April 2020 we will remember as our first month of isolation, lock down, social distancing, however we describe it. We move into May knowing that there is a long way to go, that our actions have been effective to a high degree, our health services are holding out, and that workers in all services are keeping going through difficulties and distress. None the less, we are daily saddened for the families and friends of all those who have succumbed to the virus, whose lives have been shortened by this illness which still threatens us.
However, we have our faith, we have a relationship with the God who is over all things, We have a trust in our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and we have the comfort and assurance of the Holy Spirit in us – breathed into us as the gift from Jesus to His followers. So we are not abandoned or forgotten, and we can lift our prayers to God our Father for all those who we know – in distress, in sorrow, in exhaustion as they work to care for others, and we can give thanks for our comfort and safety as we live within this locked down world.
The psalm this week is Psalm 23, a Psalm well known and often sung in times of sombre reflection. As with many things, it can be so familiar that we skim over and miss the depth of comfort and meaning which is in these well known words.
In the hymn book there is an arrangement of this Psalm by the French priest, Joseph Gelineau, and I give this here to read through with fresh eyes and heart, to appreciate once more the peace, comfort, protectionand goodness from God which this psalm celebrates:
The Lord is my shepherd;
There is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
Where He gives me repose.
Near restful waters He leads me,
To revive my drooping spirit.
He guides me along the right path;
He is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness
No evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and staff,
With those who give me comfort.
You have prepared a banquet for me
In the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
My cup is over flowing.
Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
All the days of my life.
In the Lord’s house shall I dwell
For ever and ever.
To the Father and Son give glory,
Give glory to the Spirit
To God who is, who was, and who will be
For ever and ever.
Joseph Gelineau , 31 October 1920 – 8 August 2008) was a French Catholic Jesuit priest and composer, mainly of modern Christian liturgical music. Heavily influenced by Gregorian chant, he developed his Gelineau psalmody which is used worldwide. Later he composed numerous chants for the ecumenical French Taizé Community. (Wikipedia)
Gelineau’s translation and musical settings of the psalms have achieved nearly universal usage in the Christian church of the Western world. These psalms faithfully recapture the Hebrew poetic structure and images. (Joseph Gelineau Biography,GIA Publications,)
Here is a message about work with young people which is going on across Argyll Presbytery:
If you have parents or grandparents of young people of secondary age that you are able to contact then please encourage them to get their children to log onto the eXp Facebook page for more information about the plethora of activities that Susan and her team have arranged. (Susan Whyte, Presbytery Youth Worker)
From: Susan Whyte [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 29 April 2020 10:08
Good morning everyone,
Week 6 of lock down…. most of the worlds focus is on the problem – covid19 and what it is doing to individuals, families, communities, countries, our world and our economy. Everyday I am challenged – do I join the world and focus on the problems of life? This would be an easy thing to do as I am hearing about it in every news report,I am reminded of it every time I talk to a loved one on a flat screen or when I hear the voice of one of our young people or a leader who is struggling with the impact of social isolation. What other choice to I have? The answer….Instead of focusing on the problem, focus on the Problems Solver! The minute you read that, you will know who I mean – yep, Father God. Every day life problems can serve to keep our eyes of the ‘author and finisher’ of our faith. It is a challenge, but our focus should be on God. At times like this we have to admit that our faith perhaps doesn’t measure up to what we would like it to be. Let’s not measure our faith but measure our God! How big is the God you serve? My God? Well, He is a great big God!
Argyll Presbytery Youth Worker & Team Lead | eXp Youth Work
m: 07470 593935
130 John Street, Dunoon Argyll, PA23 7BN