Today I sang at the memorial service for the mother of a good friend of mine. Another good friend, a deacon in the church, read the scripture for the service. Well, he read one of them. The first scripture, the 23rd psalm, he recited in the King James Version. Instead of looking down at the words and raising his eyes to us every now and then, he looked out over the congregation, steadily gazing at each of our faces, dwelling ever so slightly on the weepy eyes of the grieving family, giving weight and cadence to each precious verse.
It was no longer a reading from scripture; it became a testimony, a witness of faith. It was as if he were drawing not only from his memory but from his own experiences of being led by the Good Shepherd, of facing his own valley of the shadow of death, of being seated at a table with his enemies, of mercy overflowing from his cupped hands. It may sound trite, but there was such beauty in what he did that I had tears in my eyes.
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 soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
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.