The Sunday before us is always a festive one in the life of our congregation. On Motherâ€™s Day, the Quilting Ministry presents for dedication a yearâ€™s worth of blankets and knitted items, material manifestations of the comfort and community we so cherish in the life of faith. These items will find their way to the Department of Children and Families and to other church and community members in moments of need, challenge, or transition. What a powerful witness that long before a pivotal or painful moment arrived, someone else was preparing an intricate expression of solace.
This year, our celebrations coincide with â€œGood Shepherd Sunday,â€ the time when the recommended scripture readings point us toward images of shepherd and sheep, including the beloved 23rd Psalm, which some of us may still know best in the King James: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soulâ€¦
A few years ago, a friend gifted me a childrenâ€™s book by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago, called Found, which presents the psalm in alternate language and simple, powerful pictures. My favorite pages render â€œYea, though I walk through the valley of the shadowâ€¦â€ in words even my two-year-old has repeated back to me: â€œEven when I walk through the dark, scary, lonely places, I wonâ€™t be afraid. Because my Shepherd knows where I am.â€*
God knows where we are. It is a short statement, but not a small one for those of us who find ourselves in dark, scary, lonely places. The Holy, Infinite One knows us in our finite, troubling reality. Fear, anger, and pain are not strangers to the Most High. Therefore, we are never alone.
Still, it can be helpful to have more than words to cling to when we are scared or alone. Itâ€™s why we gather, week after week, to worship and touch base with one another. Itâ€™s why we show up with cards and casseroles, protest signs and prayer beads to love and serve our neighbor. And itâ€™s why faithful hands work one stitch at a time to craft ever so beautifully the message we all need to hear: â€œDonâ€™t be afraid. God knows where you are.â€
*Â©2007 by Sally Lloyd-Jones. Book published by Zonderkids.