Thursday, April 22, 2010

Devotional 4-23-10

“Comfort Food”

Lectionary Readings: Acts 9:36-43; Psalm 23; Revelation 7: 9-17; John 10: 22-30

I was very pleased when I looked at the lectionary readings for this week and realized that one of my favorites was on the list. Like many of you, I think that the 23rd Psalm is one of the most inspired writings attributed to David. The psalm is widely known and deeply loved. This psalm has provided the lyrics for many songs and anthems written for children of all ages. One version is found in the Rutter Requiem that we sang during Lent. It has also been used as a prayer, a message of comfort for the dying, a sign of hope for the grieving and as the topic of many sermons. It is also the topic of a book, “Traveling Light”, by Max Lucado. Mr. Lucado has a way with words and I highly recommend this book for his insights into these well-loved words.

I have to tell you that the words of this psalm are an oft repeated “mantra” for me. My brain has finally mastered the memorization of the psalm and saying it over and over helps me to go to sleep. I even bought the bracelet that has multiple shaped stones and symbols of the words. I take this bracelet with me when I’m traveling, to remind me of the words of the psalm when I’m trying to sleep in an unfamiliar place. I also find it very comforting to repeat the words aloud as part of a worship service. We are all sheep, but there is but One shepherd—thus, these become words of celebration and exultation when repeated with many voices.

So it occurred to me that the 23rd Psalm is comfort food for our souls. We need it just like those who are calmed by chocolate, sugar cookies or peanut butter. The words wrap around us as snugly as grandma’s hand-stitched quilt in the big old rocking chair. There is something in this psalm for every soul. Maybe the phrase that means the most to you is: “He restores my soul.” Maybe it is: “I shall not want”. Maybe you need the entire psalm to feel God’s message for you. Whatever you need, the shepherd provides for his sheep—even comfort food.

So as a prayer for yourself and your loved ones, for those who are suffering, for those who are grieving, for our churches and the world, I invite you to say out-loud these love-filled words with me:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside still the waters, He restores my soul.
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, 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.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. NRSV

Chyrl Budd

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Chryl, I needed to read your devotional. An especially good one and good timing. The Lord does work in mysterious ways. Kay