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How to Love the World: A Psalm of Gratitude and Hope

by Rev. Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

We spent the last two summer months preaching the Psalms, and now we will take a deep dive into the most beloved of all—Psalm 23. Why is the ancient poetry of Psalm 23 resonant, even today, thousands of years after it was authored? How do the Psalm 23 metaphors of God as shepherd and host help us to thrive spiritually, intellectually, physically, and emotionally? What kinds of tangible life-giving, life-changing spiritual practices might emerge for us individually and collectively from a close reading of Psalm 23 at the cusp of what we hope is the last season of COVID-19’s too-long incumbency?

In order to add texture and specificity to the broad overarching themes of Psalm 23, each week a verse of Psalm 23 will be accompanied by a poem from a new collection, many of which were written just months ago, called “How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope,” edited by James Crews (copies available at the Book Stall). Crews says, “paying attention to our lives is the first step toward gratitude and hope,” and these poems do just that. Similarly, poet Ross Gay aptly suggests, “we make the world in our witnessing of it,” and so we will use this time with Psalm 23 to witness the deep gratitude and hope we find in a spirit-filled life, and await God’s transformation among us. Let us re-make the world together this summer with deep gratitude, allowing our Shepherd-God to lead the way.

This sermon series takes place from July 25–September 5 and features sermons from Bill Evertsberg, Christine Hides, and me.

Date Title Lesson
July 25 How to Love the World Again, I: The Joy of Presence Psalm 23:1      The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
August 1 How to Love the World Again, II: The Kingdom at Hand Psalm 23:2      He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
August 8 How to Love the World Again, III: Returning to the World Psalm 23:3      He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
August 15 How to Love the World Again, IV: Gratitude for Small Victories Psalm 23:4a    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
August 22 How to Love the World Again, V: Pieces of Heaven Psalm 23:4b    For thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
August 29 How to Love the World Again, VII: The Feast of Each Moment Psalm 23:5      Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
September 5 How to Love the World Again, VI: The Joy of Making Psalm 23:6      Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Posted on July 21, 2021