A Call to Worship
Easter 4B 2015
Psalm 23

Gracious God, our Shepherd King, we gather in your secure presence to worship you.
Because we trust in you, we know that absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love.

Nurturing God, our Healing Shepherd, we gather to be healed of our pain and wounds.
Because we trust in you, we accept that your quiet healing brings us serenity and peace.

Welcoming God, our Host Shepherd, we gather to receive your abundant blessings, and
to acknowledge the fidelity of God’s generous love, care and blessings on all who trust God.
Because we trust in you, we believe that even though there are many threatening forces that surround us; “...your goodness and unfailing love...” gives us hope and
confidence— as we worship and praise the Lord, our Good Shepherd, through all the days of our life. Amen.

Psalm 23
A psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honour to his name.

4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honour me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.

6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Prayers of Trust
Easter 4B 2015
Psalm 23

Guiding God, you are the Good Shepherd, who gives us all we will ever need,
not only with tangible things, but also with the spiritual and emotional strengths
that enable us to receive the gifts of a mature and trusting faith in God. We
gather in your secure presence to worship you; and because we trust in you—
we know that nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s nurturing and
healing love. We acknowledge that we will encounter many stresses in our life—
in our community and spiritual life, our health, our relationships, and employment,
or whatever we do in our-day-to-day living; we ask that you help us to grow in our
faith and trust in you – our Gracious and Generous God – so we may always seek
the path in life that leads to wholeness of life, lived in loyal obedience to our God.
God is the One who always cares for us, and who guides us along the right path.

Nurturing God, our Healing Shepherd, we gather together because we trust in you.
You have been our healer in the past, gifting us with wholeness of life, and you also
attend to our wounds - both our superficial hurts and our open gaping wounds – and
so we thank you for your loving care. You have also led us into quiet paths and restful
pastures where we have been spiritually, emotionally and physically restored; so that
renewed in strength and faith, we can go on in the path of discipleship. We gather
to celebrate the wonder of God’s care of us and to worship the Lord in holy security.
God is the One who gives us rest and security, even as we honour God’s Holy Name.

Welcoming God, through your gracious hospitality, you invite us into the holiness of
your presence, where we learn from you and experience the way “... you honour us
by anointing our head...”
with the oil of your blessings; and the joy of being in fellowship
with you; so that we are utterly overwhelmed by “...your goodness and unfailing love...”
We have complete trust in you, Generous God, even though we anticipate that there
could be times when threatening events in life may diminish us as people; yet we rely
on our Good Shepherd to guide us into fullness of life - as we worship and praise the
Lord, our Strong and Gentle Good Shepherd, throughout all the days of our lifetime.
God is the One whose own goodness and unfailing love always follows us - everywhere. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Easter 4B 2015
Psalm 23

King David is the acknowledged author of Psalm 23, and even as David paused to
reflect on the varied life of a shepherd, and of individual sheep within a flock, especially
under the care of an excellent shepherd; he also remembered that is was the traditional
role of the shepherd king to take responsibility for the care and protection of his people.
As he meditated on this, David was not in a secure position; instead, David was in grave
danger of the very real possibility of personally walking through life’s “darkest valley” as
he faced his own potential death. So, David’s opening words to this psalm were most
inspiring: “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need...”! David showed incredible
courage and trust in God as he lived out this faith-in-God statement as he calmly stated:
“....I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me....” If you were in a similar situation
of danger - either spiritually, physically, emotionally or because of a difficult relationship—
could you trustingly say and believe: “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need...”?

Creative pause: How strong is your faith and trust in God to supply all your needs?

No matter how often I read this psalm, I always want to say: “...I have all that I want...”
which I learned as a child; and which always sets me thinking about the differences
between “wants” and “needs”! After checking 25 translations to see which word is most
used, I discovered that there are about equal numbers of Bible translations that use the
word “want” as compared to “having all I need” or “I lack nothing”. However, even more
important to me are the first words in that verse: “The Lord is my shepherd...” During that
period of Israel’s history, the role of the shepherd played an important part in community
life. The shepherd/s were usually employed by a village, and their job was to keep the
village flocks healthy and safe, thus meeting most of the needs of the villagers for food and
clothing. The relationship between the sheep and shepherd/s was close and personal; and
in their lonely life, the sheep often became the shepherd’s own “family”. So, to claim that:
“The Lord is my shepherd...” stimulates one’s mind and heart to better understand that model
of intimacy; constant presence; one’s needs all met; safety and security; and loving care.

Creative pause: “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need...”

The last words of this psalm speak about what for David, was the ultimate security: “...I will
live in the house of the Lord forever.”
He would worship God in safety and security because:
“...I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me”, thus David affirmed his own understanding
of God’s near presence to him. There are multiple verses in the Old Testament urging and
encouraging people to “be not afraid” and to “fear not”; with most of the texts offering those
who are fearful, the assurance of God’s guiding presence with them; as an example: “...Don’t
be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you
and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.….”
1 God’s promises of support
and encouragement have sustained people in their faith since God first started to communicate
with people and people with God. The psalmist did not need a reminder that God was with him,
because his confident belief was openly asserted; as he already knew from his own experience
that the abiding presence of God was indeed always with him, surrounding and upholding him.

Creative pause: “…I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me...”

1 Isaiah 41: 10 (NLT)

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation,
copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

*Revised Indexing Scheme from 'Consultation on Church Union' (COCU).

I acknowledge and give heartfelt thanks for the theological inspiration available from the writings of
Professor Walter Brueggemann; and through the resources from the internet and “The Text this Week” (Textweek).

If the Prayers and/or Meditations are used in shared worship, please provide this acknowledgement:
© 2015 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year B. Used with permission.


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