It is the season of the Spirit. Totally dependable and utterly unpredictable, gentle and wild, challenging and comforting-this Spirit cannot be described or contained. It blows where it will, taking us along on the journey.
This is a wild Pentecost ride, to which we are all invited. Hold on to your seats-and each other. And discover that God can be found in faint whisper or fury of fire.
May 7: I Shall Not Want
Psalm 23, Acts 9:36-43, Revelation 7:9-17, John 10:22-30
Like many of us, I imagine, I memorized the 23rd Psalm as a child. When I was given the opportunity in Sunday school on my sixth birthday to choose a picture as a gift, I didn't hesitate. From among such familiar images as Jesus knocking on the door and welcoming children to his side, I picked Jesus holding the lost lamb.
Montessori-based religious education centers on this Jesus. Educators have discovered that a shepherd is a most comforting image for children.
But there was always one point of confusion for me as a child. In my recitations, I ran the lines of the first verse of the psalm together: "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want." I always wondered why I shouldn't want this shepherd, especially since he was supposed to be taking such good care of me.
On the path of my faith journey since those days, I sometimes remember my early confusion and smile. Indeed, there have been days when this Jesus has been a shepherd I would rather not follow. I know his voice; but sometimes his call feels like much more than I ever bargained for.
It is impossible to follow this shepherd without walking into pain-one's own as well as that of the world. It is impossible to follow without understanding the cross and the commandment to pour ourselves out for enemy and friend.