God our Shepherd,
You guide us away from danger,
Carry us when we’re weak,
And You are there to watch over us.
You truly care.
You are our good shepherd! Amen.
Scripture: Psalm 23
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 right paths
for his name’s sake.
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.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint 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
my whole life long.
Memory Verse: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1)
Creative Reading: “Psalm 23” by Bobby McFerrin
Psalm 23 has to be the most widely recognized and memorized of all the 150 Psalms. I don’t think my current church ever has a funeral without the congregation reading (or saying from memory) these words of comfort. Do these words mean more to us in a modern world filled with deadlines and to-do lists, and the anxiety and stress that frequently accompany them? And that’s just our lives at a micro level. Magnify that across our country and the world, and it’s a world where the calm, peace-filled life of Psalm 23 eludes many.
For us and many others, a calm and peace-filled life is a dream, and a distant one – always some far-off goal (when our kids are out of diapers or when we retire), but the “busy” continues way past diapers and well into retirement.
How is it then that as parents we model striving for this calm peace-filled life? Notice I used the verb “strive.” We are imperfect parents whose stresses and strains are visible (or known) to many, even those closest to us. The Psalm isn’t a song about getting it right, but a song about a life fully reliant on God. It’s a Psalm about being in a dependent relationship with God, much like a sheep depends on his or her shepherd. There is a reason this is most widely recognized and memorized of all the Psalms.
Questions to Spark Conversation:
Why is it important that sheep stay in green pastures and only drink from still water?
How do shepherds care for their sheep?
How does God care for us?
Spring has sprung and, finally (at least in the Northeast), there is fresh grass on which to lay. I invite you and your family to find a field, park, or your backyard and lay in the fresh grass. Relax, breathe a few deep breaths. How does the grass feel against your body? What does the grass smell like?
After laying there for a few minutes in silence, how do you begin to feel? Does your heart rate slow down? Do you feel the peace or calm that David’s song expresses?
–Jennifer DiFrancesco blogs at “A Spirit Filled Life.”
What synergy! I wrote about shepherding on this week’s blog as well. Check it out at Faith Bytes: Elsie Spins a Blog, firstname.lastname@example.org, and think about all the parallels between parenting and shepherding.