Surely Goodness and Mercy Shall FollowPosted: March 22, 2020
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The rhythm of the liturgical year is a source of strength. The Psalm for this the fourth Sunday in Lent is Psalm 23. Everyone has a personal favorite translation that brings Scripture alive and language that speaks clearly. My personal favorite for this particular psalm is the King James Version. The poetic style and the memory of this passage dwell deeply within my soul.
On this fourth Sunday in Lent, I pray that you will be comforted in the midst of this unusual season as we face an enemy without a face and one that invades without warning. Not only do I find scripture comforting today, but I am also comforted by the amazing connectivity of friends and loved ones. Perhaps the great unexpected gift I am experiencing in this unusual season is the gift of networking and sharing great ideas, prayers and poetry.
A friend sent this John O’Donohue poem yesterday:
This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall until the bitter weather passes.
Try as best you can, to not let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
again on pastures of promise
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.
These two poems, Psalm 23 and this poem from John O’Donohue, gather for me a sense that in spite of my own experienced anxiety and frustration in this moment, we are not alone. In this season, this long unanticipated break with routine and ritual, there is One who walks with us.
So be comforted.
On this Fourth Sunday in Lent, Breathe.
- Breathe deep the Psalm for this day.
- Pray the Lord’s Prayer. Winfield Bevins calls “The Lord’s Prayer” a portable sanctuary we take with us everywhere we go.
- Listen to the Taize song, “O Lord Hear My Prayer.” And with the Psalm, let this worshipful music wash over your anxiety, your fear, your uncertainty. (Below find a You Tube link to the song.)
- Remain generous.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper has asked that today be a day of prayer for the city of Nashville.
I extend that invitation to the Nashville Episcopal Area.
- Offer prayer for others
- Offer prayer for medical workers on the front lines who are facing incredible challenges
- Use the prayer below to stir your mind for those we do not always remember
Be comforted and reminded of God’s presence for all of us with the following prayer by Dr. Cameron Wiggins Bellm of Seattle, Washington. It was shared with me by one of our clergy colleagues in the Memphis Conference.
I offer it with the grace of our shared life.
“Prayer for a Pandemic”
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have had to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
Let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors. Amen.
As Psalm 23 comforts, as John O’Donohue invites, as the prayer above petitions, let us choose to hold one another in our physical distance with the unending presence of God’s light and God’s love.
May we soon find our feet again on pastures of promise. May the green pastures and the still waters of the holiness of God’s grace and strength go with you into another uncertain week. And may the goodness of the Lord follow us all the days of our lives.
O Lord Hear My Prayer