We have been in the wilderness before, but this one is different
We have faced trial and suffering before, but never quite like this
We have asked the age old questions
“why?” and “what for?” and now we ask again.
Good Shepherd, lead us and guide us through the mystery.
Lord this wilderness is testing us just as much as it is ministering to us.
In one moment we are overcome by the scorching scent of suffering,
Then in the next, we are drenched in the breaking waves of mercy.
Great Physician, heal your people.
You have heard our cries, “Let us return to the normal, the comfortable,
the safe and familiar.” We admit that we rather trust the evil that we
know, rather than the good that we don’t.
You have shown us that no one comes back
from the wilderness quite the same as before.
Christ who walked in the wilderness,
Teach us to trust.
Teach us to listen.
Teach us to learn.
We pray all this in the name
of our triune God,
We invite you to hear from the reading of Psalm 23.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 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.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 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.
The Good News of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
The grass withers and the flower fades,
but the Word of the Lord endures forever. Amen.
Sermon and Reflection
What does it look like to invite God to be with me in my longing?
How am I being held amidst the unsettling meal before me?
Where have I been followed by goodness and mercy in my journey?
The Lord is our sustainer, we have all that we need.
They lead us into the forest, alongside streams of peace
and into the hills of righteousness.
Though we walk down the long abandoned road,
we are not afraid. God has given us all that we need.
When we are in the presence of God,
what once felt scarce is more than enough;
it is abundant beyond measure.
We are assured that this goodness and mercy is who you are,
and that it will remain with us for all the days to come.
So go forth this week in the name
of God the Sustainer,
Christ the Good Shepherd,
and the Holy Spirit our Guide.
Go in peace and live the church.
May you find safety and rest throughout the week.
[Photo by Hayden Williams @ Flickr]