A Call to Worship:
God, sometimes the days are long, and the nights are even longer. Sometimes the valley is dark, and the shadows are heavy and we're afraid. There are times when it seems we're up against the world. And in all those moments we remember and prayerfully say:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name's sake. 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 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. — Psalm 23
Psalm 23 is the chosen Psalm for the Fourth Sunday in Lent. I could not have chosen a better one for this particular week when we are being warned and instructed in appropriate terms about the hazards and dangers of COVID-19. These warnings and regulations are often presented in negative terms and we certainly need to know the reality and truth of these uncertain times.
Psalm 23 provides some positive reinforcement for these days when it seems we may be in a dark valley; we long for quiet waters and the restoration of sanity. The words of the psalm remind us that God provides what we need to rest securely and comfortably and gives us refreshment for our worried minds, our physical concerns and our sagging spirits. Even when we are called to walk in unknown territory, among people who may be untrustworthy, God's presence, God's guidance is with us and gives us strength and courage. God cares so much for each of us that God sets a protected table for us that provides us with nourishment for mind, body and spirit. God anoints us, touches us with soothing balm, oil, in the ancient tradition. We are encouraged, renewed and become resilient. And finally, God never leaves us alone to confront life or COVID-19 or anything else in all of creation. In fact, we cannot escape God's goodness and mercy. We have more mercy available to us than we will ever call upon. Even in these weeks of isolation and separation from our church family, when we are away from our house of worship, we are one in the Spirit that binds us. We are one in the Body of Christ. We shall remain a family of faith wherever we may be found. As Paul writes to the church of believers in Rome, nothing, no thing, not even COVID-19 can ever separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. (Romans 8.37-39)
This week try reading Psalm Twenty-Three every day. Place yourself, your body, your soul into the verses. See yourself resting, secure in God's abundant mercy and security. Ask God to provide what we all need in the days ahead, faith, hope and love in abundance.
Let us pray:
We thank you, loving God, for each new day, a day closer to resuming our lives as we choose to live them. As we walk with you in this time may we seek your will, your companionship, your holy healing. Jesus, as our shepherd, keep us beside still waters and restore us day by day. We pray safety and health for our families, our Spring Creek Family, the medical community, first responders, our Rockford community and the world beyond. All these are our sisters, and all are our brothers. Bind us all together in your love. Amen.
The Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. — taken from Genesis 31.49 KJV
Additional Readings for the Fourth Sunday in Lent:
I Samuel 16.1-13 Ephesians 5.8-14 John 9.1-41
An Update on our friend Annika:
She is on dialysis recovering slowly following kidney failure. Tests remain inconclusive, transplant may be necessary. Please keep our sweet girl in your prayers and remember her family in what must be very long days for all of them. Cards are appreciated! American Family Children's Hospital, 1675 Highland Ave., Madison WI 53792
In weeks to come we will share prayer requests that are communicated to the church office.
With a dedicated group of volunteers, we hope to record or possibly live stream the worship service for upcoming Sundays. Please stay connected to our website for information and changes.