Psalm 23

LORD God, divine shepherd;
in the days ahead, just as it has been all my life, 
I shall not want for anything.
You will rest me in rich pasture 
and lead me beside calm waters.
You will bring my inner being back where it belongs,
and lead me along the right paths, 
for the sake of your name.
Even when things seem at their darkest,
sensing your presence, I fear nothing;
you are sure of the way ahead, and you protect me.
Indeed, in spite of the adversity surrounding me
you continue to provide abundantly for my well-being;
anointing me with your hospitality
and pouring out blessing upon blessing.
Surely good and lovingkindness will pursue me all my days,
I will return, and you, O LORD, 
shall be my dwelling-place for days
without end.


The Lord is my shepherd, That’s Relationship!
I shall not want. That’s Supply!
He makes me lie down in green pastures, That’s Rest!
he leads me beside quiet waters, That’s Refreshment!
he refreshes my soul. That’s Healing!
He guides me along the right paths That’s Guidance!
for his name’s sake. That’s Purpose!
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, That’s Testing!
I will fear no evil, That’s Protection!
for you are with me; That’s Faithfulness!
your rod and your staff, they comfort me. That’s Discipline!
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. That’s Hope!
You anoint my head with oil; That’s Consecration!
my cup overflows. That’s Abundance!
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, That’s Blessing!
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord That’s Security!
forever. That’s Eternity!

A prayer of thanks

Gentle Shepherd, thank you for the way you have led us to green pastures and still water;
you’ve shown us beauty this week that has fed our souls.
The brilliant green of the budding trees glowing in the morning sun
the delicate symphony the birds sing each morning
the caress of the warm sun on our upraised cheeks,
the fragrance of lilac in the evening.
 
Some of us have walked through dark valleys this week,
and all of us know someone in a dark valley,
valleys of sickness, grief, uncertainty, fear.
You meet us there in the darkness, you protect us.
Our enemies are present in our lives;
forces that would take us away from you.
Pride, envy, hatred, selfishness,
all played out on an individual and corporate level.
We need your help in our lives.
You have heard the concerns of our hearts
that were spoken during our prayer time today,
and you heard the concerns that were unspoken,
which weight too heavily for us to share them.
We call on you for help; you guide us carefully.

You have provided for our basic needs this week,
thank you for the food we’ve eaten,
for the luxury of variety in our diet,
for the joy of cooking,
for the clean water that comes out of our taps.

You anoint us with oil,
you gift us with grace,
providing unexpected blessings over and over,
encouragement and new strength when we falter
tender compassion when we are spent.
Goodness and mercy is following us
all the days of our lives.
We give thanks for this good life,
for life and breath this day,
a day to praise and thank you,
we want to stay in your Presence forever.
Amen.


A prayer for our people

Good Shepherd, within your embrace we are safe and secure. Within your embrace we know that we are precious in your sight. Within your embrace we feel the warmth of family and belonging. Within your embrace we grow and are nurtured together as one flock, the people of your pasture under your loving care and protection.

Good Shepherd, within your embrace we find comfort and healing. We bring to you those who are weak, or struggling with physical, mental, or spiritual health. You are the great healer, and we pray for healing of mind and body for those we now name in the silence of our hearts.

Good Shepherd, within your embrace we find justice. We bring to you the brave voices who cry out for freedom, those prepared to stand up and be heard without counting the cost. We pray for those who have been imprisoned or tortured for their race, colour, caste, or faith. For all Christians who have taken up the Cross and know its weight and pain.

Good Shepherd, within your embrace we find peace. We bring to you those orphaned, crippled or dispossessed by war, for refugees wandering this earth in search of a home, for all victims of strife and warfare, and for all those who have dedicated their lives for the search for peace and reconciliation.

Good Shepherd, within your embrace we find faithfulness. We bring to you those consumed by fear of this pandemic that surrounds us, for those who have been taken by this disease, and for all those who risk their lives to care for those laid low and in need of great help.

Good Shepherd, we pray these prayers within your embrace. Grant us safety and security, comfort and healing, justice, and freedom, embrace and peace and faithfulness.
Amen.


Benediction

Go now, and may God be at your side, even in valleys of death. May Christ Jesus be the cornerstone of your life. And may the Holy Spirit abide in you ….and tend you with love and mercy all the days of your life. Amen


Rev. Jim Williams, 22nd June 2020


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