The Quixotic Pastor

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Different Reading of Psalm 23?

When I first read the lectionary texts for this week [I think on Tuesday] I admit that, like many of my RGBP colleagues, my first response was, "Oh no. Sheep again --already?" I did not want to go there.

These passages at first glance were not reflective of where God has been leading my mind or my spirit lately. They are not reflective of my experience currently, I think because I perceive that sheep are kind of laid back, we'll follow where you lead, don't make waves kind of creatures and I have been very much in a wave-making mood these days. [Of course, what I know about sheep could be painlessly carved on the fingernail of my pinky ... in large print. Maybe sheep secretly make waves, at night, under cover of darkness? Whoda thunk it?]

But then I read, courtesy of textweek, an article by Kosuke Koyama, from The Christian Century, 1989, called "You Prepare a Table Before Me." Then, inspiration hit --what about reading Psalm 23 as an acknowledgement of God's radical hospitality extended toward us?

Here is the God who hosts an abundant table for us even while our enemies and foes hover near by. When my soul is troubled, She leads me to places of comfort, beauty and deep joy ... green pastures, still waters. He is a reliable guide through even the most unpleasant and fearful of journeys, when paths are difficult as well as when they are easy. I am always a welcome guest in God's home, and God does not stint on what God supplies me as Her guest. Is this not the best definition of hospitality, to welcome and make comfortable the wanderer, the lost, the homeless?

Think about how communities often respond to a crisis. In the south, one of the first things that happens after a death is that people stop by the house with food, so that the grieving family doesn't have to take time to prepare meals ... and so there's food aplenty for those who will visit.

Think about the people who took in on a temporary basis those whom Katrina made homeless ...

Think about the shoe stores in NYC that passed out sneakers to women who were struggling to get home on foot in high heels the day of 911 ...

Of course, God calls us in our turn to be hospitable to one another, to love our neighbor as ourselves, to welcome the stranger and sojourner in our midst ...

Bobby McFerrin has an incredible acapella arrangement of the 23rd Psalm that he dedicated to his mother in which the Lord is "She." What radical hospitality of the part of his mother helped him to compose this? [OK, in the event you're not already registered with Napster, the link is] If you have not heard this, it is well worth the effort to pursue. Somehow McFerrin imbues his arrangement with all of the stillness and serenity to be found in pastures green, besides the still waters ... in those places where the spirit rests comfortably and life is restored.

Yea!!!! A sermon I can live with ...


  • At 10:28 PM , Blogger Cecilia said...

    I love this reading of the psalm. I am going to preach on Revelation, focusing on the idea that the image of the lamb of God would be incredibly comforting to those who are powerless-- God in solidarity with the "least of these."

    Thank you for dropping by my blog. I have a wonderful MCC colleague here; we dream of doing ministry together. I have preached for her congregation. World Communion Sunday there felt more like the real church than any place i have yet been.

    Pax, C.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home