Churches, Sheep, and the Book of Psalms

My parents attended an Episcopal church steeped in liturgical practices. Most male attendees were scratch golfers who wore pink ties even in the dead of winter.  The women wore Lilly Pulitzer shifts with cable knit sweaters draped over their shoulders. Priests came and went – faster it seemed if they couldn’t hold their own on the first tee.

I hated St. Johns.  Everything about it smacked of a casual faith that went out the window Monday morning.   I remember glaring at the deacon as he passed the offering plate, a pink pants golfer whom everyone knew was a mean drunk and a braggart.  He happened to be my uncle.

But there was something in those stale services that stayed with me. Snippets of Scripture read responsively. I especially internalized readings from the book of Psalms – such as this passage from Psalm 100 —

Know this – The Lord himself is God. He himself has made us and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise; give thanks to him and call upon his name.  For the Lord is good.  His mercy is everlasting and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

These words recited each Sunday morning returned to me during seasons of life when I strayed from the fold and sought my own way.  These words offered hope and security with a side of conviction.  The Good Shepherd calling me back to peaceful pastures.

Even today when anxiety wells up, when I succumb to the “scaries” of life – I recite this passage as I did long ago – a judgmental preteen surrounded by people in pink.

And at the end I may even add a Baa or two.

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