The Ones Who Shepherd Us
God makes me lie down in green pastures; God leads me beside still waters; God restores my soul. – Psalm 23:2-3 (NRSV adapted)
Chances are good that you’ve already heard the 23rd Psalm. You may be familiar with excerpts of it or can recite it from memory. You may have learned it as a child or heard it at more than one funeral.
Such popularity has a price. Perhaps for you, as for me, the psalm can become rote and lose its meaning. Still waters and green pastures become something to rush through, rather than an invitation to slow down and relish God’s care and abundance.
Today, I invite you to take time to remember your experience of the psalm’s promises. Over the course of your life…
Who is one person who helped restore your soul?
Who has led you to green pastures and still waters?
Who has walked with you through the valleys of the shadows of death?
Who has anointed you and filled your cup to overflowing?
In a word, who have been your good shepherds? Who has fed you, protected and healed you, walked with you, even sacrificed some of their life for you?
And who have you helped to shepherd? A paradox of our faith is that we are sheep in need of God’s love and care, and also called to be God’s good shepherds who offer our lives for others. How has God enabled you to live into that call?
Either as a beloved sheep or a good shepherd, let your life breathe new life into this old psalm.
Thank you, Lord, for being our shepherd—for green pastures, still waters, cups that overflow, and all who have shepherded us. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Parts 1 and 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.