Psalm 23 ….a mixture of emotions.

clown-with-mixed-emotions

For me, this week has been a mixture of grief, reminders of past events, and consequences of actions…… and one Psalm has been reeling in my head….Psalm 23

It’s the most well-known Psalm in the Bible. We all know it, we have sung it, read it, maybe have a book mark with it on .. Some of you here may want it sung at your funeral, some of you may have had it at your wedding … It’s a firm favourite of the Queen …. to the tune Crimond.

I’ve read it a thousand times, memorized it as a child, preached and used it as a focus in prayer groups and have even sung several settings of it in a choir…. the most famous being Howard Goodall setting to the ‘Vicar of Dibley’.It speaks of a place where through trials and temptations, the Lord is there to guide us to a place of safety and security, a place where we be healed and anointed, a place where we will rest and find peace … Dwelling in the house of the Lord forever … Many envisage this as heaven, whatever it is like to you…we are yet again reminded that we live in a chaotic world, a world of pain, of mess, of tyranny and evil.

The Psalm has an enormous capacity to absorb the imagination, because it is a Psalm that was made for terror, yet it is  typically read as a Psalm of comfort, and that is surely still there, but there are also at least two penetrating verses.

I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”…The Psalmist doesn’t deny fear and the reality of evil, nor its capacity to wreak havoc…. but the Psalmist has adopted a resolute stance in the face of this real threat–No Fear.

You spread a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows.”

If our first impulse is fear in the face of terror, our second impulse is vengeance.  I mentioned earlier that I have been recalling past events and consequences of actions, especially to those people who have are innocent bystanders. I want to get even with those who have hurt the people I love. Yet this passage can give comfort, to the troubled, guidance to those who seek a path, but by opening up the Psalm deeper we can reveal that it is a comfort borne out of pain and grief, and we all here are familiar with those emotions… for it is

  • where the ordinary meets the extraordinary,
  • where God encounters the rawness of humanity.

Christians and the Church need to lead society by re-framing this Psalm, not as a wishy washy psalm but a psalm with backbone….. then and only then can we stand alongside our brothers and sisters and say we will fear no evil for God is with us, and he will wipe away every tear away from our eyes, for God anoints our heads and then our cup will overflow.

God of mixed emotions

When we feel troubled, carry us to a place of safety

When we feel angry, carry us to place of peace

When we feel hurt, carry us to place of blessing.

When we fear evil, carry us to place where your Spirit dwells

When we feel confronted, anoint our heads with oil

God of mixed emotions ….Shalom

 

 

 

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Difficult relationships

difficult relationships

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6: 31

Relationships !!…..my they can be difficult … but not all of them are thank goodness!!.

However, there was a young girl during my time at senior school, who made my life a misery. At any and every opportunity, she would humiliate and verbally abuse anyone unfortunate enough to cross her path. She was a bully, and like many others, I lived in fear of her approaching me. One day, about 10 yrs after I left school, I saw her make a beeline over to me. I was nursing by this time, but you can imagine how I felt … petrified and sick in my stomach !! My mouth became dry and my hands clammy the closer she came towards me. Then she greeted me with a smile, clasped hold of my hand and started to apologise for her behaviour at school. I was convinced that this sudden friendliness was just a front to conceal a plan. But it wasn’t…. it was real. And even when she was friendly towards me I still flinched and became suspicious of her intentions.

Love your enemies?

It’s hard enough, even when they extend the hand of friendship. To love those who continue to hurt us – its asking a lot isn’t it ?

Yet that is the way of Christ…….. It does not mean liking them, but it means ready to forgive…..,

to put the past behind and to start with a clean slate….

to meet rejection with acceptance,

to wish good rather than evil

 

Can you do that?… I i know i find it difficult, but I am sure I should.

One look at the world with all its tensions and conflicts and divisions and prejudices ….give us a bleak picture of the alternative.

 

Prayer

Forgiving God

You ask us to turn the cheek,

to love our enemies,

are you sure you mean that  ?

 

It is so difficult when they hurt me,

Humiliate me,

Destroy me.

 

Help me to love and forgive all your people,

Even those who would wish me harm.

Soften my heart,

For the sake of Jesus, your Son, my Lord

Amen