Present Tense

When was the last time you heard or read the Twenty Third Psalm? I’m going to venture to guess it was at a funeral. It does appear as the optional reading in the lectionary for certain Sundays in years A & B and also every year in the readings for the 4th Sunday of Easter. (My apologies to those of you who do not participate in a Lectionary congregation – I do not intend these words to exclude but to explain.)

Most of us think of the twenty-third Psalm as a funeral psalm. The beautiful setting described brings us comfort as we picture the person who has died being cared for by The Great Shepherd; we consider the dark, shadowed valley to be death, rather than the threat of death in this life. But the reason we read it every year during the season of Easter is because it is a Psalm about Life as God intends it.

Let’s read it together and I invite you, if you are where this is possible, to read it out-loud and let your heart hear the words.

The LORD is my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
he keeps me alive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name.
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.
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!
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.

Psalm 23, Common English Bible

All of the verbs are present tense. Life. Here and now. Walking with God. Following Jesus on a journey of love and grace, even in the difficult steps. We miss out on so much when we relegate our faith to some future time when our physical bodies die, when we seek Tod’s presence only when we are in the shadows. God loves us and desires the best Kingdom life for each of us. Jesus tells us that the Kingdom is here, it is us, living as God’s beloved children on earth.

God wants us to know the beauty of life in God’ presence wherever we are: a meadow or a stream or a beach or lake or your back porch. Walking the “proper path,” following Jesus, is where we live fully as we are created to be.

As you journey through your week, take this Psalm with you, read it as often as you can. Let it shape the way you experience life. Invite someone for coffee or lunch and talk about how the words influence you.

God’s peace be with you, my friends.

3 thoughts on “Present Tense

  1. Thank you for this lovely message. And you are correct. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the 23rd Psalm other than at a funeral. I like the present tense and applying the words to my life today.


    Sent from my iPhone



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