March 22, 2017
By Kate VanDerzee-Glidden.
Scripture: Psalm 23 (NRSV)
A Psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I 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
my whole life long.
I didn’t grow up memorizing long passages of Scripture, but there are some verses that I learned as a child that will forever be part of me. Psalm 23 is one of those passages.
Often we recite this poignant Psalm at funerals, and I’ll admit that frequently as the words come out of my mouth, I don’t think about the meaning of them. Yet sometimes when I’m reciting a passage or poem I know well, I have a moment where the words hit me in a profound way. That happened at a funeral I was helping to lead in January. As I said the words, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me,” I could feel my tears rising up.
I wonder why these words that I have known so long touched my heart in such a deep way. Perhaps it was because of the person whose life we were celebrating. Her life was one filled with happy times but also many challenging ones. Throughout the last year, I had grown close to her and had come to understand and admire her deep faith in God.
Or perhaps the words touched be so deeply because of the disappointments, losses, darkness and let downs we all experience. As we all know, life doesn’t always go as expected, and often times we long for the darkness of our lives and our world to be taken over by light and love.
Over and over again in the Bible, we are reminded of God’s presence on the journey of life – through the darkness and through the times that great light shines. Don’t we all need to be reminded that God is with us and that we are loved?
One of my favorite quotes is from Saint Teresa of Avila and reminds us that we aren’t on our journey of life along. “The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.” Thanks be to God for love, presence and life!
God of the journey, often we expect life to be filled with only joy and hope. Yet we all experience the challenges of life – the disappointments, the confusion, the sadness. We give thanks, Holy One, that you are with us on our journeys – loving, forgiving, pushing and holding us. May we always feel your presence and then share your love in the hurting world. Amen.
Rev. Kate VanDerzee-Glidden is the Associate Pastor of the First Church of Christ, Congregational in Glastonbury.
March 22, 2017