Traveling through Scottish highlands, I inquired of our guide “What are all those round stone circles in the fields? And why is there no gate at the opening?”
ANSWER : “Sheepfolds! ... and when gathered inside for safety, the shepherd LAY DOWN in front of the opening to protect his flock from harm.”
Laying down meant BEING THE GATE! — being first in line to be attacked by whatever predators were lurking nearby. Now THAT’S dedication!!
Furthermore — a good shepherd always:
chooses personal sacrifice for the welfare of the flock.
is totally devoted to his flock’s well-being, providing for nourishment and rest.
guides them with care — lovingly leading the way.
is intimately concerned for the safety of EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.
In Biblical times, everyone knew the relationship between shepherd and flock, so when Jesus wanted to impart to people how very much he loved them, he used the analogy of being a “Good Shepherd” and they understood instantly the depth of his caring!
Throughout the years, PSALM 23 has become the most popular psalm of all 150 of them. Chances are you memorized it in church school. It has been murmured in hospital beds, foxholes, prison cells and in all kinds of desperate situations— describing the kind of intimate shepherd our God is — a loving Presence whom we can count on to be with us always as we travel our life’s journey …
“leading us into pleasant pastures and still waters, restoring our very souls…
walking with us in the dark valleys and scary places of our lives…
not only just feeding us but preparing a feast before our enemies…
not only blessing us, but filling our cup to overflowing…
offering goodness and mercy and love…”
Each one of us God’s precious child … whom God passionately adores… FOREVER.
John Rutter, widely revered British composer and conductor of choral works, wrote an exquisitely beautiful interpretation of the 23rd Psalm (click here to listen); he also included it within his REQUIEM, which is a most poignant musical reflection of the journey from darkness to LIGHT.
THIS SUNDAY (March 26) our own choir will be singing portions of this amazing work (including Psalm 23) in honor of the Cloud of Witnesses gone from our sight — but ever alive in our hearts. Please accept it as a PRAYERFUL OFFERING rather than a choir “performance.“ As you listen, you may wish to close your eyes and let the music simply wash over you, allowing God to speak to your spirit in deep places…
The word “requiem” means REST. May the experience of hearing it bring each of you “rest” in the God who loves you.