Archive for the ‘Psalm 23’ Tag

Devotion for February 24 in Epiphany/Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   11 comments

Above:  Statue of Reconciliation, Coventry Cathedral, England

Image Source = Rebecca Kennison

Job and John, Part XVI:  Alienation and Reconciliation

FEBRUARY 24, 2020


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Job 19:1-12, 21-27

Psalm 110 (Morning)

Psalms 66 and 23 (Evening)

John 8:1-20


The story of the woman accused of adultery and her near-stoning is one of those pieces of the oral tradition which fits better in some ways in the Synoptic Gospels, where it is not.  Scholars recognize this fact.  Yet I propose that its placement here in John is appropriate theologically.  I cannot attest to the veracity of the chronology.  For that matter, chronology is a matter on which the canonical Gospels disagree.  That fact, however, seems not to have troubled those early Church leaders who approved of the New Testament canon.  And it does not trouble me.  The Gospels are more theological than historical anyway.  And doubts regarding the chronology are irrelevant to my purpose today, for I take the text on its own terms.

As I reread parts of John 7 and 8, I noticed something striking:  Jesus saves the woman’s life at a time when people are plotting to kill him.  That is why the placement of this incident at this juncture in the Johannine Gospel works so well.  As to the woman’s story, I ask one two questions:

  1. Where was the man?
  2. And why did not her accusers care about that detail?

By law he should have faced the same penalty as she would have.  And, given the circumstances, so should have her accusers.  They let the man get away so that they could entrap Jesus.  They did nothing to prevent the act of adultery?  Thus they were complicit  in the offense.  Perhaps Jesus reminded them of this via whatever he wrote on the ground.  And, by the way, the accusers were creepy peeping toms.

I note another fascinating feature of the Johannine material.  There is a contrast between Jesus, the source of living water (7:38) and the light of the world (8:12) on one hand and such bloodlust on the other hand.  His enemies plotted not only to kill him but others–the woman in this account and Lazarus shortly later in the Gospel.  Indeed they lived in darkness–and, to sound like the Gospel of Thomas–they were that darkness.

The thread linking the readings from the Gospel of John and the Book of Job is alienation.  Job was alienated from his friends, his family members, his life, and his God.  Jesus was alienated (not by his choice) from many leaders of his own tradition.  Reconciliation is a mutual state; if only one party is willing but the other is not, there is no reconciliation.  Thus one party can create alienation.  And few activities create this reality more than plotting to deprive someone of his life.  May we be willing to reconcile–to restore wholeness with the other, to restore wholeness where dissonance has arisen.  Dissonance might remain, but may we not be the source of it.

Until the next segment of our journey….









Devotion for January 27 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   9 comments

Above:  The Conversion of St. Paul, by Luca Giordano

Awe, Terror, and Wonder

JANUARY 27, 2023


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Zechariah 4:1-5:11

Psalm 110 (Morning)

Psalms 66 and 23 (Evening)

Romans 15:14-33


Some Related Posts:

A Franciscan Blessing:

Lord, It is Night:

Memories at a Moving Sale for a Friend:



Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit–said the LORD of Hosts.

–Zechariah 4:6c, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures


Come now and see the works of God,

how wonderful he is in his doing toward all people.

–Psalm 66:4, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


O come and see what the Lord has done:

what God has wrought in terror among all people.

–Psalm 66:4, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)


Come and see the works of God,

who is held in awe by men for His acts.

–Psalm 66:5, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures


Come and see the marvels of God,

his awesome deeds for the children of Adam….

–Psalm 66:5, The New Jerusalem Bible


I begin my preparations for each post in this series by reading the assigned lessons.  Usually something–a word, phrase, clause, or sentence–stands out in my mind.  Such was the case with Zechariah 6:4c.  Set in the aftermath of the Babylonian Exile, the rebuilding of the Temple and of Jerusalem seemed unlikely.  In fact, certain people attempted to prevent the reconstruction.  But they failed–not by human efforts alone, although those proved crucial–but more so by the power of God.  There were human instruments of God at work.

Another verse attracted my attention–so much so that I have provided it in four translations.  Psalm 66:4/5 (depending on the versification system) speaks of the awe/wonder/terror of God.  Consider, O reader, these words from Isaac Watts (1705 and 1719) and altered by John Wesley (also in the 1700s):

Before Jehovah’s awful throne,

Ye nations, bow with sacred joy;

Know that the Lord is God alone,

He can create, and He destroy;

He can create, and He destroy.

The Hymnal (1933), of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (1869-1958)

Word meanings change over time.  “Awful” means “extremely bad” to most English speakers today.  Yet its original definition was “awe-inspiring,” a word which the Encarta World English Dictionary defines as

impressive as to make a person feel humble or slightly afraid.

Likewise,  “terrible” has a variety of meanings, most of them negative.  “Very serious or severe” is one of those.  Yet the word can also mean “formidable.”  The Old French root for “terrible” derives from the Latin verb meaning “to frighten.”

Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, had a frightening–terrible, by one definition–encounter with God.  And he succeeded in his mission by divine aid, overcoming the forces of might and power arrayed against him.  The word “awesome” has become trite in my North American culture.  Yet I use that word in its most profound sense here:  The works of God are awesome.  They are formidable.  They are awe-inspiring.  They are wonderful.

I have witnesses that power and those works in the lives of others as well as in my life.  As I type these words I am watching that power from a distance as it works in the life of one for whom I care very much.  I am glad to say honestly that I was an instrument of that power in a particular way at a certain time.  And I might be such an instrument in her life again.  One lesson I have learned is that hope is always alive in God.









Week of 4 Epiphany: Saturday, Year 1   16 comments

Above:  Logo of the Moravian Church

Jesus:  Shepherd and Lamb

FEBRUARY 4, 2023


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Hebrews 13:9-25 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

Do not be led astray by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents.  We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.  For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought for sin are burned outside the camp.  So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.  Therefore let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing abuse for him.  For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come.  Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.  Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account.  Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for what would be of no advantage to you.

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.  I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.

I appeal to you, brethren, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.  You should understand that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon.  Greet all your leaders and all the saints.  Those who come from Italy send you greetings.  Grace be with all of you.  Amen.

Psalm 23 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 The LORD is my shepherd;

I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie in green pastures

and leads me beside still waters.

3 He revives my soul

and guides me along right pathways for his Name’s sake.

4 Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I shall fear no evil;

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me;

you have anointed my head with oil,

and my cup is running over.

6 Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Mark 6:30-34 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.  And he said to them,

Come away by yourselves to a quiet place, and rest a while.

For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.  And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves.  Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them.  As he landed he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.


The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


A shepherd is  a shepherd only if there are sheep to guard and lead.

The imagery of sheep and shepherds runs throughout the Old and New Testaments.  Various groups of people–royal subjects, people in front of Jesus, et cetera–filled the role of sheep, depending on the text in question.  Depending on the passage of Scripture one considers, the shepherd was God, a king, or Jesus.  And some shepherds neglected their flocks.  Jesus, we read, is the Good Shepherd.  And he is, indeed.

We, as sheep, need a shepherd to protect us from ourselves, for we want to wander off to dangerous places.  Despite what we like to think about ourselves, we are not always the brightest crayons in the box.  Dealing with this issue effectively begins with recognizing the truth about ourselves and how much we need God, specifically in the form of Jesus.  May we acknowledge our shepherd and follow his lead.

Yet Jesus is also the victorious and worthy sacrificial lamb.  Members of the Church Triumphant wash their robes in his blood, and their robes become white. This poetic image communicates a great truth regarding atonement.  So, as the logo of the Moravian Church encourages us, may we follow the lamb.  Considering what he sacrificed and why he did it, we should reciprocate in love, devotion, and gratitude.


Written on June 20, 2010

Fourth Day of Advent   12 comments

Above:  Loaves and Fishes Floor Mosaic, Church of the Multiplication, Tabgha, Israel

Divine Abundance



Isaiah 25:6-9 (Revised English Bible):

On this mountain the LORD of Hosts will prepare

a banquet of rich fare for all the peoples,

a banquet of wines well matured,

richest fare and well-matured wines strained clear.

On this mountain the LORD will destroy

that veil shrouding all the peoples,

the pall thrown over all the nations.

He will destroy death for ever.

Then the LORD God will wipe away the tears

from every face,

and throughout the world

remove the indignities from his people.

The LORD has spoken.

On that day the people will say:

See, this is our God;

we have waited for him and he will deliver us.

This is the LORD for whom we have waited;

let us rejoice and exult in his deliverance.

Psalm 23 (Revised English Bible):

The LORD is my shepherd; I lack for nothing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me to water where I may rest;

he revives my spirit;

for his name’s sake he guides me to the right paths.

Even were I to walk through a valley of deepest darkness

I should fear no harm, for you are with me;

your shepherd’s staff and crook afford me comfort.

You spread a table for me in the presence of my enemies;

you have richly anointed me head with oil,

and my cup brims over.

Goodness and love unfailing will follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD

throughout the years to come.

Matthew 15:29-39 (Revised English Bible):

After leaving that region Jesus took the road by the sea of Galilee, where he climbed a hill and sat down.  Crowds flocked to him, bringing with them the lame, blind, dumb, and crippled, and many other sufferers; they put them down at his feet, and he healed them.  Great was the amazement of the people when they saw the dumb speaking, the crippled made strong, the lame walking, and the blind with their sight restored; and they gave praise to the God of Israel.

Jesus called out his disciples and said to them,

My heart goes out to these people; they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.  I do not want to send them away hungry; they might faint on the way.

The disciples replied,

Where in this remote place can we find bread enough to feed such a crowd?

Jesus asked,

How many loaves have you?

They replied,

Seven, and a few small fish.

So he ordered the people to sit down on the ground; then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and after giving thanks to God he broke them and gave them to his disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.  They ate it and were satisfied; and seven baskets were filled with what was left over.  Those who were fed numbered four thousand men, not counting women and children.  After dismissing the crowd, he got into a boat and went to the neighbourhood of Magadan.

The Collect:

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Most of us have experienced periods of anxiety.  We have had certain needs–not mere desires, but necessities–and have been uncertain about how we will obtain them.  Such has been my reality.  Yet, as I reflect on the past and present, I know that I have never gone to bed hungry, never been homeless, and have always had everything I have needed.  I recall once, when in junior high school, my parents went through a phase during which they tried a diet with a great amount of chicken meat in it.  For as long as they were on that diet I was on that diet.  I came to despise chicken, and shunned it for a while after the diet ceased, but at least I ate until I was full.  So I had what I needed, even if I did not like my limited options.

Sometimes we need to play a part in helping to fulfill our needs.  Depending on our circumstances, we might need to apply for employment, tell others our problems, and lay aside false and culturally conditioned pride.  Our friends and neighbors, as capable as they might be, are probably not telepathic.  We might not have because we have not asked, or maybe we asked for the wrong thing or in the wrong way or for the wrong reason.

I reject Prosperity Theology, which the examples of Jesus and his surviving Apostles refute.  Yet I believe in the abundance of God, who transform little into more than enough.  In God we have more than we need, but not necessarily all that we want.  This is fine, for often what we want is destructive at worst or merely unnecessary at best.  It is better to have what we need, to recognize this reality, and to thank God for it.


Written on May 31, 2010