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Psalm 23 King James Version (KJV)

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 for ever.

Christ is Risen!

He is Risen, Indeed! Alleluia!

The 23rd Psalm. I share the King James Version because for many of us, this is how we first learned it. There is a beautiful melody and rhythm to it, yes?

We often share these words at funerals and gravesides. The words are comforting and promising. There is comfort in knowing God is like a loving shepherd. We hear Jesus speak of himself as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. We have images of this in our churches. In one of my previous churches is the Good Shepherd window.

Even the image itself is a comfort. A member of that church told me this window was the reason she came to our church after several years of being away from stepping into a sanctuary. She said that she drove by the church one evening and saw this window with the light shining through it. That was the invitation she needed to come back to church.

There are words and images that bring us back. They bring us comfort. In them we find God’s promise.

I have found myself at the bedside of many over the years, wondering if my words were being comprehended or even heard. Yet when I would begin to recite the Lord’s Prayer, the words formed on their lips. What had been learned and recited and repeated still remained.

My dad experienced some mini strokes later in life, and he found it difficult to speak. This frustrated my Mom, because he wasn’t able to participate in conversations. I reminded Mom that Dad wasn’t much of a speaker for most of his life, and his greatest fear when he got married was what they would talk about for the next 50 years!

I remember a visit with my parents at the assisted living facility that was home for their last few years. Dad had his walker with him everywhere he went. Inside the basket attached to the walker was a worship bulletin from my church. It was the bulletin prepared for the building dedication – I brought a copy for my parents to see.

The bulletin was opened to one of the past pages. One day when Mom had left the room, Dad picked up the bulletin and pointed to the Lord’s Prayer. In his limited speech, he shared with me that he prayed that prayer every day. But he kept the bulletin nearby because sometimes he forgot the words.

The 23rd Psalm is lovely, filled with words of comfort and promise.

Yet I believe it is more than just the words. It is also familiar.

That can be comforting and promising too.

Let us pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

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