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Psalm 23
The Lord is my Shepherd
~
God Prepares A Table Before Me,
Provisions In The Midst Of Attack
From My Enemies




Psalm 23 


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You Prepare A Table Before Me,
Provisions In The Midst Of Attack
From My Enemies 


1.  When Holy Communion, and God's table for two, overlap

2.  God knows all about us - and invites us anyway !

3.  God's invitation to his table for two



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When Holy Communion,
And A Table For Two, Overlap

Read : Psalm 23 

You Prepare A Table Before Me, Provisions In The Midst Of Attack From My Enemies

There are many meals mentioned in the Bible. Most are wedding banquets, feasts - huge occasions, attended by many people. This is more unusual - a table for two, reserved by God for his specially invited guest.  

In Holy Week, descriptions of tables and meals naturally remind us of the Last Supper. We remember that meal whenever we share Holy Communion. God meets with us as we worship together. He nourishes us with himself, his word, his presence. Strengthening us for our journey. Reminding us of his constant love for us, his presence with us.  

Today we could reflect on God's invitation to a table for two, or the Last Supper, or Holy Communion, but instead, I'll you a story . . .  

She was sitting, crying, in a corner of a quiet chapel in the cathedral. She'd been there before. It was always empty, peaceful. No-one ever around to disturb her. She felt safe there. 

By the time she'd escaped her abusive marriage, she felt there was nothing of her left. Told herself she'd got out before having a complete breakdown. Was too scared to admit, even to herself, she might be wrong.  

She was divorced now, with a new job, living in a new country, where she knew only her few work colleagues. But despite the new start, she remained lost in the deep darkness of depression and anxiety, that wrapped themselves so tightly around her, they seemed to choke her. 

Most days, she held the pieces of herself together. Just. But on bad days, she feared she would shatter into thousands of pieces, impossible to reassemble. On bad days, she ached to scream out her pain, but knew if she started, she wouldn't be able to stop. 

And then there were the dreadful days. Those days, she'd find a quiet corner in a church somewhere. That was why she was in the chapel today, trying to cry silently. Terrified if she made a sound, someone might notice her, or speak to her. Knew she couldn't cope if they did.  

She believed God existed - somewhere - he just wasn't relevant to her. She didn't go into churches to pray, didn't know how to, couldn't have expressed how she felt anyway. She simply knew churches felt safe, comforting. Knew it was the only place she could she cry herself out, and find some temporary peace.  

That day, she'd been sitting there a long time, when a voice disturbed her. One of the cathedral clergy was starting a Communion service in the chapel. That had never happened before. She was devastated not to have heard him enter, would have left immediately if she had.  

Looking around slightly, she discovered she was the only other person there. Panic flooded through her. What was worse - to leave now, drawing unwanted attention to herself, or try to sit it out ? She sat, immobilised by fear, but desperate for any distraction to let her escape. Nothing happened. She was trapped. 

presence
(Detail from 'The Presence'
by Capt. A E Borthwick)

Gradually, she started to hear some of what the cleric said. At first, it was just words, familiar from childhood, but not heard since. Gradually though, it was as if God was speaking through the words. Except that, she was the only one there. Surely God wouldn't be speaking to her? 

But she started paying a bit more attention, and heard of God's love for her. That God loved her so much, he died for her. Loved her so much he came looking for her.  

On her worst day - in her darkest place, feeling utterly alone, fighting against everything trying to destroy her - God stepped into her day. Told her he wanted to help her, be with her, comfort her, give her peace. But above all, God wanted her to know how much he loved her.  

At the end of the service, the cleric left, without attempting to speak to her, and she was alone again. Such an odd experience - she half wondered if she'd imagined it. Knew at once she couldn't dismiss it that easily. Knew God had come looking for her.  

It seemed unbelievable - God loved her. Knew her pain. Cared about her. Was with her. Wanted to help her. Had helped her. Would help her.  

She hadn't gone there to pray. Didn't know how to. Yet somehow, her pain and tears were a prayer that God heard, and understood, and answered. That day, she left deeply comforted and at peace.  

Although I would love to tell that day was the last time she needed to go there, it wasn't. But that day, God took her in hand, started the long, slow healing process. Started putting her pieces back together.  

That day, God started teaching her about himself. That day - one of her very worst days - she learnt God loved her. That day, she accepted God's invitation, and his offer of help. 

God prepares a table before me, provisions in the midst of attack from my enemies.  

God prepares a table before you, provisions in the midst of attack from your enemies.  

Ruth Gillett, 2014

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God Knows All About Us - And Invites Us Anyway !

Read : Psalm 23 

You Prepare A Table Before Me, Provisions In The Midst Of Attack From My Enemies

There are many meals mentioned in the Bible. Most are wedding banquets or feasts, huge occasions, attended by many people. This is more unusual - a table for two, reserved for God and his specially invited guest.  

The best things about special meals, besides the food, is sharing them with someone special, good conversation, and someone else doing the cooking ! 

Here, the Psalmist marvels at the opportunity to spend time with God. All the Psalmist has to do is turn up, because God has done all the preparation !  

And God offers us that same opportunity ! Does spending time with God sound like an impossible dream in this life ? . . .and yet that's exactly what prayer can be - what prayer should be - it is spending quality time with God.  

Although we often join with others in prayer, we also need to spend time in prayer alone with God. God wants us to talk to him about anything and everything. Ask for his guidance. Ask for his provisions for whatever we face in life. But since no conversation should be a monologue, we must also remember to take time to listen for God's replies, his guidance, his advice. 

How much 'quality time' do you spend alone with God ? 

How much time do you spend simply listening for God's voice ? 

Is it possible you need to talk less and listen more ? 

In Holy Week, descriptions of tables and meals naturally remind us of the Last Supper. We remember that meal, when we share Holy Communion.  

Jesus was the host at this, his last Passover meal, and he invited his friends and followers to join him.  

Jesus invited Judas - knowing he would accept a bribe to betray him.  

Jesus invited Peter - knowing he would vehemently deny ever even knowing him. 

Jesus invited them all - knowing they would abandon him.  

invite

Jesus invited them, not because they were special, or heroic, or deserved to be there. He knew his followers were all flawed, imperfect, weak - because they were normal people - just like us. Jesus invited them, simply because he loved them and wanted to spend time with them.  

When we meet together for Holy Communion, Jesus extends his invitation to us. He invites us - not because we are special. He invites us - not because of anything we have done, or will do. He invites us simply because he loves us. We have all sinned, are flawed, imperfect, weak - but God still loves us.  

Thomas Cranmer's 'Prayer of Humble Access' (which forms part of service of Holy Communion), express this concept succinctly but beautifully : 

We do not presume to come to this your table, merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table. But you are the same Lord, whose nature it is always to have mercy . . .

We can accept the invitation because God loves us. Loves us so much, that Jesus has taken our place, our punishment, dying for our sins instead of us. 

Can you imagine loving anyone enough to die for them ? 

Can you imagine dying for someone who doesn't know you ? 

Can you imagine dying for someone who repeatedly hurts you ? 

Give thanks to God for his amazing love for you ! 

Prayer : 

Jesus, friend of sinners, thank you for welcoming me to the Father just as I am. I am so glad to know my salvation does not hinge on my efforts, or on my ability to make restitution for all I have done wrong. Thank you that all I have to do, is be willing to be found by you, and to accept your invitation. Amen

Ruth Gillett, 2014

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God's Invitation To A Table For Two

Read : Psalm 23 

You Prepare A Table Before Me, Provisions In The Midst Of Attack From My Enemies

This is not a sandwich lunch, eaten on the run, while doing three other things. 

This is not cobbled together leftovers, eaten from a tray, in front of the TV. 

This is not a snooty restaurant, with haughty waiters, a foreign language menu.  

The table was specially prepared. Time and care spent on it. An act of love. 

The food was specially prepared. Time and care spent on it. An act of love. 

This is fine dining - just for you. Where everything is prepared by the one who knows you best, and loves you most. Prepared by the one who longs to show you their love, and to spend time - quality one to one time - alone, with you. 

table

This table, these provisions, all prepared by God, just for the two of you. 

The Psalmist had physical enemies, trying to hurt or kill him. Can you imagine taking time out, being relaxed enough to enjoy a meal, while your enemies surround or attack you ?  

Is God's message here "don't be afraid" or "even if you're afraid, don't let it paralyse you" or "I am with you always" . . .or maybe it's all three ?  

God comes looking for us. Meets us where we are. Wherever we are. God does all the preparation, all the hard work. Makes it easy for us. Simply invites us to join him.  

We need to accept God's invitation, then trust him to know what's best for us. 

God invites everyone - but forces no-one to accept. 

God invites everyone - are you among someone else's enemies ? 

Imagine sitting at the table with God. What would that be like ? 

What would you say ? What would God say ? 


Ruth Gillett, 2014

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