Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Song of the Shepherd

(photo: Tuscan hillside - I believe I got this from Andrew)

My Men's small-group has the summer off. But I still get together with a few of my friends occasionally just to talk and pray. Sometimes one or two guys, sometimes as many as three or four.

Last time we met we talked about Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd....). It's one of those readings that is so well-know it's become almost cliche. Then, because it's become so cliche, many people don't even know the Psalm any more. It's often parked on the sidelines because "That's overdone" - but for so many who are fairly new to faith it's not overdone at all... in fact it's overlooked.

So, those of us who have been kicking around the faith world for a long long time seem to be neglecting the 23rd Psalm... and those who are brand-new to Christianity haven't even talked about it in any depth for the first time!

Consequently, and because the content of the Psalm spoke directly to a circumstance we were discussing, my friends and I read it again. Then we agreed to re-read the scripture every day for a week, and to read it out loud. I used the C.E.V. translation, I like the nuances it reveals:

The Good Shepherd
You, LORD, are my shepherd. I will never be in need. You let me rest in fields of green grass. You lead me to streams of peaceful water, and you refresh my life.

You are true to your name, and you lead me along the right paths. I may walk through valleys as dark as death, but I won't be afraid. You are with me, and your shepherd's rod makes me feel safe.

You treat me to a feast, while my enemies watch. You honor me as your guest, and you fill my cup until it overflows. Your kindness and love will always be with me each day of my life, and I will live forever in your house, LORD.

Reading the Bible out loud is a moving exercise. There's a sense in which the words of scripture are loaded with a spiritual presence that transcends the value of the words as mere language. This is heightened - in my experience - when the words are read aloud.

So I tend to meet God in a fresh way whenever I read God's word. It's a simple truth that I echo time and again in this space. But it's a story worth repeating.

Won't you accept this challenge? Take Psalm 23 and read it out loud - right now. Then repeat the exercise, daily, for one week. Add a few minutes of quiet prayer to the experience. But, most of all, simply meet up with God.

Grace and Peace - DEREK

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