I know that we are most accustomed to reading this or hearing this with the ending ‘forever.’ This week I want to focus on the other possible ending which you read above, for it reminds us that the 23rd Psalm is not the promise of individual destiny in ‘heaven’ if we believe. Instead, it teaches us what the life that God created us for and called us to looks like. The house of the Lord, the comfort, empowerment and peace of the house of the Lord is not just something that happens after we die. It can be experienced (in part I admit) in this life when we risk the path described in this Psalm.
This sunday we will explore the ‘good life’ as defined by American culture and how this contrasts with the ‘full life’ that is described in Psalm 23.
Psalm 23 redefines some things. First it redefines how we describe life. God has not called us to a ‘good’ life so to speak, if that is defined, which I believe it is, as immediate satisfaction, buying whatever our hearts desire (whether we can afford it or not), doing what we want, and enjoying ease and luxury. (Even as I write that it does have a tempting pull!) But that is not what God has created us for, because a life of ease, luxury, opulence, always costs someone else. It is a passive form of aggression and oppression visited upon those who created the stuff we want and do the labor that makes our profits.
No, we are not created for ‘the good life.’ We are created for ‘a life of good,’ or ‘a full life,’ as defined by the 23rd Psalm. Ultimately, this Psalm promises, the life lived as a journey on the path to justice, even though it enters dark valleys, is a full life, a life of good, the life we were created to live, and it will result in an everlasting, resurrected life of fulfillment.
This sunday, these ideas are all illustrated in the sharing of communion, at which Christ is present, gifts are shared, reconciliation and forgiveness are practiced, all creation is anointed, including those who gather, the hungry are fed, the wealthy offer service to the poor and all are valued and honored.