Rev. Larissa Forsythe is the Associate Minister at Congregational Church in South Glastonbury.
Scripture: Psalm 23 (CEB)
The Lord is my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
he keeps me alive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—
they protect me.
You set a table for me
right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil;
my cup is so full it spills over!
Yes, goodness and faithful love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live in the Lord’s house
as long as I live.
Reflection: A Cup Runneth Over
Easter Sunday, 1992. I was in my first year away studying theatre at Western Carolina University after attending community college for two years near my Central Florida home. We had a short Easter break but it wasn’t long enough to get back to my folks. So, I found myself nearly alone on campus, reveling in the glory of a North Carolina spring and wondering what to do with myself on my first ever Easter away from home. One other “theatre girl” was staying on campus as well. We didn’t know each other very well but, with a glorious day beckoning us, we decided to head up to Whitewater Falls and hike up to the top.
Celebrating the Resurrection was not yet part of my tradition but the day still had a sacred air as we left the parking lot and headed up the trail. When we reached the top of the falls, we found a rock near the middle of the river to sit on only 100 yards or so from where the falls dropped into oblivion. There was not another human in sight and we sat in silence for a good long while, awe struck by the beauty of the place and the unexpected holiness of the moment. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a glint of metal in the sun just to my right. There was a beer can, stuck in a branch about ten feet away from us. Just a look between us communicated our disgust that someone would profane this cathedral with litter. With some maneuvering and an assist from my friend holding a stray branch out to steady me, I was able to reach the can. Imagine my surprise to find it full. And, chilled nearly to perfection by the cold rushing water. It felt like a gift and we were giddy at the thought of such providential care on a high holy morning. It may seem pretty irreverent to churchy folks (which, these days, includes me) but we really did feel like we had been touched by a Divine Hand as we shared that beer on the rock in the middle of Whitewater River, overlooking one of the tallest waterfalls East of the Mississippi. Though I was not familiar with scripture, I remember thinking as we sat there “my cup runneth over.”
Is there a text in the Bible more familiar and more embedded in cultural memory than Psalm 23? I think I knew it almost by heart as a child even though I almost never went to church. As an adult, I find my mind and spirit repeating Psalm 23 when I feel over my head, when grief lurks in the shadows, when I need to be reminded that I’m not alone in this big and scary world. There is power in this psalm - to comfort, to calm, and to root us in the ground of our being.
And yet, it is so much more than that. Psalm 23 sets a table of abundance for us in the face of our fears; it promises that grace isn’t just available to us, it’s chasing us down; it asserts that God is on our side, God is right here with us, and that God intends that we thrive. When we might be tempted to see scarcity- or litter! - God offers us an overflowing cup. Where we might be tempted to see enemies - or strangers - God sets a table and and invites us to break bread. When we feel frazzled and lost, God invites us to sit, to rest, to receive care. Even the darkest valley holds no threat to us for God is with us and, in God, darkness is a generative source of life. Whatever we might want to frame as hopeless, God encourages us to take another look through the lens of Abundant Grace. Psalm 23 is all about fullness - in light and in shadow, in valleys and on mountaintops. As we continue our Lenten journey to the cross and beyond, may we be reminded that, in all things, God’s care is pursuing us and all people and calling us into the realization that, indeed, our cups runneth over.
Abundant Shepherd, on the high holy days, on the dreary valley days, and every day in between, help us to remember the your Grace is all encompassing. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at email@example.com.
Prayers of Intercession:
- For the family and friends of The Rev. Ms. Shirley Herman Wilcox, an ordained chaplain with Massachusetts General Hospital. Rev. Wilcox died on February 23
- For those for whom the shut downs and social distancing of our communities creates hardship, fears, or anxiety
- For those who have or are delayed in lines at airports as virus screenings proceed
- For those grieving after a shooting in Springfield, Missouri left 5 dead including a police officer and two wounded
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For those faithful servants who continued to reach out to and with their communities members this weekend with prayers, visits, and online worships
Please Pray for the Following SNEUCC Churches:
First Christian Congregational Church, Swansea, MA
The First Church in Swampscott, Congregational, Swampscott, MA
First Congregational Church, Sutton, MA
First Congregational Church, Sunderland, MA
First Church of Christ, Congregational, Suffield, CT
Memorial Congregational Church UCC, Sudbury, MA
Federated Church of Sturbridge and Fiskdale, Sturbridge, MA
New Hope United Church of Christ, Sturbridge, MA
First Congregational Church of Stratford, Stratford, CT
Lordship Community Church, Inc., Stratford, CT
First Congregational Church UCC, Stoughton, MA
This Week in History:
March 22, 1972 (48 years ago) The Equal Rights Amendment is passed by U.S. Senate and sent to states for ratification. The amendment provided for the legal equality of the sexes and prohibited discrimination on the bases of sex. The amendment failed to be ratified by the requisite 38 states (three fourths). As a result, women's rights, with the exception of the right to vote, are not protected by the U.S. Constitution. Most states have passed their own laws to protect women, but the amendment remains un-ratified to this date.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”