Walking beside still waters in the shadow of death

This Sunday, we will pray Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters. He revives my soul.

He revives my soul.

We will also read from the Gospel according to John. It won’t sound quite like this; this is the translation called The Message, by Eugene Peterson:

My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good.

I give them real and eternal life.

They are protected from the Destroyer for good.

Real life is eternal. It is lived in the here and now, and its echoes reach the alpha and the omega, the lengths and breadths of all that is; it is eternal, and it is known to the Eternal One.

Real life suffers death. It is not protected from dying, but it is protected from destruction. It is protected in death, so that it is not destroyed but lives eternally. It is a dilemma, a paradox. Paradoxes are not always helpful in the midst of fear and grief.

Love may be a little more helpful. The love which poured itself out in donations of blood in Boston, which ran towards the wounded, without a care for the danger still waiting to explode upon it. The love which fuels a firefighter protecting a nursing home from a fertilizer fire, which drives into the hot zone with a truck full of wheelchairs and a willing pair of hands. The love which will not let a parent let go of the passion to continue to beat on the hearts and minds of recalcitrant lawmakers to legislate some sanity into our gun ownership laws.

That Love which is stronger than death.

I shall fear no evil.

They are protected from the Destroyer for good.

He revives my soul.

 

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