Psalm 23 Haiku

The psalmist beautifully depicts the life of sheep, and I can relate. I am a sheep going through a dark valley, with Satan working overtime, but I’m not alone. Two very close prayer warriors/friends reminded me of that truth recently.

Sheep in a valley.
A wolf’s hungry eyes craving.
Smack! The Shepherd’s staff.

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

[Psalm 23:1‭-‬6 ESV]

Sheep and THE Shepherd

The Gospel text for Sunday seems like a piece meal deal that cuts out a major story (The Feeding of the 5000).  But before we get too excited, the Feeding of the 5000 account is picked up next week when we begin a 6 week stretch in the Gospel of John.  This stretch in John starts with the feeding story and then a series or texts that talk about Jesus as the Bread of Life.  We will deal with that more in the coming weeks…but back to sheep and the Shepherd.

This Sunday, Jeremiah mentions the shepherds who have scattered God’s sheep and God’s response to their irresponsibility.  The Psalm is Psalm 23…”The Lord is my shepherd…“.  The second lesson is from Ephesians 2.  It doesn’t talk about sheep and shepherds specifically, but some correlations can be drawn.  The key verse that jumps out to me here is 2:19 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, with Jesus Christ himself as the chief cornerstone.”  And then the Mark text from chapter 6 has people flocking to Jesus.  And even though he and the disciples are trying to get some R & R, Jesus has compassion on the people “because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  So he began teaching them many things.”  Lots to deal with here.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I still haven’t totally figured out what I am preaching on yet (actually I should say that the Holy Spirit hasn’t revealed it to me yet).  But here are some thoughts I am pondering (at least until further notice):

(1) “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” (Jer. 23:1)
–As people who know the truth of God through Jesus Christ, we have an amazing responsibility.
–God WILL bring all his sheep back under one righteous King (referring to Jesus).
–God has a heart for “sheep”.

(2) Psalm 23…”and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Picking up where Jeremiah left off.

(3) Ephesians…God’s gift of salvation is for ALL people through Jesus Christ.

(4) As “sheep” we all need a shepherd.  But as we see from Jeremiah, we need to be aware of what shepherd we are following.  There is only one GOOD Shepherd.

Those are just a few things I am pondering and I am sure others will pop up today.  So with that I ask you:
What preachable moments are you seeing in the texts?
Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm 23
Ephesians 2:11-22
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

As a lay person sitting in the pew (and I know there are a number of you out there reading this…and many who are here in Jackson) what do you need to hear…right now…in this place?

What does it mean for you to be considered “sheep” and that Jesus is our “Shepherd”?

Until next time, happy scripture reading and have a blessed “sheepish” day following our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

Praise be to God!


“Sheepish” scripture and Holy Spirit inspiration

This Sunday (Pentecost 7) we have some sheep and shepherd talk…and I like it.  It is a far cry from last week where we had Amos talking about God’s plumb line and Mark talking about John the Baptist being beheaded.  Not that we are to shy away from the difficult texts, but it is always fun to deal with ones that are…and I don’t want to say “easy”…but rather fun, descriptive, memorable (like Psalm 23), and other adjectives that just are not coming off my tongue right now.  I don’t know what I am preaching on yet but I am sure something will inspire me.

<on that note…about being inspired>

I want to share with you what happened to me last Thursday.

I usually come to my office on Thursday morning with some idea on what scripture I am using in the sermon and with some idea on the direction I will be heading.  Last Thursday I was clueless.  I had no idea what scripture to preach on and had no idea on even a focus statement.  Those are Thursdays that make me a little nervous (“O you of little faith”).  So I went up to the sanctuary (as is my custom on Thursday mornings) to read the scripture and talk through some ideas.  And before I knew it I had the scripture and focus statement.  I ran up to my office and started typing.  By the time I was ready to leave for Coffee Choices to have lunch and write the sermon (as is my custom on Thursdays) the sermon was done.  The Holy Spirit got a hold of my fingers and went to work.  It was quite a sight to behold…and a lot of fun.

“O you of little faith”

That was the phrase I kept hearing.  And I should know better because this is not the first time this has happened.  It just goes to further remind me that the sermon that is preached on Sunday does not belong to the preacher, but to God.  I try to refrain from saying “my sermon” and try to use the phrases like “the sermon” or “God’s message” etc.  To get into a “zone” like I did on Thursday is such a humbling thing.  It also further reminds me of part of the prayer I pray each Thursday morning (an excerpt and paraphrase of Luther’s sacristy prayer), “I am not a good writer, speaker or preacher and if this was left up to me I would surely bring it all to ruin”.  Amen to that.

So with all that in mind I am off to prepare for Sunday or rather…listen for God’s direction.  Maybe I should start with God being my shepherd and me following like a little sheep.

Praise be to God!