"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." Psalms 23:4 NRSV
During our Thursday evening service, someone observed that the Twenty-Third Psalm, along with the Lord's Prayer, are two of the Bible passages we learn at an early age. This beautiful psalm is used frequently in our worship services but also at funerals. The pastoral setting of the psalm provokes an image of peace and calm even amidst danger.
Without a doubt 2020 has been a dark valley. We have been faced with a pandemic like none of us has witnessed before. We have been locked down and shut out. We have been kept from our jobs, our loved ones, and our churches. Just as we have a glimpse of returning to a new normal another tragic event happens; the horrific murder of George Floyd, another in a very long sad line of racial injustice. In the time since his death, we have seen riots, Groups misusing this opportunity for self-reflection and change instead to fuel hate, greed, and lawlessness. Yes, we are going through the darkest of valleys. We could easily be discouraged, but as believers, we have hope and inner peace. God, the good shepherd, is watching over his flock and even amidst all the current turmoil, he is with us. He leads us and guides us, he uses his rod and staff to fend away the dangers. We have no reason to fear for in him we find comfort.
God, today we give you our thanks and praise. We acknowledge that you are our good shepherd. At times we may get discouraged and down-hearted, the events of the world seeming to be unbearable. Some times in our own lives our troubles seem so heavy, they are crushing us, and all we can feel is despair. God, even in the darkest of valleys, even in the times we are experiencing now, we have the assurance that you love your flock. You care for us, you protect us, and we can find comfort in you. Amen.