A Call to Worship
Easter 4C 2016
Psalm 23

We come to worship and give thanks to the Lord our Guarding Shepherd.
We come, because God quietens our fears and blesses us with a purpose.

We come to sing our praises to the Lord who gives us strength after rest.
We go, knowing that God sends us out again into ‘life’, after our times of rest.

We come to honour and revere the Lord, our Compassionate Shepherd, who
blesses us by carrying us over the rough paths in the dark valley of suffering.
We give thanks, that we are blessed with a feast of God’s overflowing grace—
as together with our Good and Guiding Shepherd, we face life’s hostile threats. 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 and Thankfulness
Easter 4C 2016
Psalm 23

Today, we come to worship and give thanks to the Lord who is our Guarding
and Guiding Shepherd; who grants us the blessings of having time out to rest
and be restored after a hard journey through life’s rugged places. We also give
thanks that we worship a God who understands that we are people who are
often doubting and even fearful about the risks involved in travelling along the
path in life we are called to tread. We acknowledge that there are times when
we are so weary and over-stretched, that we cannot function as we would like;
and that in our distress and malnourishment, our God guides us to rest within
the shelter of God’s holy presence; where we are nurtured and renewed in our
trust and hope in the God who is our Shepherd; whose strength empowers us—
and so we sing praises and offer our thankful prayers to our Shepherding God.

Supportive God, we give thanks that you walk with us, even ahead of us as we
travel the difficult paths of life. We give thanks for the balance you gift us in
life, with our good and contented times; along with those times of struggling to
deal with all that confronts us. We especially give thanks for God’s blessings on
us in times of distress, turmoil, anxiety, grief and loss. We are indeed blessed
when God carries us gently over the very rough times of life; when we are so
diminished of our usual hope, courage and strength, that we are incapable of
dealing with all that challenges our faith and trust in God. Compassionate God,
we come to you in trust and hope, as you are our Guiding Shepherd in all of life.

God of grace and God of generosity, we give thanks for the feasts of gracious
generosity that you spread before us, when we were only expecting to receive
crumbs! We give thanks for the healing balm of your love that refreshes and
renews us, when we were only expecting more bumps and bruises! We give you
thanks for the beauty and strength with which you surround our daily lives, when
often we expect only ugliness, temptation and endless struggle. Today, we join
in celebrating the wonders of our God that come to us as encouragements and
support when we are most in need of those gifts, and we give thanks that we
often find these as we worship together the God who continues to recreate us. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Easter 4C 2016
Psalm 23

The people who attend “Worship on Thursday” have many favourite songs and
hymns, especially those written by Sister Monica Brown, who continues to bless
with her messages; but the all-time favourite amongst us all is based on Psalm 23.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I don’t need a thing, I slumber in the meadow, cool
water I drink. And when I’m rested, and he’s quieted my fears, he sends me back
out walking, my path straight and clear…”
1 I love the concept that it is only when
we are rested and our fears are quietened and laid to rest, that our God sends us
back out walking along the pathways of life, whether that path is rough, steep, flat
or smooth. According to the word of the song, whatever the condition of the path,
God blesses us with the timeless promise that our path will be “...straight and clear…”1
even as we walk the path we have been called by our Guiding Shepherd to fulfil.

Creative pause: My Good Shepherd quietens all my fears and anxious doubts.

The chorus words are: “...So I am not afraid, your rod and staff protect me, no evil
will I fear, Lord, as I’m walking through the valley. And I am not afraid I know it’s me
you carry; with you by my side, Lord, I’ll make it through the valley...”
1 God only sends
us out when with God’s help we are capable of dealing with the “darkest valleys” of life
and also any threats from misadventure; or lack of appropriate care on our part. Also,
with God’s help and blessing, as we travel “through the valley”1 we need not fear any
evil, for God will actually carry us over the rougher parts of that “valley” journey. So,
we need not fear any evil or any obstacles along that pathway, protected as we are by
God’s merciful “...rod and staff...”1 – whatever those ‘tools’ are for you in life’s struggles.

Creative pause: What are the tools God places in your hands?

“...My daily bread and water will surely fill me up, but you bring me a feast, Lord, and an
overflowing cup. No, I am not afraid, your beauty’s all around me, with you by my side,
Lord, I am not afraid.”
1 How often do we convince ourselves that we are not worthy or
‘good enough’ for anything to sustain us except our “...daily bread and water...”?1 Or, how
often do we convince ourselves that living the plain and simple life and its pleasures are
all we really need? Yet, “...you bring me a feast, Lord, and an overflowing cup...”1 Or as
“The Voice” translation presents it: “...You care for all my needs, anointing my head with
soothing, fragrant oil, filling my cup again and again with your grace...”
2 It is only in and
through God’s grace that shepherds us towards the right pathways; and that grace which
journeys with us; who “…even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness…”2 takes us
by the hand to lead us through all our fears and anxious moments of doubt into the peace of trust of “The Eternal is my shepherd, he cares for me always... makes me whole again..”2

Creative pause: My Good Shepherd fills my cup to overflowing with grace and mercy.

1 “Sing unto the Lord” #1 CD of a 3 CD Set
“The Lord is my shepherd, I don’t need a thing”
Based on Psalm 23
Words adapted and music by Jeanne Gere
Used by Permission CCLI Licence No. 221735

2 “The Voice” Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc.
The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society
All rights reserved.

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 scholarship and 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:
© 2016 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year C. Used with permission.


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