Summary: I have decided that I would change Palm Sunday today to Psalm Sunday and especially during the coronavirus pandemic
05-04-2020 Tilney Vicarage
Although today is PALM Sunday, I would like instead to make it PSALM Sunday.
And in particular Ps 23 Sunday. Why?
Because we are in a time of severe Crisis
People are hurting.
People are afraid.
People’s lives have been turned upside down and shattered.
This crisis moment provides us with the platform to show others, especially unbelievers, that our faith is genuine.
It may be possible to miss the present Christian message of putting our TRUST IN GOD in the ceremony and celebration of our Easter traditions.
Yes we need to follow the good instructions of the Government as Romans 13 reminds us.
St Paul says this
13 1-3 Be a good citizen.
All governments are under God.
Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order.
So live responsibly as a citizen.
If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible.
Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something.
Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.
3-5 Do you want to be on good terms with the government?
Be a responsible citizen and you’ll get on just fine, the government working to your advantage.
But if you’re breaking the rules right and left, watch out.
The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms.
God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it.
That’s why you must live responsibly—not just to avoid punishment but also because it’s the right way to live.
6-7 That’s also why you pay taxes—so that an orderly way of life can be maintained.
Fulfill your obligations as a citizen. Pay your taxes, pay your bills, respect your leaders.
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has sent Maddy a letter telling her that she is at risk and should not go outside the garden. She is classified as at rusk as she had a very successful kidney transplant 2 years ago.
And she is staying at home and not going outside the garden for her walk.
But The Government cannot take away our fear
Only God can do that.
So we can take our fears to God. And cover our own houses with the Blood of Jesus
That is my reasoning for celebrating PSALM Sunday in place of PALM Sunday this year
And in particular we should make it Ps 23 Sunday.
Why, because for me Ps 23 is a tremendous encouragement in this time of Crisis
Story: Some years ago a famous actor was giving an after dinner speech at a black tie event.
He asked his audience if there was any famous poem that they would like him to recite.
There was a silence.
Eventually an old vicar raised his hand and said: "Psalm 23 please."
The actor was a bit nonplussed but agreed, on one condition: that the clergyman should also recite the Psalm after he had finished.
The clergyman reluctantly agreed.
The actor recited the 23rd Psalm and received a tumultuous applause.
The clergyman then recited Psalm 23 and there was not a dry eye in the place.
At the end, the actor stood up and said:
"Do you know the difference between my version of the 23rd Psalm and his?
I know the 23rd psalm but this man knows the Shepherd".
There is so much in Psalm 23 that I could spend even more time on it than I plan to do this morning and still not exhaust it.
This morning I would just like to draw your attention to three aspects of this psalm.
These three H's are:
1. The Haven of God. Ps 23:1-3a
2. The Highway to God Ps. 23:3b-4
3. Happiness with God Ps. 23:5-6
1. Jesus, the Good Shepherd provides a safe haven for us in the storms of the world around us.
Which is particularly apposite in these times of the Coronavirus
2. Jesus, the Good Shepherd shows us the highway to God the Father and
3. Jesus, the Good Shepherd is interested in our happiness.
I would like to make some very brief reflections on each of these.
My first H is Jesus the Good Shepherd is Haven of God - Ps 23:1-3a
Psalm 23 opens with the familiar words:
1.1 "The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want"
So who is our Shepherd?
Jesus said in John 10:11 from our Gospel reading today
"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep."
The Psalm reminds us that when we come to Jesus as our Shepherd, we can trust him totally.