While we were gathering together this Lenten season, Tess Shearer was making interactive Lenten prayer stations for us that went with the Psalm for each week.
This week, the 4th Sunday in Lent, we have the beloved Psalm 23. And since we will be gathering in new ways - online and in prayer - here is the explanation of the prayer station and ideas to make a station at home!
FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT, MARCH 22...PSALM 23: 5
“YOU PREPARE A TABLE BEFORE ME IN THE PRESENCE OF MY ENEMIES; YOU ANOINT MY HEAD WITH OIL; MY CUP OVERFLOWS.”
This beautiful psalm seems like the perfect balm for troubled souls in light of the events surrounding us at this time. Take some time to read the whole Psalm 23 from your Bible, and let it wash over you and comfort you as you imagine Jesus, our Shepherd, leading you, restoring you, comforting you, preparing a table for you, anointing you with soothing oil.
Some ideas to help you use this Prayer Station at home---adapt as you wish:
1)Choose a spot to set up your prayer station...a small table in a corner of a room, the center of your dining room/kitchen table, a coffee table, a table on your deck or back porch...anywhere you choose.
2) Cover the table with a favorite cloth of your choosing.
3) Possible things to set on your table: a candle or tea light; a glass or cup with juice or wine; a plate with a small loaf/piece of bread; a small glass bowl with some olive or vegetable oil.
4) Meditation on Ps. 23: 5 (said to be a psalm of David, and titled "The Divine Shepherd") (see above): Read this verse several times. What words stand out for you? Picture the shepherd with his sheep---unless the sheep trusted its shepherd, it would not want to stop and eat in the presence of an enemy, right? Perhaps David was envisioning himself being the Lord’s guest at table, with his enemies present as captive guests. God proved over and over that he was watching over David. God watches over us too. God nourishes us, even when we feel like there are “enemies” all around us---when we feel vulnerable---when there is danger nearby (the coronavirus?). We are “fed” by our gracious God so as to have the energy to follow where God is calling us.
ACTIVITY: ANOINTING WITH OIL
Anointing with oil was a symbol of both healing and calling. The shepherd would check the sheep for wounds when leading them back to the sheepfold. He would apply oil to any abrasions, and this would have a healing and refreshing effect on the sheep. Jesus, our Shepherd, gives us times of rest, healing, and refreshment when we are suffering. God also calls us---we all have a purpose set aside for us. God guides us along that path.
Use a bit of the oil to make the sign of the cross on your forehead, or on the back of your hand. If you are doing this as a family, anoint one another. Remember as you do this, that you are called/you have a purpose. Remember that you belong to God, and that God shepherds you and calls you his own.
Taste/share a bit of the wine/juice, and a piece of the bread. The table is prepared for us. God will provide for us all that we need---our “cup overflows.”
Think about or write down a short response to the question: “What is God preparing me to do?”
(Adapted from Walking With Jesus Throught the Psalms, by Erica Schemper)