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Minnesota Episcopal
Environmental
Stewardship
Commission (MEESC)

Episcopal Church in Minnesota
Shield of Episcopal Church

Upcoming Activities:

Next Meeting:

We meet quarterly close to the solstice and equinox.


Annual Special Projects


Resolutions:

Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Production

Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds


Resolution on Creation Season

Resolution on Green Congregations

 

 

Lectionary Reflection

Year A, Lent 4

   

Year A, Easter 4

Year B, Easter 4

Year C, Easter 4

Year A, Proper 23
Gospel Theme Track

Year B, Proper 11
Gospel Theme Track

Confession of St. Peter

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd; *
I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures *
and leads me beside still waters.

3 He revives my soul *
and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.
4 Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; *
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; *
you have anointed my head with oil,
and my cup is running over.

6 Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, *
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

 

Reflections onPsalm 23

by John G. Gibbs, PhD

Note: This reflection originally written as part of a series of reflections during the Season of Easter, Year A.

"Becoming People Who Are Safe for the World" (Sheep of the Shepherd)

This is one of the psalms of trust. Psalm 11, for instance, expresses trust in God as the maintainer of Justice, for: "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" But wait, for God's eyes "examine humankind," God "hates the lover of violence," but "loves righteous deeds."

Similarly, Psalm 23 expresses trust in God the protector, whose rod and staff "comfort me" in the presence of "evil." It is also trust in God the gracious host who "prepares a table before me" and invites me to "dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long."

The first 3 verses set a bucolic scene that is pastoral in every way. The Shepherd, verdant pastures, "waters of rest" [Hebrew]-all these are evoked to communicate both who God is, and what God's merciful (v. 6) purpose toward the psalmist is. Not even in "the darkest valley" is any individual alone, for "the Lord is my shepherd" who even there finds a way to lead us back to green pastures and waters of rest.

This trust in God brings certainty of sufficiency: "I shall not want." As a later hymn-writer put it: "I nothing lack if I am His, And He is mine forever."

A second certainty is security. "I fear no evil; for you are with me." Realism about evil, and about the darkest valleys in our lives, is acknowledged and overcome by this kind of God and this kind of trust in God. Elie Wiesel, who barely survived Nazi concentration camps, has rightly remarked that we should say about God only what we can affirm when we stand at the upper edge of a pit that is filled with burning babies. There is no security for those who run away from death, violence, and horror. Only those are secure who feel steadied by this Shepherd, no matter how dark may be their valley.

Trust in God, thirdly, makes us steadfast. Desert hospitality afforded refuge within a tent to a fugitive, but only for a short time (two days and their intervening night). God's hospitality, however, has no limit. It lasts "my whole life long." That is what we can count on, that is what makes us steadfast. [See John Paterson, The Praises of Israel (Scribner's, 1950), pp. 113-14; Charles H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, I, pp. 356-57.]

People of this Shepherd Psalm have within them the kind of Shalom (Peace) that, if it is lived out in deeds, prepares them to be safe for "all creatures great and small." Such People live in harmony with all God's creation.


by Nan Stokes

Note: This reflection originally written for Lent 4, Year A.

Today we read of the anointing of David, the shepherd boy, in the Old Testament lesson, and we are refreshed with the familiar words of the 23rd Psalm, full of descriptions of God's creation, where we long to be – green pastures and still waters. Even in the presence of those who trouble us, we fear not, because we are comforted and God is with us. Samuel poured oil on David's head, and "the spirit of the Lord came mightily on David" with this anointing. It's hard to imagine what it would be like to have oil poured on your head, but it would certainly get your attention! It is hard to relate to what it was like to be a shepherd alone in green pastures, too, and yet when we are overwhelmed with all the trials of our daily lives, it seems idyllic – a quiet place where our souls can be revived. Do you have such a quiet, sacred place where you can go, either physically or in your thoughts, and be refreshed, no matter how loud and busy the surroundings? Do you find God there? How blessed you are if you are aware that goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life. Keep that thought, as penitence consumes you, and Lent leads you on to Easter.

Printable version

 

Reflections on other Readings combined with Psalm 23

Reflections available at the active links
Year A, Lent 4
Year A, Easter 4
Old Testament
(Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
1 Samuel 16:1-13 
Acts 2: 42-47
(First Reading)
Psalm
Psalm 23
(this page)
Psalm 23
(this page)
New Testament Reading:
Ephesians 5: 8-14 
1 Peter 2:19-25
Gospel
John 9: 1-41
   
   


Reflections available at the active links
Year A, Proper 23
Year B, Easter 4
 
Semi-Continuous
Track
Gospel Theme
Track
Old Testament
(Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
Exodus 32: 1-14
Isaiah 25: 1-9
Acts 4: 5-12
(First Reading)
Psalm
Psalm 106: 1-6; 19-23
Psalm 23
(this page)
Psalm 23
(this page)
New Testament Reading:
1 John 3: 16-24
Gospel
Matthew 22:1-14
John 10:11-18 
   


Reflections available at the active links
Year B, Proper 11
Year C, Easter 4
 
Semi-Continuous
Track
Gospel Theme
Track
Old Testament
(Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
2 Samuel 7: 1-14a
Jeremiah 23: 1-6
Acts 9: 36-43
(First Reading)
Psalm
Psalm 89: 20-37
Psalm 23
(this page)
Psalm 23
(this page)
New Testament Reading:
Ephesians 2: 11-22
Gospel
   


Reflections available at the active links
Confession of St. Peter
Old Testament
(Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
Acts 4: 8-13
Psalm
Psalm 23
(this page)
New Testament Reading:
1 Peter 5: 1-4
Gospel
Matthew 16: 13-19

  • John Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, resided in Park Rapids, MN, when he originally wrote this reflection in 2002. 
  • Nan Stokes (1929-2010) was an active member of St. Edward's Episcopal Church, Duluth, MN, when she originally wrote this reflection in 1999.

We welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:


MEESC
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.

   

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