Lectionary Reading for Sunday: Psalm 23 (NRSV)
The twenty-third Psalm is probably the most well-known of all the psalms. It is often a go-to comfort passage for funerals. When people do not express a preference, I often use it in a graveside service if we are coming from worship at the church or chapel.
The familiarity for many people (especially in the King James Version) is helpful as we consider our grief or loss. While the NRSV is more accurate in translating the ending as dwelling in “the house of the Lord my whole life long”, the KJV speaks more to eternity for a memorial as it reads, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Green pastures and still waters offer a peaceful setting that is helpful when thinking of eternal rest. These can apply to more than people. One of our faithful dogs, Darwin, was a mixed breed of German Shepherd and Black Labrador. He used to love swimming in our family pond near Stillwater. It was enjoyable just to watch him go for a dip. He would do lazy circles in the water and when he would get close to the shore, he would turn and head back out taking long slow strokes with his big paws. You could tell that he just loved the water.
One of his favorite games was fetching a plastic fish on the end of Kyla’s Barbie fishing pole. You could cast it into the pond and Dar would go after it every time as you reeled it in. If he caught it, he would bring it back to shore and would deposit it unharmed for another go.
I loved that dog!
Sometimes I wonder if I will see him again after this mortal life is over. Will there be a large pack of dogs waiting for me? It is comforting to think so. I’ve heard some say that it wouldn’t really be heaven without their beloved pets. Since there is no way of knowing, I’m not going to argue against it.
Pets, just like people, can be emissaries of God’s grace in our lives. They may even help us through the dark valleys that everyone must walk from time to time. We each experience God’s presence in different ways. I think the unconditional love of a dog has often expressed the Divine presence to me more times than I could count.
Check out Sam’s Blog here: http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com/