About 18 months ago, my wife and I adopted a dog who needed a new family to love. Tucker is a 7-year old Collie/Lab mix whose owner had died suddenly, leaving him without a family. Tucker was also born with a condition that rendered him blind from birth. He is a wonderful pet and shows us constant love and affection. He cannot see me, but when he hears my voice, his head sticks up in the air, his tail wags, and he “looks” for me. He knows my voice and it seems to be a source of comfort and joy for him. Tucker knows that he can follow my voice and be greeted and loved once he finds me.
The 23rd Psalm might be the most well-known and loved passage in all of Holy Scripture. It has been a source of joy and comfort for me during times of great anxiety. While it doesn’t mention the voice of the Shepherd, this passage “speaks” to me with the voice of Jesus as the words and rich imagery it describes carries me through whatever worries or cares I might be living with at the time. I hear Jesus talking to me “beside the still waters” and in the “lying in the green pastures”. I know that voice, and it is the voice of “goodness and mercy that follows me all the days of my life”. I hear the voice of Jesus and I know where and to whom I belong. The Good Shepherd promises that no matter what happens here on Earth, I will never be lost “to the House of Lord forever”.
While this Psalm is a source of great comfort in times of worry, it is also a great source of encouragement to us to follow the voice of Jesus wherever it might lead us, even into “the valley of the shadow of death”. Following Jesus’ voice often leads us through places we would not go on our own. But the voice of the Good Shepherd echoes to us a promise that no matter what happens, we know that Jesus laid down his life for his sheep. We may travel blindly following this voice, but in the end, just like my beloved Tucker, we will greeted and loved and welcomed home.
Devotions for Week of April 17, 2016
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Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (GA) in New York City has been chosen as one of eight internship congregations to participate this year in a church-wide initiative designed to increase our understanding of Holy Scripture and most importantly, to cultivate our engagement with it. In partnership with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Vicar John Heidgerd will be working to develop innovative ways to deepen our faith formation and sense of discipleship for the sake of ourselves and our communities.