‘Come away in!’ - Rural Hospitality
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
Many remote and rural communities rely more on hospitality than the self-contained urban lifestyles of those living in towns and cities. For instance, isolated island villages often need to band together in times of crisis, pooling resources so that everybody benefits. Folk have to depend on one another. This is often driven by necessity but leads to real bonds of trust.
All human life is dependent on relationships with others - but just like the stars in the night sky - this can be easier to see away from the big city lights.
Psalm 23 describes the Lord as an ultimate rural host: the good shepherd caring for the flock, looking out for all their needs.The flock can’t be self-sufficient, striking out on their own; they have to rely on the shepherd, but also on one another. Their lives are bound together.
When you see sheep move, they pick up signals from each other as well as the shepherd. It may be a few sheep with their wooly ears to the ground that first pick up where the shepherd is leading them and who lead their fellow sheep.
Help us to remember the ties that bind us together
one life to another
one soul to another
on this weathered earth.
Help us to remember that we are not
or as fractured
as we imagine.
Encourage us to throw our lot in with others
to realise that it is in another’s welfare
that I find my own,
that trust and gifts and thoughtful gestures
life and death
love and happiness