Anna's Hosannas!
Free Worship Resources for Use with the Lectionary
 
Some Thoughts: I was reading some commentary on Psalm 23, which pointed out that the last verse of the psalm ("and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever") implies the communal quality of God's care.  Although many of us have probably heard this as referring to heaven, since the psalm is so often associated with funerals the likely Jewish interpretation is the temple.  So living in the house of God actually implies living among and with God's people.  Suddenly my perspective changes, from an ethereal idea of blissful quiet to a rowdy, sometimes contentious (and never-ending) church board meeting.  What would it be like to live FOREVER with our family of faith?  I guess that depends on how practiced we are at BEING community together.  If we accept that perfection isn't an option for ourselves or for those around us, if we learn to confess, to forgive, to grant grace, then I think it could be pretty great.  But all that takes work - being honest, being vulnerable, being humble.  And it's scary.  Maybe that's why verse 6 describes us as running away from goodness and mercy, it actually being in pursuit of us.  Perhaps we know intuitively that if we are healed and filled with God's mercy we will then be expected to carry that healing into the world.  Maybe we're not sure how well we'll carry that burden, and feel intimidated by it.  This is where I think the challenge of the psalm really surfaces.  Do we really  trust the Shepherd to heal us, to provide for us - and especially to equip us for the difficult, beautiful, transforming promise of living in community together?   

May Theme Song: "You Who Give Us Life"

Call to Worship (adapted from Psalm 23):
L: Because you shepherd me, O God,
P: I have all that I need.
L: When I'm thirsty you lead me in still waters,
P: And when I'm weary to bring me to green pastures.
L:  When I walk through dark valleys, I am unafraid,
P: Because I hear your voice and know you are near.
L: Surely goodness and mercy will chase me all the days of my life,
ALL: And I will dwell in your presence for all time.

Alternate Sung Call-and-Response: "Shepherding God"

Children's Sermon:  "What We Need Most"

Stewardship/Communion Meditation: We come to this table today fresh from the world, a world which tells us we must be in control, take ownership of our lives, craft strategies to achieve our goals.  In this world we understand that our value is based on how self-reliant we are, how little we rely on others for help.  But our understanding shifts when we come onto this holy ground - to a table we didn't set, to a church we didn't build.  Here we remember that we are the sheep in God's pasture.  Our success here is not dependent on how competent we are, but how much we trust and follow the voice of our Shepherd.  Even as we bring our gifts and tithes we aren't offering evidence of our own labor, but evidence for how richly God has blessed us.  And so we share freely, remembering that our Shepherd is wise and caring, and always able to find the green pastures we need to thrive.