Saturday, 2 May 2020

Easter 4 Morning Worship -- The Good Shepherd

We begin to day with a reflection by the Reverend Tim Sale on Vulnerability and Simplicity.  Please follow the link below
Please note this is in the format of the Anglican Church of Canada, the collect, prayer over the gifts, Lord’s prayer all come from the Book of Alternative Services other sources have been noted.  If an item is not sourced I am the author

Prayers found on line have been sourced

** this is for personal use as the church is unable to gather in our houses of worship but together we can worship in our own homes.

Sentence of the Day:
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord: I know my own and my own know me. 
John 10.14

Hymn       All People that on Earth do Dwell
All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice;
Him serve with mirth, his praise forth tell,
Come we before him, and rejoice.

Know that the Lord is God indeed;
Without our aid he did us make;
We are his folk, he does us feed,
And for his sheep he does us take.

O enter then his gates with praise;
Approach with joy his courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless his Name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

For why? the Lord our God is good:
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.

To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
The God whom heav’n and earth adore,
From us and from the angel host
Be praise and glory evermore.

Gathering together 
Alleluia, Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed, Alleluia!
He has triumphed over death
He has triumphed over the grave
He has risen
Christ is alive
(from the Rhythm of Life By David Adam)

Together we Pray
Loving shepherd you know and care for each of us. When we feel loss, alone and in darkness you walk with us and remind us that you are always beside us. When we long for your love remind us that you are always present. When we struggle in fear, filled with doubt and uncertainty remind us that you light our path and that your goodness and mercy are ever present. Amen                 

Christ our Passover

Alleluia! Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us; * therefore let us keep the feast, Not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, * but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Alleluia!

Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; * death no longer has dominion over him. The death that he died, he died to sin, once for all; * but the life he lives, he lives to God. So also consider yourselves dead to sin, * and alive to God in Jesus Christ our Lord. Alleluia!

Christ has been raised from the dead, * the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by a man came death, * by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, * so also in Christ shall all be made alive. Alleluia!

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
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.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
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.

Listen for the word which God has spoken;
Speak, Lord, to our speaking,
Speak, Lord, to our listening,
Speak, Lord, to our souls’ deep understanding
As the scriptures are read, we allow God’s word to speak to us, and ponder its meaning in our lives.  Hear these words of Scripture:

A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles (2:42-47)
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. 
Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church           R: Thanks be to God

A Song of Praise
You created all things, O God, and are worthy of our praise forever
You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power.
For you have created all things, and by your will they have their being.
You are worthy, O Lamb, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and nation.
You made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign with you on earth.
To the one who sits on the throne and to the lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might, forever and ever. Amen
You created all things, O God, and are worthy of our praise forever

A Reading from the first letter of Peter (2:19-25)
For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.
Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church         R: Thanks be to God

Hymn  Spirit Open my Heart
Listen Here
Spirit open my heart, to the joy and pain of living.
As You love, may I love; in receiving and in giving.
Spirit open my heart.

God replace my stony heart, with a heart kind and tender.
All my coldness and pain to Your grace, I now surrender.      (Refrain)

Write Your love upon my heart, as my law, my goal, my story.
In each though, word and deed, may my living be Your glory.     (Refrain)

May I weep with those who weep; share my joy with sisters, brothers.
In the Name of Christ, may we welcome one another.     (Refrain)

The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St. John (10:1-10)“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
The Gospel of Christ                                  R: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ 

The Homily today is offered by the Reverend Canon Mary Lysecki

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight,     O Lord, our strength and our redeemer.

Karen has asked me to prepare a sermon for the fourth Sunday of Easter. Now as I understand it the preacher’s job is to open up for us the scripture that is read each week.  I thought I should maybe let you know how I approach the reading of scripture, so you will have some clue as to how I am led to understand it.

Elder Betty Ross taught me a good way to approach God in prayer. 
Close your eyes,
be still and go deep inside yourself,
go very deep,
look for that little spark, deep inside. 
Pay attention to that spark. 
Now let us pray.

And I thought maybe that is a good way to approach God through the reading of scripture as well. Get in touch with that of God in me, that little spark, and let that spark recognize that of God in the scripture.

On a good day that is how I read scripture. 

Another clue to where I get my Biblical interpretation from is this passage from the first letter of John:

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.” 1 John 4: 7-9

That is to say, I read scripture knowing that God is love and love sent love’s only son into the world so that we might have life through him.

So with all that in mind, let’s look at the gospel for today, Jesus’ parable of the good shepherd.    I first asked, “What is the context?”
To begin with this took place on a Sabbath day.  We read in chapter 8 that on the morning in question, Jesus had been in the temple, where he had accused the others present of being children of the devil. They asked him (hotly, one would imagine) who he thought he was.  He replied, ‘Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth.  Jesus cured the man’s blindness and then went on his way. The man’s neighbours were amazed and concerned, wondering how could this be?  So they brought the man to the Pharisees. The Pharisees, on hearing the man’s testimony, were divided – is this Jesus a man of God or not – he doesn’t observe the Sabbath but how can a man who is a sinner perform miracles?

They called the man back and said, “We know this man is a sinner.”

The man said, “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. . . , If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
The Pharisees said, “You were born entirely in sins and are you trying to teach us” And they drove him out.
Jesus heard that they had driven him out and went to find him. Jesus invited the man to believe in Jesus as the Son of Man and when he did, Jesus said,  ‘I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.’

Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains.’
And here is where the gospel reading for today begins.

Jesus continued, ‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit.’

Understandably, I think, the disciples had trouble following this shift in the conversation. Let’s see if we can.

This is one of Jesus’ parables or metaphoric stories. Jesus invites his hearers to figure out what the story represents.

The sheepfold – could be the people of Israel, could be all God’s creatures.

The gate – could be God, or in other words love.

The one who enters by the gate, who comes in love, is the true shepherd of God’s people. The one who will lead them to green pastures, beside still waters. The one who will keep them safe from evil even though they walk through the valley of death. The one who restores their souls.

The ones who do not know God, who do not follow the two great commandments, are the ones who try to lead the sheep out of the fold for their own reasons, not for God’s sake, not for love’s sake.  They do not approach God’s people through love, but climb in by another way. 

Sound like anyone in the previous encounter? The religious authorities, maybe?

And the shepherd calls the sheep by name. Because the shepherd recognizes that of God in the sheep.

He calls you by name. Isn’t that amazing?

He calls you by name.
Because he knows you.

He recognizes that spark deep inside you that has been there since he created you. He sees God in you.

And, Jesus, says, the sheep follow him because they know his voice.

The sheep recognize the one who enters by the gate, by God, by love. That of God in them recognizes God in the shepherd. That of love in them recognizes that of love in the shepherd. 

It took the man born blind a little while but he eventually realized that he recognized the shepherd.

As Pastor David Lose says, “Jesus not only says that he is the good shepherd, he also reminds the sheep that they know him, that they’ve trusted him, and that they will continue to trust him, that they will be able to tell the difference between false hope and real hope, that they’ll detect a genuine offer of abundant life and all the counterfeits being peddled to them.”

Because that little spark in us recognizes Jesus, recognizes love.

But we do have to pay attention to that spark.

Br. Nicholas Bartoli of the Society of St. John the Evangelist says, “One day, perhaps, those seeking answers from Jesus will remember what has always been true, that they are, already, being guided by the Good Shepherd; that they are, already, dwelling in the pasture we call God’s Kingdom. God’s Truth is not so much hidden or difficult to attain, but merely forgotten. All we need do is remember.”

He also says, “But when our minds are distracted by worry and anxiety, we forget God’s eternal presence. We forget, and so we fail to recognize Christ’s Light in a flower, a friend’s face, a cloud in the sky, the play of shadows at dusk, the sound of rustling leaves, or even the subtle sense of our own beingness.”

When we forget it is as if we become blind. When we’re spiritually blind, we are a danger to ourselves and others.

And so I invite you to take some time this week to sit quietly.
Close your eyes,
be still and go deep inside yourself,
go very deep,
look for that little spark, deep inside. 
Pay attention to that spark. 
And then pray for whatever your spark/that of God in you is calling you to pray for.

Do we know that within each one of us is the unspeakably beautiful beat of the Sacred? Do we know that we can honor that Sacredness in one another and in everything that has being? And do we know that this combination—growing in awareness that we are bearers of Presence, along with a faithful commitment to honor that Presence in one another and the earth—holds the key to transformation in our world? —John Philip Newell

Invitation to the Offering             (inspired by Psalm 23, 1 John 3)
The Shepherd cares for us, providing all that we need in abundance.
The Shepherd calls us to love one another in truth and action.
May our gifts reflect our trust in the Shepherd’s care.
May our offerings show our willingness to love one another.

** Although not physically at our church buildings to share our offering together I would encourage you to set you offering of money and food aside so that it can be mailed, dropped off or placed in the church once services resume** Please remember ministry is still taking place

Offering Hymn     The Lord's my Shepherd
Listen Here
The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll not want;
he makes me down to lie
in pastures green; he leadeth me
the quiet waters by.

My soul he doth restore again,
and me to walk doth make
within the paths of righteousness,
e'en for his own name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through death's dark vale,
yet will I fear none ill,
for thou art with me; and thy rod
and staff me comfort still.

My table thou hast furnished
in presence of my foes;
my head thou dost with oil anoint,
and my cup overflows.

Goodness and mercy all my life
shall surely follow me;
and in God's house forevermore
my dwelling place shall be.

Prayer for the offering
God of love, you abide with us; you provide for all our needs and guide us in your ways.  Out of gratitude for your care, we bring our gifts before you.  Use them for your work of caring, that all may feast at the table of abundance, walk without fear, and drink deeply from the cup of compassion. Amen.
~ written by Mary Petrina Boyd,
and posted on Ministry Matters.

An Affirmation of Faith
We believe, O God of all gods,
that you are the eternal maker of life:
we believe, O God of all gods
that you are the eternal maker of love.

We believe, O Lord and God of all people,
that you are the creator
of the high heavens,
that you are the creator
of the skies above,
that you are the creator
of the oceans below.

We believe, O lord and God of all people,
that you are the one who created our souls
and set their course,
that you are the one who created our bodies
from dust and from ashes,
that you gave to our bodies their breath
and to our souls their possession.

God, bless to us our bodies,
God, bless to us our souls,
God, bless to us our lives,
God, bless to us our belief.                                                      (A Wee Worship Book)

Intercessions and Thanksgivings
Loving Shepherd, we hear your word and let it speak to us, let it wash over us and let it renew us so that we know your presence and mercy are always with us, we prepare ourselves for this time of prayer, focusing on You with our every breath.   We breathe you in and we cry out O Lord, our Shepherding God, come close to us now. Come near us in our time of need.

Loving Shepherd we pray for our world and all of its needs,
             for the environment and its much-needed rest,
                     for the wars that continue when peace is desperately needed,
                            for the healing of the many who are sick,  
                                                (please take the time to offer your petitions)
O Lord, our Shepherding God, come close to us now. Come near us in our time of need.

Loving Shepherd, we pray for our country, Canada and our provinces and territories;
                  for the leaders as they try their best to make good and right decisions, 
                  help us to remember that they too struggle in the uncertainly of our times, 
                  that they are imperfect people trying to do their best,
                                                (please take the time to offer your petitions)
O Lord, our Shepherding God, come close to us now. Come near us in our time of need.

Loving Shepherd, we pray for our community,
               give thanks for the willingness of people to listen to the advice to stay home, 
               to isolate and do our part to “flatten the curve”
                       for those who are experiencing unexpected unemployment and income loss 
                       and who struggle and live with increased anxiety as a result
                               for those who are essential workers, who must go into work each day
                               to tend to the needs of the larger community despite fear about their own
                               safety and well being
                                               (please take the time to offer your petitions)
O Lord, our Shepherding God, come close to us now. Come near us in our time of need.

Loving Shepherd, we uphold all those who are sick
                 for those who have tested positive for Covid 19, for those who have 
                 more serious symptoms and for those who struggle to survive
                        for those undergoing medical treatments for health issues of any kind
                              for those who struggle with mental health and find this time of isolation     
                              exasperating and causing and increase in anxiety and depression
                                           (please take the time to offer your petitions)
O Lord, our Shepherding God, come close to us now. Come near us in our time of need.

Loving Shepherd, we pray for all those who have died
                  remind us that although we are isolated, we are never alone and 
                  your legions of angels gather around those who are dying, receiving 
                  them into your loving mercy
                           let those who have died rest in peace and rise in glory
                                        (please take the time to offer your petitions)
O Lord, our Shepherding God, come close to us now. Come near us in our time of need.

Loving Shepherd, you are breath and life, we breathe you in and feel Your calm presence flowing in and through us this and every day. Amen

The Collect
O God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make us perfect in every good work to do your will, and work in us that which is well-pleasing in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

The Dismissal
Let us bless the Lord
Thanks be to God. Alleluia

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Hymn      Walk Softly in Springtime
Listen Here
Walk softly in springtime, to hear the grass sing
its whispering carols to Jesus our king;
to see the new flowers bright colors display;
to tell all the children of glad Easter day.

Sing gently in springtime, and join with the birds,
who warble their music, a song without words,
that floats through the air and that reaches the sky,
a message of love to the Father on high.

Praise gladly in springtime when earth seems to glow
with new life and color in all things that grow;
for all nature's children are happy to say,
"Rejoice, for the Savior is risen today."

Postlude    There is a Redeemer
There is a redeemer Jesus, God's own Son
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah Holy One

Thank you, oh my Father for giving us Your Son
And leaving Your Spirit til the work on Earth is done
Jesus my redeemer name above all names
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah oh, for sinners slain

When I stand in Glory I will see His face
And there I'll serve my King forever in that Holy Place

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