All Shall Be Well – A Sermon On Psalm 23 And COVID-19

By Kiwican – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

For many years my younger son (the one I told to swallow some spit) and I had a ritual when it was time for him to go to bed. First, we wrestled. Then I would tell him a story. And then we prayed. We had several bedtime prayers but his favorite came from Julian of Norwich, an English mystic who lived in mid-14th and early 15th centuries. He called it “the Julian Prayer.”

All shall be well. All shall be well. Every manner of thing shall be well.

I hope you will hold on to what those words say. Let them bind you to faith, hope, and love, and connect you to one another. The theme of those words – all shall be well – is the thread that runs through today’s psalm. 

I wonder how many times you’ve said or heard the words of Psalm 23. Of all the psalms it’s probably the best known and many people’s favorite. Its words are familiar and beloved. I suspect most of you know the words, and some of you have even memorized them. 

Those words comfort us in times of uncertainty and sustain us through sorrows and losses. They give us courage when we are afraid. They assure us there is nothing to fear in the dark valley of death. They offer hope and strength to take our next step. They remind us there is a way forward when we feel powerless and fearful. They promise us that we never walk alone. 

How fortunate are we that Psalm 23 is the psalm appointed for today? It is exactly what we need to hear today in the midst of COVID-19. 

When I look at all that has changed about our life and world; when I acknowledge the uncertainties of our future; when I read the statistics of cases and deaths; when I think about those who are losing jobs or income; when I wonder how long it will before we again greet each other with hugs, kisses, and handshakes — I don’t want more information or answers about COVID-19. And I don’t want more instructions on what to do or not do. 

I want to hear words of hope. I want to be reminded that “the Lord is my shepherd” and “I shall not be in want.” I want to be reassured that all shall be well. I want to soak myself in the words of Psalm 23 and let them soak into me. And I am betting you want the same things I do.

So I want you to do something. Let this be your new lenten practice. Pray Psalm 23 when you get up in the morning. Pray it again at noon. And pray it again before your fall asleep. Pray it for yourselves, for each other, for Uvalde, for America, and for the world.

Pray it slowly and deeply. Allow some silence – a soaking space – between each verse. Whether you pray the verses from memory or The Book of Common Prayer (p. 612) pray them like this – 

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not be in want.

All shall be well.

He makes me lie down in green pastures
and leads me beside still waters.

All shall be well.

He revives my soul
and guides me along right pathways for his Name’s sake.

All shall be well.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

All shall be well.

You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; 
you have anointed my head with oil,
and my cup is running over.

All shall be well.

Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, 
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Every manner of thing shall be well. 

How fortunate are we that Psalm 23 is the psalm appointed for today? It is exactly what we need to hear today – and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. 

15 thoughts on “All Shall Be Well – A Sermon On Psalm 23 And COVID-19

  1. Thank you for these words of comfort. I have always loved the prayer of Julian of Norwich .
    God bless and strengthen you in these difficult times.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike – I love all of your thoughts and sermons. I especially love this one because Julian happens to be a favorite of mine, too. In fact her “all shall be well” has been a mantra for me for a number of years now. I love how you incorporated it into Psalm 23 and I will be praying it now daily throughout this ordeal and beyond. It is lovely. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I often wonder how far your sermons travel! Certainly way beyond Uvalde Texas. My sister in York,PA and I are reading Psalm 23 as you suggested.It helps keep us close across the miles. Thank you,Mike , for reminding us that “all shall be well”.

    ellen connelly

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ellen, it’s so good to hear from you. Thanks for letting me know you sister also praying the psalm. Though we might be apart we never leave each other. I hope you are well.

      Take care. God’s peace be with you.
      Mike+

      Like

  4. I have shared this with many and thank you for your wisdom and prayer. Nightly I review my day with Psalm 23 and Julian looking for the “green pastures” and “still waters” of my day. There are many. Even in a place of chaos and uncertainly. A gentle reminder that God is near.

    Liked by 1 person

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