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Sunday, April 26, 2020
The King of love my shepherd is,
whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am his
and he is mine forever.
Where streams of living water flow
my ransomed soul he leadeth,
and where the verdant pastures grow,
with food celestial feedeth.
“The King of Love My Shepherd Is” (vv. 1–2) by Henry Williams Baker
Hymn 802, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal
In these times when it feels like the world is so unstable, what does it mean to belong to Christ? Sheltering at home has forced me to think about what I really need and what is enough of anything. Like so many people, I am also experiencing grief for all we have lost—the human contact, the events, gatherings, the normalcy of life as we had been living it. The grief lodges in my chest as a kind of ache. In this context, how can we understand and experience that we belong to Christ?
This hymn is based on Psalm 23, which begins, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” This “shall not” doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t want. It means that if we really experience that we belong to Christ, that “the King of love” shepherds and cares for us, then we won’t feel the need for so many things. Henri Nouwen, in his book A Spirituality of Living, describes a spiritual practice that can help us experience this. He writes that “if we keep saying the truth, the real truth—“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want”—and let that truth descend from our minds into our hearts, gradually those words will be written on the walls of our inner holy place.”
Repeating it on the in-breath and the out-breath is a powerful meditation that can help us experience the truth of this belonging. “The Lord is my shepherd; I belong to him. He belongs to me; there is nothing I need.” In this way, Christ’s love takes the place of other longings I may have clung to.
Dear God, give me strength to be persistent in prayer. Enter my heart and mind, and keep me focused on your love. Fill me to overflowing, so that I may share your love generously with others. Amen.
Written by Nanette Sawyer, Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry
Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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