A Call to Worship
Lent 4A 2017
Psalm 23

We come together to worship our God, who guides us along all life’s pathways.
Our Good Shepherd meets all our needs and cares for us in compassionate love.

We come together to praise our God, who offers us the gift of life’s rich fullness.
Our Gentle Shepherd is present with us through all of life’s challenges and fears.

We come together to thank our God, who comforts, blesses and supports us, even
offering us feasts in the face of all of life’s trials and hardships, its rest and struggles.
Our Guarding Shepherd gives us the strength and courage to face all that life offers
us, building up our trust and hope in the joy of God’s presence with us - to bless us. 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
Lent 4A 2017
Psalm 23

We come together in trust and joy to worship our God, who guides us along all of life’s
pathways, as our gentle and Good Shepherd meets all our needs and cares for us in
compassionate love. We are so blest in the way we are guided and led through the ups
and downs of life and through all its challenges. Through our pain and grief; in our joy
and contentment; and in our fear and bewilderment; confident that in all of these diverse
experiences, our Shepherd God is there beside us; ahead of us; and behind us; and
surrounding us with tender mercy and care. In reverent awe, we worship our Holy God.

We come together in trust and hope to praise our God, who offers us the gift of life’s
richest fullness when we are in fellowship with our God; and with our fellow pilgrims.
Our Gentle Shepherd is present with us whether we are in cool resting places or in the
dark valleys of life; where the future seems very bleak; and we are at our wits end to
understand what is happening around us. Tender Shepherd of your diverse flock, we
gather to support and encourage each other, even as we worship and praise our Maker—
confident that despite our many differences, we are part of one flock with one Shepherd.
In reverent awe, we praise and glorify your Holy Name, our Good Shepherd and Father.

We come together in trust and appreciation to thank our God, who comforts, blesses
and supports us. God even offers us a feast in the presence of all that threatens or frightens
us; all that intimidates and pressures us in our relationships; and all that causes us to take
risks that could endanger or inhibit our mental, physical or spiritual health and well-being.
Therefore, in confident trust, we hand over all these issues to you, Gracious Shepherd,
and rest in your care and hospitality as we feast together in the “... house of the Lord...”
In reverent awe, we give thanks to our Guarding Shepherd who gives us the strength and
courage to face all that life offers us, as we celebrate the joy of God’s presence with us. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Lent 4A 2017
Psalm 23

Psalm 23 is probably the most well known and our best loved of all the psalms;
and yet it is filled with contrasts and opposites. I admit to taking these words and
phrases out of context; but to me, the isolating of these words make them more real.
For example: ‘The Lord’, ‘he’, ‘his’, ‘you’, ‘your’ vs ‘I’, ‘my’, ‘me’. ‘Green meadows’,
‘peaceful streams’
vs ‘darkest valley’. ‘Rest’ vs ‘walk’. ‘Leads’, ‘guides’ vs ‘pursue’.
and ‘Blessings’
vs ‘need’. Other contrasts and opposites include: ‘Strength’, ‘protect’,
vs ‘afraid’. ‘Enemies’ vs ‘love’. And finally, ‘I have’, ‘I will’, ‘I will not’ vs ‘you prepare’,
‘your goodness’, ‘unfailing love’ and ‘he lets me’.
Maybe that is the explanation for
the wide-spread love of this psalm, because we can relate to all those contrasts; and
no one can feel left out or forgotten over relationships with God, others and creation!

Creative pause: No one is excluded from the reality of Psalm 23's message!

There are also similarities, connections and parallelisms throughout the words in the
psalm, for example: ‘Anointing my head with oil’, ‘his name’ = ‘the house of the Lord’.
‘Right paths' = ‘bringing honour’. ‘Your goodness and unfailing love’ = ‘close beside
me’. ‘Feast’ = ‘cup’. ‘Shepherd’, = ‘rod’ and ‘staff’. ‘Live’, ‘life’, ‘all my days’ = ‘forever’.
‘Renews’ = ‘overflows’. ‘Comfort’ = ‘presence’. ‘Close’ = ‘beside me’. And finally
‘surely’ = ‘even when’. The parallelism and linkages in this psalm emphasises the very
special words and message of this psalm, and the way the journey of life can be both
perilous and challenging, but also rich with rewards, especially if they lead us to the
worship of our God in our own sacred space, amongst our own community of faith.

Creative pause: We give thanks that God mercy fills us to overflowing with blessings!

Where and with whom would you find your ultimate security? My family has just visited
me from their overseas posting, and together we have revised my Will; my legal issues
through arranging the power of attorney for medical and legal issues; my requests for my
end of life care; and we planned my funeral service. This was an interesting experience
as it brought home to me in no uncertain terms the potential brevity of life here on this
planet, and where my ultimate security lay. Like the psalmist David, “...the house of the
became for me my real and true earthly home, and I look with anticipation to being
at home with God – even though that means physical separation from my family, but a
reunion with my wider and timeless family, who are now gathered together with our God.

Creative pause: Where and with whom is your ultimate security?

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:
© 2017 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year A. Used with permission.


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