04.23.2021 Pastor's Note | In the Lord's House
1 The LORD is my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
2 He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
3 he keeps me alive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name.
4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger
because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—
they protect me.
5 You set a table for me
right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil;
my cup is so full it spills over!
6 Yes, goodness and faithful love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live in the LORD’s house
as long as I live.
Good Day Family,
In the Lord’s House
Psalm 23 is one of the most well known scriptures in the Bible. It is often used in movies and literature and shows up in popular culture in countless ways. The words of strength and encouragement inspire and motivate us to trust in the God who can do all these things. And, the point of the passage is that it is God who does it. The only thing the Psalmist declares as an action is abiding with God. “I will live in the Lord’s house as long as I live.” This is an interesting statement given that the writer, David, was talking about his own life as a shepherd, as one who lived in the open, the wild, and the wilderness in order to provide for the sheep under his care.
David learned the lessons of caring, protecting, and leading a nation when he did the same for the sheep. In the uncertainty of moving the flock from one place to another, he learned how to keep them together. In the real danger of leading them through the valley, he gained courage and strength to fight off wild animals and calm their concerns.
I am sure that David lost some sheep. He made mistakes, he learned, and he grew more from the failures than the successes. In the midst of reflecting upon that life, he realized that what he had done for the sheep, his God did for him. Hence, the Lord is the one who protected him as he protected them. The Lord is the one who provided for him as he provided for them. The Lord blessed and kept him through it all. David learned to trust in that, but he also learned to rest in that. Living in the Lord’s house means living under God’s guidance, provision, and will. It’s not restricted to a singular place. After all, as the psalmist also reminds us, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof….”
During this last year of living in the midst of pandemic, many of us have been reminded the Lord is our shepherd—the one who has protected and provided, shielded and sheltered, encouraged and engaged us through the valleys. For a year, I have had a footnote in the note that declared that we are the church. The church never closed. We’ve gathered and sheltered in the Lord’s house all this time…in presence or in spirit. Because our homes are also sanctuaries, because our safety comes from God and God goes with us.
On Pentecost Sunday, May 23, 2021, we will offer in-person worship in the sanctuary again. This is a cause of celebration. We can give glory to God for keeping us. I thank God for the faithfulness of this congregation. I know it hasn’t been easy. It’s been challenging for all of us in different ways. Yet, God makes a way. Worship will not be the same. Congregational singing is still not encouraged, but we will have musical selections. We will have a floorplan for physical distancing, masks are required, and any fellowship will have to take place outside after the worship service. We will modify the way we handle prayer time, the offering, and communion, but we will preserve the meaning.
There will be those who will want to continue to worship at home. We’ve acquired equipment to continue online worship (through a generous grant from our association). We will intentionally connect the congregation worshipping at home with the congregation worshipping in person as one community. Because, we are the church, and we’re moving into the next normal…together.
From the Lord’s house,
We are the church and as we gather, in whatever form that may be, to worship, fellowship and serve, the church is alive and well.
Let us encourage one another. Remain safe and check in on one another. We will get through this, and when we do…and look back on the other side…we will be stronger, more grateful, and more connected than ever.