     Of the shadow of

     Loneliness and isolation,

     Violence and racism

     Goals on hold and lost dreams

     illness and countless lives lost

     Of lost hope…

     Even though I walk through the valley

     Of death,

     I shall fear no evil;

     For you are with me;

     Your rod and your staff, they comfort me?

     My routine and my books

     Meetings and busyness

     Comfy clothes and hot tea

     They comfort me…

     Your rod and your staff??

     Maybe?

     You spread a table before me in the presence of my fears and doubts

     My skeptical ways

     My grief...

     my enemies?

     you have anointed my head with...

     Purell?

     Oil,

     and my cup...

     My cup is running over.

     If only I can find it…

     Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

     Follow even me???

     all the days of my life?

     maybe...

     Hopefully…

     and I will dwell

     In MY house forever?

     In the house of the Lord forever…

     Goodness and mercy?

     Even though?

     Even now?

     Even when?

     Even if?

     Here it is... the spinning...

     He makes me lie down...

     And stills my heart.


In the midst of all of the challenges that our lives bring. God can still our racing hearts. God can calm our fears. God is with us. We are never alone. I think that this week, I have been needing to consider this myself. I have wondered where, in the midst of all of the challenges we have faced, I might find some peace, yet, as I read it I come to see that sometimes it is has always been with us. Sometimes for us to find peace it is for us to calm our minds and remember that we are not alone, that God walks through those valley times with us.


Prayer

God of infinite presence, help us to feel your presence with us at every twist and turn of life. Help us to find that calm centre in the midst of this crazy world, so that we might find you. Give us the courage to face today, tomorrow, and every day with the understanding that you will be with us. Let us also understand that you call us to be your presence in the world for others and let us live into this as we are a living, loving, presence of God for others. We ask this in the name of God Incarnate, God with us, your son Jesus. Amen.

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