Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 25 April 2021- The Lord is my Shepherd.

by Rev Greg Obong-Oshotse and several of our Methodist Local Preachers 25 April 2021

Today is a first as we share in a common service on zoom between three churches of Greg’s section.  We have all had our issues during the pandemic and the effect it has had on all our lives.  As I looked at the lectionary for this week I see we explore “the good shepherd” as a model for community and thought this couldn’t be more apt.We share one minister but have many resources between the three churches and a need to develop relationship – to better know each other. In John Chapter 10 verses 11-18 later in the service  convey the image of Jesus as good shepherd drawing on the imagery of Psalm 23 and elsewhere, and is a familiar symbol for God/Jesus used in the Old and New Testaments.  Here, Jesus makes a contrast between the shepherd and a hired hand, and the ways in which they care for the sheep.  He clearly designates himself as the good shepherd, making it no longer a symbol but an opportunity for a relationship as he knows his sheep by name.We are part of a community which always comes with difficulties but being known and cared for also offers security.  Something we all need at the moment.

Call to Worship
The Lord is my good shepherd – and yours.  The shepherd knows you – and he knows me.
Come and walk with him beside the still waters.
Come and have your soul restored.

This morning let us come as sheep and gather; let us flock together.  Let us be in the shelter of the shepherd.  Let us be nurtured and protected, guided and known.
Let us feel the shepherd’s embrace and as we worship let us listen for His voice.

A prayer of adoration
Lord, we adore you, our Good Shepherd;
always there, always watchful.
Your fold is the space you hold for us, where we know we are loved.
Although dangers surround us, and in foolishness we may stray, you have our back.
So many sheep, yet you know us all be name.
Lord we adore you, our Good Shepherd. Amen

A prayer of confession and an Assurance of forgiveness
Lord, are we sheep or are we wolves?
For sometimes it seems that a killer instinct
is more valued in this world,
and we become one who preys on communities
rather than living in community.
We may not be aware of it,
for the ways of the world are seductive
and we slip into wolves’ clothing without thinking.
We make bad choices – how and where we spend our money –
not thinking of the exploitation that may have taken place.
Lord, Good Shepherd, forgive us these times –
when the wolf lurks beneath.
Remind us that, as Christians, we are creatures of the fold.
Bring us back to the community of love and life as it should be lived.  Amen.

Lord, who lays down your life for your sheep, how can we doubt your forgiveness?
Arms once stretched out upon a cross now close in embrace as we return;
enfolded, may we know the fullness of love that lives to forgive,
and forgives that we might live.  Amen.

A prayer of praise and thanksgiving
Lord, a year ago your house was not a fold in which we could meet.
Confined to our homes, we prayed as a silent wolf prowled the world, a pandemic that threatened us all.
We thank you for watching over us, and for those of us who were safely delivered.

It was a testing time, Lord, but yet there was community.

We thank you for the proof that your Church has no walls, as we learned to reach out to one another and still to worship – but in different ways.

We thank you for those in our communities who had been taken for granted, overlooked, not considered of great importance, but on whom we came to rely to save lives.

We thank you that our values were tested, and that we saw what really matters.

Good Shepherd, who knows suffering and sacrifice beyond our imagining, we thank you that we are here today, enfolded in your love. Amen.

Hymn: O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder

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Reading: John 10:11-18 

Reflection on John 10:11-18
Jesus’ parable draws on the examples of Moses (Exodus 3.1ff) and David (2 Samuel 5.2). In Ezekiel 34, Israel’s leaders, both good and bad, are shepherds. Jesus’ image is both pastoral and political. Who might be the hired hands in his parable, who care nothing for the sheep? A wide range of leaders, then and now, fit the bill.

What qualifies Jesus to be ‘the good shepherd’? Three times he draws attention to his readiness to risk his own life to protect his flock (vv.11,15,17). ‘Laying down’ and ‘taking up’ his life is the shepherd’s daily habit of lying across the gate of the sheepfold at night to protect the flock and rising each morning to lead them to pasture (vv.17-18). 

It is also the shape of God’s grace that descends from heaven in the Word made flesh before being exalted to the Father’s heart in the cross (John 1.1-18; 12.32). Shepherd-like care enables shepherd and sheep to know each other in a knowledge that reflects Jesus’ relationship with the God he calls ‘Father’.

This shepherd is good enough to see further than his beloved flock. ‘Other sheep’ graze pastures that lie beyond the boundaries of respectability and race. In this Gospel, they are represented by the Samaritan woman, the critically ill, the disabled poor and the woman caught committing adultery. There is room for them too in the ‘one flock’.

How does Jesus model what good shepherding is like? The shepherd shows the cost of caring by laying down his life. The shepherd knows us. The shepherd is inherently good. The shepherd is faithful to his sheep – he doesn’t abandon them (us) when life gets tough. The shepherd is faithful to, and keeps in close contact with, God. The shepherd is in control. The shepherd searches out the lost. How can we mirror these attributes as a loving community serving God?

A Time of Remembrance
Looking Back over the last 12 months at lives lost: 

Findern -  Seymour Bell, Hazel Foster.

Newmount - Dennis Bales, Kath Nelson, Roger Smith, Trevor Smith.

Chellaston - Alan Ainsworth, Ian Baylis, Sheila Dowding, Joan Hall, Gwen Lunt, Sarah Matthews.

You may like to spend a few minutes of reflection as the candles burn.

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Hymn: When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound (When the roll is called up yonder)

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Reading:Psalm 23

Prayers of intercession including the Lord’s Prayer
As we entwine our hands in prayer, so we entwine our love, our care, our thoughts,
our concerns for those whose names and situations we pray for.
O Lord our God you are the shepherd of your sheep;
of those who are faithful and stay near,
of those who wander and are far off,
of those who know you and those who don’t,
of those who have heard your name
and those for whom your name is a mystery yet to be revealed.
Shepherd of the sheep, we bring our prayers for them all.

For those who are lost or alone or lonely, struggling through life with no one to guide them, to protect and shelter them, to care for and sustain them;
for those without family, without friends, without roots, without homes.
Shepherd of the sheep, we bring our prayers for them all.

For those with no food and no money to buy it,
for those who day to day struggle to feed themselves and their family and who feel they have nowhere to turn and no one to turn too; praying especially for those in our own country who need to use food banks, that they may find there the support they need and life line in these times;

For peoples of all faith who seek peace and harmony
but are challenged with sectarian views and violent extremists,
who fear for their lives and their communities and their very existence.

For those who struggle with damaged relationships and domestic violence, those who feel trapped and who see little option but the life they have and the path it has taken; that someone somewhere, will show them a better way, a safety net, a safe house and home and way of life.
Shepherd of the sheep, we bring our prayers for them all.

For those whose lives have been turned upside down by the Covid pandemic, through illness itself, through isolation, fear, hardship, unemployment, debt, overwork, stress or grief;
may the world pull together to help and support and vaccinate
and may all see and know that until the world is vaccinated none of us are safe.

We pray for the people and situations whose images and pictures and words have imprinted themselves on our lives this last week,
we see them now in our minds eye and for them all in a moment of quiet we pray.
Shepherd of the sheep, we bring our prayers for them all.

O Lord our God, you are the shepherd of your sheep,
bless all those for whom we have prayed
and bless us, each one of us as we seek to help those we can,
those we encounter as we live out our lives.
May our feet walk for you, may our hands touch for you,
may our voices speak for you and may our ears hear the needs of those who speak.

Let us join together in the prayer our Father taught us:
Our Father who art in heaven ….

Hymn:The Lord’s my Shepherd (Stuart Townend)

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So we pray to our risen Lord Jesus Christ, the great shepherd of the sheep, asking that we all may be full to overflowing with grace and peace, to live a life worthy of our calling and to be a blessing within our community. 

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ 
The Love of God 
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit 
Be with us all, evermore 


Acknowledgement to Roots Worship for some of the prayers and the reflection used.