prepared by Rev. M. Gayle MacDonald
23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Most Holy and Tender-hearted God, how good and loving a shepherd you are. We give you thanks for your presence, your caring, your guidance and your protection. We give you thanks for all those who through the ages have imitated your ways and been shepherd to us--watching over us with tenderness and mercy.
23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; 23:3 he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.
We give you thanks that we have come to this time and place. We give you thanks for all those things in our lives which nourish us--for food, clothing and shelter; for the love of family and friends; for the caring of neighbours; for the community who worships in faith and teaches in love.
Lead us, O God, each and every one to a place where we can hear your voice more clearly. Help us to lay aside that which makes us anxious, that which keeps our every thought and action from you. Restore our souls, filling them with love and inspiration that we may have the right will and the required energy to care for others as you care for us.
Guard our footsteps. Help us to chose the right action--to refrain from unkind words and selfish acts--to be willing to help others, to look with kindness on them, to chose words which make people feel wanted and needed and loved that when they look at us and see us, they may know that we are Yours. May our words and actions “do you proud”.
23:4 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.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, the valley of the shadow of death--May we be reminded, Lord, that a shadow is just a shadow and cannot harm us; and that darkness is just darkness and cannot harm us. It is what we fear that keeps us from moving forward; it is the unknown that keeps us from trying to get through those difficult times. Let us not be paralyzed by fear and anxiousness; and let us not be overcome by grief or loneliness; let us not be lost in uncertainty and confusion; in self-doubt or faith-doubt. Let us not fear all those evils which would keep us from reaching to you, from moving forward into a full and whole life, for you are with us in good times and in bad to protect us and guide us and comfort us.
Today, we ask, Tender Shepherd, your comfort for those who are in the pain; who are sorrowing; who are in need of healing; who are afraid; who are despairing; who are alone. Give them your companionship; show them your love and your hope.
Today, we ask, Tender Shepherd, that you guide us to be shepherds to those who are in pain, who are sorrowing; who need healing; who are afraid; who are despairing; who are alone.
23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Teach us to prepare the table of love, a feast of fellowship in the presence of those things which would overcome us and keep us from joying in your presence.
You annoint us with the rich fragrance of your everlasting presence; you annoint us with your tenderness. You bless us and our souls are refreshed, our energy returns, our inner wounds are healed. May your caring fill our hearts to overflowing. And as the love and mercy fills our lives with joy and purpose, may we pour what we have been given out for others--that they too may come to healing and wholeness.
23:6 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.
O Lord, may we, each of us, have the wisdom to follow your voice--to allow ourselves to be cared for and guided by you that we may live in your presence and by your love forever.
This we pray in the name of the Good Shepherd who taught us this prayer: Our Father . . .
Admaston Pastoral Charge - United Church of Canada: