There is perhaps no other portion of scripture that is more well-known than Psalm 23. It is one that is cherished by multiple faith communities. Coming from Hebrew scripture, it is near and dear to our Jewish friends, reflecting an unshakeable faith in Yahweh who protects and guides. Christians, of course, also claim these verses as central to our faith. Many of us learn Psalm 23 in our earliest days in Sunday School. People of faith often turn to it in times of trouble or need. We hear it, speak it and hold it in our hearts at almost every funeral or memorial service. If we’ve memorized any piece of scripture, it is likely that we’ve memorized this!
Our lectionary readings for Sunday include Psalm 23 along with a portion of John’s gospel that reminds us that Jesus is the good shepherd. What does it mean for us to be sheep? What does it mean to have a shepherd? This week we’ll spend some time in the shelter of Psalm 23…remembering all those who have gone before us who have known and cherished this psalm and reflecting on the ways we know and are known by the ultimate shepherd, Jesus.
I hope you’ll join us for online worship at 9:00 this Sunday as we offer our praise and thanks to God, as we connect with God’s love, community and call and as we explore our faith together. You are also invited to join the Wednesday Bible Study that reviews the scripture and sermon topic from the previous Sunday and reflects on the questions of the week. If you’re interested in joining us from 11:30 to 12:30 on Wednesdays, please notify the church office or Pastor Lori and we’ll send you the Zoom link. Drop-ins are welcome!
Psalm 23 (NRSV)
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.
John 10:11-18 (NRSV)
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”
Questions to consider:
- Do you remember when you learned Psalm 23?
- What has this psalm meant to you over the course of your lifetime?
- What hope or reassurance does it provide? Does it raise any questions?
- What does it mean to you to know and be known by Jesus, the good shepherd?