Allow me to share with you a promising and bold paraphrase of Psalm 23 … originally written by a blogger named Geoff McElroy … and something I have quoted and expanded upon. A paraphrase:
•I am not certain about what is going on in my life right now,
•BUT the Lord is my shepherd.
•I may be struggling to make ends meet,
•BUT I will not lack.
•I might have trouble sleeping because of everything going on around me,
•BUT God MAKES me lie down in good pastures.
•Storms, tsunamis, floods, and hurricanes may bring damage to life and limb,
•BUT God will lead me beside still waters, and God will splash newness upon my soul.
•Death happens every day – naturally, savagely, accidently, unexpectedly, in war, at home, on the streets, and in hospitals
•BUT I will fear no evil, for my God is with me.
•I might be beaten down and hurt and broken right now,
•BUT my very being is daily restored by my Shepherd, my God!
•The details of life overwhelm me and I may be to busy to care about taking care of others, let alone taking care of myself,
•But God anoints my head with oil, God knows the numbers of hairs on my head, and God likely knows me better than I know myself.
•In the midst of all the chaos of life, sometimes I believe I am lost, I am alone,
•BUT only goodness and mercy will follow me because I belong to God. My past, my present and my future remain with my Shepherd, this day and forevermore.
Psalm 23. This is a psalm of comfort and proclamation, but it sometimes gets a bad reputation. As you know, it is often used in funerals. Which is certainly appropriate, extremely appropriate ... however, because that is where we hear it the most, we often ONLY associate it with death ~ when, in truth, Psalm 23 talks about every aspect of our life now, as well as our life eternal to come.
o Psalm 23 brings us compassion and guidance,
o lessons and healing,
o certainty and relationship.
Psalm 23 brings us Jesus.
As truth tellers, this Psalm is hard, maybe impossible, to believe in times of crisis. The Psalms of lament, like Psalm 22, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” might well feel more appropriate in Aurora, Colorado this week. Psalm 22 is a call for God to be present in crisis, in terror, in hate, in cruelty, and in fear. Psalm 22 groans for God's presence, God's intervention, God's compassion.
Friends, it is not a mistake that Psalm 23 follows such a psalm of laments. Psalm 23 is
•God’s answers to our prayers.
•God’s tears in our sadness.
•God’s compassion in our lives ... individually, as a community, and in all of creation.
So, let us claim the fullness of this Psalm. Let us find the compassion, intervention and presence of God in our lives today, as in our eternal lives to come.
So be it. Amen.
(sermon, in part, July 22, 2012 at Bethel Lutheran Church)