What better offering than Psalm 23 as our communities shut down in the face of the global pandemic?
Even though I walk in the shadow of the valley of death, I shall fear no evil. For you are with me.
So read, enjoy, sing, meditate upon this great song. Needless to say, there are hundreds of settings of this favourite. For a quick snapshot of just a few, read the last blog post on this psalm, noting that there are another seven earlier posts in these pages alone (see Index) and many more settings than those mentioned therein.
What shall we sing? Something we can do when socially distanced, of course. I had hoped to bring to our worship at South Woden a version of Paul Kelly’s Meet me in the middle of the air, in a reprise by one of our favourite young women singers. Regrettably, like so many activities, that is now suspended. Well, perhaps you will have to sing along with Paul here>
But what’s this ‘meet me in the air’ bit? That’s not part of the Shepherd Psalm. It’s actually a quote from I Thessalonians 4:17:
Then we … will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.
An odd pluck, one might think, to add to Psalm 23, but somehow it works. This text seems to be talking of the end times. However, I am reminded of comments made recently by Rev Andrew Smith at a gathering in Canberra. He quotes Professor Tom Wright, a devotee of the psalms and thus oft quoted in these pages, as looking for continuity between old and new testaments, seeking new interpretations of heaven and earth, thinking in terms of God’s space and ours, imagining how these spaces might interact and merge.
Andrew thus speculates on the idea of being born again (John 3) as a spiritual rapprochement of our earthly world and consciousness with that of a timeless, omniscient, wise and gracious divinity.
Paul Kelly tossed in the line about meeting in the air unburdened by the weight of such deliberations. It was just a familiar riff from spirituals. But yes, it works both musically and in the light of Wright’s grand view.
Be the waters still or troubled, greater confluence between our space and the Shepherd’s has the potential to bring insight, grace and understanding in times of stress. Such a peace is much needed in these days.
Oh, and so is a good sense of humour…