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The offer of still waters - pastoral resources for lockdown

Updated: Nov 5


'He leadeth me beside still waters...'

Anna Chaplaincy Lead for Wales, the Revd Sally Rees, shares what her own pastoral team have used when people are locked down on account of the virus.


'I offered these Daily Resources', she says 'for "my" pastoral team during lockdown, based on Psalm 23:

Verse Psalm 23 v 1

The Lord is MY shepherd, I shall not want.

Thought

As we begin our daily thoughts on this wonderful and familiar psalm, let’s reflect on the reality that Jesus IS OUR personal shepherd. Here in Wales, we are surrounded by sheep that can easily remind us of this. We often see today’s shepherds going to and fro on their quad bikes, with their dogs. However, shepherds in David and Jesus's time were different kinds of shepherds. They didn't only take their sheep to a field, they then stayed with their sheep and would provide for them and protect them. This is what Jesus does for us. He can provide protection and our daily needs so we can be satisfied.

Prayer

Thank you, Jesus, that you are our shepherd, and that you love us care for us

more than we can imagine.

Help us to turn to you today and trust you for our protection and for providing

what we really need.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Hymn: The King of love, verse 1 (Henry William Baker)

The King of Love my shepherd is

Whose goodness faileth never

I nothing lack if I am His

And He is mine for ever.

Verse Psalm 23 v 2a

He makes me lie down in green pastures

He leads me beside quiet waters.

Thought

In our online service a couple of weeks ago, our vicar spoke about the good Shepherd in his sermon. He said that a shepherd in David's and Jesus time would have sought out the green pastures and prepared them ready before he would take his sheep there. Of course, one can't have green pastures without water, so the waters accompany this lovely picture of care and nourishment. Jesus our protector, will keep us in safety. He knows where he is taking us and has gone before us to check on the 'pasture and water' that will provide our food and refreshment

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father

For this wonderful psalm that reminds us of your love and care, we thank you today.

As we think of you as our shepherd,

Help us to trust you to provide all that we need for nourishment and refreshment.

Help us to be open and willing to receive from today and every day,

in this difficult and strange time where everything is uncertain.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Psalm 23 v 2a continued

Hymn I heard the voice of Jesus say (Horatius Bonar) verse 2

I heard the voice of Jesus say

Behold. I freely give

The living water, thirsty one

Stoop down and drink and live

I came to Jesus, and I drank

Of that life-giving stream

My thirst was quenched, my soul revived

And now I live in him

Verse Psalm 23 v 2b

He restores my soul

Thought

Wonderful words - but what do they mean for sheep?

Once the shepherd had taken his sheep to the green pastures, this was the time when the weak sheep could get stronger, those that had been injured could rest, have treatment and get healing. This was the place where the thin sheep could get fat. They would also, perhaps, get to know the shepherd more intimately, and understand more that He was the good shepherd who loves and care for his sheep: They could be restored to wholeness.

The change in the words from he leads 'them' to ‘he’ restores 'my' soul and makes me whole, indicates that this is also a personal message for us as we recognise ourselves as weak, broken, tired and in need of Jesus love and care.

Prayer From the Church in Wales liturgy in this morning's Morning prayer

Compassionate God

as you know each star you have created,

so you know the secrets of every heart;

in your loving mercy bring to your table

all who are fearful and broken,

all who are wounded and needy,

that our hungers may be satisfied

in the city of your peace;

through Christ who is our peace.

Glory to the Father, and to the son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning is now

and shall be for ever. AMEN

Hymn I heard the voice of Jesus say (Horatius Bonar) - verse 1

I heard the voice of Jesus say

Come unto me and rest

Lay down thou weary one, lay down

Thy head upon My breast

I came to Jesus as I was

Weary and worn and sad

I found in Him a resting place

And he has made me glad

Verse Psalm 23 v 3

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name sake

Thought

Being led into green pastures and besides still waters is all about God / Jesus leading us, and in that sense, it is all about Him. It’s all for our good but for his glory. He is the only one who can lead us the right way, who knows what we need, who can provide for us and resource us. We NEED to be led by him.

It reminds of another familiar verse from Psalm 100 v 3

'Know that the Lord is God

It is He who made us

we are his people, the sheep of his pasture'.

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Help us to be open to your leading today, whatever that may be,

Whether for resting and healing, or for listening to and helping others

And may this bring you glory

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Hymn (James Edmeston) verse 1

Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us

through the world's tempestuous sea

guard us, guide us keep us, feed us

for we have no help but thee

yet possessing every blessing

if our God our Father be.

Verse Psalm 23 v 4a

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

I will fear no evil, For YOU ARE with me

Thought

In Jesus' care we are not guaranteed that we will not go through dark times.

What he does promise is that he will walk with us, and keep us moving through these times.

Whatever happens Jesus IS with us and so we do not need to fear evil. It will not overcome us.

Prayer

Thank you, Jesus, that you never abandon us, no matter how dark the times may be

Thank you that you are always with us, even though sometimes we do not feel your presence.

Thank you that you keep us moving through our times of trouble, we do not have to stop and let difficulties overcome us.

In this hard time of lockdown, may we know your presence today,

Comfort, guide and keep us moving with you through this strange time we pray.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Psalm 23 v 4a continued

Hymn (translated by Eleanor Hull)

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart

Naught be all else to me, save that thou art

Thou my best thought, by day or by night

Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light

Verse Psalm 23 v 4 b

Your rod and your staff will comfort me

Thought

You may have heard me say this at a funeral, but these are my thoughts on this sentence. He protects us with his rod – a stick to fend off all danger and his staff which can be totally relied on to find sure ground.

Even in dark times, even in death, God IS WITH US protecting and guiding

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Comfort all those who feel they are in the darkest valleys today.

WE pray especially for the lonely, the sick and those who are near death.

Thank you that you are with us and walk with us, protecting and guiding us.

Even when we cannot feel your presence, we know you are there, and put our trust wholly in your grace and mercy

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Hymn Another verse of the King of Love My shepherd is (Horatius Bonar) verse 4

In deaths dark vale I fear no ill

with thee dear Lord beside me

Thy rod and staff, they comfort still

Thy cross before to guide me

Verse Psalm 23 v 5a

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies

Thought

When these sheep (or we) need to stop to eat

The shepherd provides a table of food.

Note that this is right in the middle of the enemy or danger

The difficulties are still there, but we can trust the shepherd

to provide what we need and look after us while we eat.

I have recently read a book called God among the Ruins: Trust and transformation in difficult times by Mags Duggan (a great book by the way, BRF ). When a student of hers recognised that the author was in difficulties, he did not say anything, but just pressed a small

piece of paper into her hands. The words written on it were

'For this, you have Jesus.' Great observation!

Psalm 23 v 5a continued

Prayer

Help us to trust you today

for all our needs.

Thank you that you are our shepherd, and we are the sheep

of your pasture, and you know what we need and provide

for us and stay with us at all times.

Your grace is sufficient for this day.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Hymn (Charles Hutchinson Gabriel)

All things are ready, come to the feast

Come for the table now is spread

Ye famishing, ye weary, come

And thou shall be richly fed.

Verse Psalm 23 v 5b

You anoint my head with oil and my cup overflows

Thought

Although shepherds did anoint sheep heads with oil (to protect and soothe against parasites that caused discomfort): anointing here is more likely to refer to the human kind. In the context of a meal or feast - distinguished guests would be anointed as they arrived as a sign of honour. In God's kingdom we are all honoured guests at his table. God also lavishes his guests, not with just enough wine (and food) but with the cup continually being filled up to overflowing!!! This is definitely my favourite picture of heaven!

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Thank you that we are all special and favoured in your eyes

Thank you that you provide for all our needs.

Thank you for your love for us which is more than we can imagine.

Help us to be generous hearted to all those in need today.

Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer

Hymn He brought me into his banqueting table (Kevin Prosch)

He brought me into his banqueting table

And his banner over me is love X2

His banner over me is love

I am my beloveds and he is mine X2

And his banner over me is love

Verse Psalm 23 v 6

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I WILL dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Thought

After all the verses about the shepherd’s protection, guidance, and favour, no wonder David concludes this Psalm with ‘surely goodness and love will follow me’: tomorrow, the next day and into eternity. David has been able to look back on God’s love and care over his life and knowing this, he is able to trust God to care for him for whatever comes next in the future; and is convinced that this will be in God’s house. This is our Christian Hope.


Prayer

Thank you, Jesus, for being our heavenly shepherd

Thank you that you laid down your life for us, your sheep

And that we are yours.

Thank you that we are safe in your love and protection.

Thank you that, looking back over our lives we can see

that your hand has been on our lives and that you have been with us.

Help us to trust you for the future.

Thank you for our Christian hope of eternal life, with you, in your house, heaven.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Hymn I think we should finish with ‘The Lord’s my Shepherd’ (W. Whittingham)

all verses. You have got the words!!

I would sing it to the tune of ‘Crimond’, but the choice is up to you.



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