During Advent in 2013 we examined Psalm 23 in a sermon series entitled Who’s Your Shepherd? It remains one of my favorite series we’ve done to date. I contended that when we let God be the guide, or shepherd, directing our lives and influencing our decisions, He leads us to green pastures of the “abundant life” and to calm inner waters of the soul.
On the other hand, when we give other things control of our lives, these “idols” or “false shepherds” will ruthlessly drive us and prod us toward barren pastures that cannot satisfy us and toxic waters that poison our souls.
During the final Sunday in the series, I discussed some of the most common false shepherds at work among us. After the sermon I invited people to name their false shepherd by writing it on a scrap of paper and bringing it to the cross during communion.
At the last minute, I also said we would have an open microphone at the front near the cross and if anyone was courageous enough they were welcome to confess their false shepherd aloud. I didn’t really think anyone would feel like getting that honest in front of the entire church.
So, when a line of MainStreeters formed behind the microphone and people started naming their false shepherds out loud and asking God to replace them, it was very moving!
“Money has been my shepherd and it has been leading me to…..”
“Worry has been my shepherd and it has been leading me to….”
“Addiction has been my shepherd and it leads me to….”
And so on. This remains one of my all-time favorite moments at MainStreet, seeing the safe, grace-filled place we have cultivated to make such personal, honest sharing possible.
I also took time to rewrite Psalm 23 several times to reflect the reality when other things take the place of the Good Shepherd. I will share these in the coming posts. May they heighten our awareness of their destructive power and drive us to recommit ourselves to being led by the Good Shepherd alone.