Our reflection this Lord's Day is one of the most beloved psalms in the Bible. The Gospel lesson is the healing story of a man blind since birth.
The lectionary readings for the 4th Sunday of Lent are: 1 Samuel 16:1–13; Ps 23 (UMH 754 or 137); Ephesians 5:8–14; John 9:1–41
Diann Moore Hayes
Lewisburg United Methodist Church
Scripture: Psalm 23
“The Lord is my shepherd, I’ll trust in Him always
He leads me by still waters, I’ll trust in Him always
Always, always, I’ll trust in Him always
Always, always, I’ll trust in Him always”
When I was growing up and going to 4-H camp, we sang this little song as a round. I used to love it when the last group sang the last line alone, “I’ll trust in Him always”. The 23rd Psalm is one we all memorized in Sunday School and I remember how proud I was when my little class in my little church in Meadowdale (near Fairmont) all said it together for a church service and got a little ribbon for our accomplishment. It is the most familiar of all Psalms to me and I can still recite it verbatim at funerals or church services when it is on the program because I learned it as a child.
As I grew and became an adult, the words and meaning of this Psalm has grown in understanding over the years as I have matured and experienced life. When I was in the Holy Lands in October, I learned that there was actually a small church to honor the shepherds of Jesus time. It stands on the outskirts of Jerusalem and has a monument with a fountain, a shepherd’s cave, and a lovely Catholic church with beautiful paintings of the shepherds and the role they played in watching the sheep in the fields and hearing the first news of the birth of the Christ child.
David wrote, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…….He makes me lie down in green pastures, leads me by still waters, and He restoreth my soul…….” What a beautiful analogy to our relationship with our Savior and the role He plays in our lives. The shepherds watched over their flocks of sheep. In Jesus time, the sheep were the entire financial security for the shepherds and their families. Each sheep was profit for their wool, or meat for food for a family. Losing one was a serious deficit on the shepherd’s family budget. The story of the 90 and 9 and searching for the one missing makes us each feel important to our Shepherd who comes to find us when we are lost.
How often we forget that our Shepherd is always there for us, especially in those times when we feel lost. We often need to be reminded to TRUST that the Lord will find us and be there for us and is there when we reach out for Him.
As I sat on the wall next to the statue fountain at the Church of the Good Shepherd that sunny, warm morning on our trip, I reflected on how often I do not trust and try to control a situation myself and feel frustrated and angry trying to solve the annoying crisis or problems that arise in our everyday lives. We really do need to reach out to our Good Shepherd and know that the answers will come and He will eventually lead us back to the flock safely. This leads me to another song and its lyrics-------
“Trust and obey, there is no other way
To be happy in Jesus, we must trust and obey”
During this Lenten season, let us remember to “Trust and Obey” our Shepherd and LET Him watch over us and keep us safe. We are so blessed to know Him and have Him as a part of our lives.
Dr. Timothy Harper
Christ Church United Methodist
Midland South District
As a physician, I've always been keenly interested in the healing ministry of Jesus. As we traveled through the Holy Land, I was drawn to those places where Jesus performed healing.
First, at the ruins of Capernaum, we looked through a glass floor in the church above the ruins of perhaps Peter's mother-in-law's house, where four men lowered a paralyzed man through a hole made in the roof in order to get him to the Lord. (Mark 2: 1 -12). This crippled man in Capernaum- did he have an accident that caused paralysis? Did he have some degenerative neuro-muscular disease? But, whatever the cause, the faith of his friends caused Jesus to forgive him of his sins. And then Jesus told him to pick up his mat and walk.
Secondly, at the ruins of Magdala on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, we encountered a beautiful wall-sized painting of the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years and touched Jesus' cloak and was healed (Mark 5: 25 - 34). This was a very powerful painting and actually was one of the most moving encounters on this journey for me. It really focused my mind on Jesus' healing ministry. Here was a woman with dysfunctional uterine bleeding for twelve years and by her faith and the Lord's power, she was healed. Granted, today, we would treat her with surgery or hormonal manipulation, but her faith healed her.
Thirdly, inside the Lions Gate in Jerusalem, we visited the remnants of the healing pools of Bethesda. In Jesus's day this was known as the Sheep gate. A lame man, on a mat for 38 years, could not get into the waters of the pool. So, Jesus told him to pick up his mat and walk. Jesus used this miracle to teach the Pharisees that God never rests and works on the Sabbath and so must He. (John 5:1-16).
I came to realize, that as a physician, I mostly just manage diseases - rarely curing a disease. But sometimes, through medicines (like antibiotics), or by surgery, we can actually cure a health issue. But, healing is so much more. I came to realize that healing encompasses much, much more. And that Jesus was indeed the Divine Healer.
I realized that the healing ministry of Christ encompasses four main elements. First, it certainly involves healing by Instantaneously curing the disease, or ailment, or physical affliction. Secondly, it involves the healing of the Soul by the forgiveness of sins. Thirdly, Jesus' healing involved teaching - by using it as a tool for instruction and for spreading the word of His message and ministry. Fourthly, his healing creates our own awareness -that by faith all things are indeed possible. So true healing involves: (1) curing, (2) forgiving, (3) teaching, and (4) faith. If we could all strive for these four parameters, we would all indeed be healers.
PRAYER: Our Father, help us this day to think on Jesus' healing ministry. Help us all to become healers to our fellow man whether in medicine, or any field of endeavor, or as we travel along life's journey. Amen.