By the Reverend Canon Caleb J. Lee,
President of the Standing Committee for the Diocese of South Carolina
On the Fourth Sunday of Easter, the Church celebrated Good Shepherd Sunday. Outside of the Lord’s Prayer, the 23rd Psalm is perhaps the most commonly used piece of scripture. It is one that when the priest at a graveside funeral begins it, people generally recite it without having to read along.
The imagery that the psalm portrays is one of comfort and protection.
I once spent some intentional time in prayer with the psalm. In that time of prayer, I allowed the images to run through my heart and mind. When the prayer was over, what remained was a simple image of a child walking and holding the finger of a large, gentle, yet strong, hand. In all aspects of my life I would like to think that I am the strong hand. However, the reality of the situation is that I am the child.
In my own memories, as a child, I remember falling on the sidewalk and scraping my knee. My parents would run to pick me up and comfort me, wiping my tears and blowing cool breath on the injury. I remember, as a child being flung on my mother’s hip and carried around. I remember, deep in my bones, the feeling of protection and care that she gave. I remember also, the day she told me I was getting a little too big to be carried. And for me, that was the beginning of the end of an age of innocence. No longer could I be carried or feel protected in that particular way. Instead, I would have to depend on other forms of care and protection provided by my parents.
It is simply part of growing up. But there is something so sweet, so primal about the experience of being cared for like I previously mentioned—being swept up into the arms of a parent and feeling completely safe and loved.
So much so, that you know exactly what I am talking about. Our hearts yearn for that feeling, even in our older age. All of us are, as the Commendation in the BCP says, “sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock.” We yearn to be loved and cared for and flung on the shoulders of a compassionate God.
Grace Church Cathedral has been involved in a mission experience called Glory Ridge for the past five years. Glory Ridge is a place for young people and people young at heart to go and experience God the Good Shepherd. This special place has been a part of my own life and ministry for the past 15 years. One of the youth ministers in the large extended family of Glory Ridge passed away last week. He was a shepherd to a host of young people and left a lasting legacy and imprint on their hearts. His life pointed to the Good Shepherd’s life.
I am reminded of all the many shepherds in my life who worked for the Good Shepherd. The best ones never forgot that they were lambs. Pause for a moment today and give thanks for the shepherds in your life. Don’t forget that you are a shepherd too.
During the uncertain times created by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, leadership of the diocese will send out regular meditations on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays for the next while as we all adjust to a new chapter of living and being the Church.