52 Weeks at the Table – Week 18
Six short verses. Children in Sunday school classes have memorized them for decades. Seekers of God have treasured them for centuries. One shepherd-warrior-king wrote them centuries ago, perhaps to soothe the fevered, restless soul of his master King Saul (1 Samuel 16:23). He wrote and sang words that bring perspective. Words that bring comfort. Words that bring peace.
David writes himself into the role of sheep; compelled to rest in pastoral perfection, refreshed by waters that make no sound. His Shepherd restores his soul; gives him back what the tension and pain of life have taken away. His Shepherd provides without proscribing; guides without goading. He leads along the right path which – even though it may wind through a valley shaded with death-threat – finally leads to … a table.
There the sheep is transformed into a family member; honored in the presence of enemies at this table where there can be no more thirst; where the oil of anointing flows on a head made royal; where blessings of goodness, mercy, love and life never end.
And he is home … home forever.
Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:11-15)
A Prayer Over the Bread
Holy God, we gladly acknowledge that we are the people of your pasture, the flock under Your care. We ashamedly admit that we often wander like sheep, paying no attention to where our noses and appetites are leading us. Thank You for the Good Shepherd, who restores our soul and leads us in paths of righteousness and lays down His life for us. We remember that He did this as our appetites now crave this bread, His body – so we give thanks through His name: Amen.
A Prayer Over the Cup
Righteous King of Heaven, You have prepared this table before us in the presence of our mutual enemies, and anointed us chosen ones, and we have no words or heart sufficient to thank You for this incomparable gift. We can only remember the Price of such a gift as we share this overflowing mercy-cup, His blood. Through the Son Himself we offer these thanksgivings: Amen.