Summary: This is a funeral/memorial meditation for the memorial service of a man who died after a life of struggle.
Memorial Meditation – October 17, 2009 - Psalm 23
I love this passage of Scripture because it speaks of life’s most important and most intimate relationship, that of humanity, of you and me, to our Creator.
And rather than use terms like Creator, Almighty One, even the term “God” itself, the psalmist speaks of the Lord as One Who is shepherd to us. The One Who knows us, knows our creatureliness, who knows our most honest needs.
We need to be known, named, and cared for, for that is how and why all our material needs are met. As persons we are given what we need by the One who loves to be our Provider.
Because of the Shepherd in this psalm, because of His character and behaviour, we can have confidence in those needs being met come what may.
And the Shepherd does not set us loose to cope and manage life all on our own, no matter how we may feel at times. The Shepherd leads and directs.
He makes us to lie down in pastures green, He leads us to places of stillness and restores our soul so that we can pause from the madness of life and so that we can reflect and find, in our more thoughtful contemplations, that the Lord is good and His mercies do, indeed, endure forever.
And when we may get lost and lose our way and go in paths of confusion and ‘wrongfulness’, God draws near and redirects us to right paths.
He never stops wooing us with His tender love to rejoin Him on the path that leads to everlasting new days.
He does that because God IS love, God’s character is infused with goodness and kindness and patience. That’s why we receive mercy at His hands.
God is the Creator of all pastures and waters and valleys and tables of blessing. God creates. We know that Stephen also loved to create.
He would sketch wild life, the big cats, eagles…you name it, with charcoal and in pencil drawings. He would create and in those creative moments part of Stephen would touch part of God’s own creative nature.
And perhaps with a belly laugh he would sit back and take humble pleasure in this connection with the Shepherd of all life, the Master of life and the Victor over death.
And confidence in the last line of this psalm, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever”, comes to us through the Master of Life and Victor over Death who was manifest in the flesh in Jesus Christ.
In Him we perhaps more clearly see that God is indeed the Shepherd who comes to His people, who dwells among His own.
And who, like the best of shepherds, does not faint at the prospect of suffering that the sheep might live. In fact in Jesus God embraces human suffering and through that embrace is lead to death, and becomes One who tastes suffering and its worst consequences.
Yet Jesus rose. He rose from the dead and by His risen life you and me and all people have this possibility, this - God’s greatest desire - that by trusting in Him and believing in Him we will forever dwell with him.
This is our hope. This is Steve’s experience, having passed through this vale of suffering, this broken garden of the world, to emerge fresh and whole and truly alive in the garden of God.
So as we mourn and as we try to adjust to the reality of Steve’s passing from this world to the next, let us with gratitude and even a tiny mustard seed of faith, give thanks to the Shepherd whose love and compassion and goodness know no bounds. In Jesus name, amen.