Fourth Sunday of Easter

SUNDAY 3 MAY 2020

Welcome

Good morning to you all 

     not only to those who are members of Glenburn Parish Church 

     but also to anyone who has found their way to our website, whether intentionally or by accident 

     please be assured that it is great that we are able to share together in this time of Christian worship – and may it be for all of us

     a time when we know that we are in the presence of God and that his blessing is with us.  

Call to Worship

In these days of continuing lock-down – days of continuing uncertainty and concern

the Psalmist encourages us to look beyond our current situation – we are encouraged to :

Know that the Lord is God.

It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, the sheep of his pasture

(Psalm 100 : v3)

With that assurancefirmly set in our minds and hearts  

Let us worship God

Praise

Our first hymn is “All heaven declares the glory of the Risen Lord”   

Maria has very kindly recorded this hymn for us – so please join with her as we sing this hymn, the words of which are in the video.

Prayers based on our Personal Faith and Devotion        

Let us pray

Living God

     we have just sung that the church in “heaven declares the glory of the Risen Lord”

     and so too – we who are part of the church on earth “proclaim the glory of the Risen Lord”

            the Risen Lord who destroyed the power of death and opened the way to eternal life

            the Risen Lord who totally defeated everything which can deny your love

            the Risen Lord who transforms endings into glorious new beginnings

     and so – though still apart in the sense of physical presence

     yet bound together in the mystery – and in the reality of your ever-present love

     we come to worship and praise your holy name

     through the risen and living Lord Jesus

Father

     as we share this time of worship with others 

          thank you that your Spirit comes to us

            that it fills us – directs and leads us

            but help us to realise that it is not only in our weekly, shared worship

            that we need to be close to you – that we need to be in your presence

            it is in being close to you – that we find our strength – our purpose and our peace   

I need thee every hour – most gracious Lord

no tender voice but thine – can peace afford

     in this world ofoften unrelenting noise – we thank you for opportunities of quiet

          the gentle sounds of nature in the countryside

          even the current hush in our towns and communities

          the peace of our homes

          the opportunities of contemplation     

     forgive us Lord

          when we are the source of unnecessary noise

          trying to be heard above and instead of others

          wanting to speak or shout – instead of listening

          drowning out even your tender voice of peace

Lord – I need thee every hour

I need thee every hour – stay thou near by

temptations lose their power – when thou art nigh

God – in our daily living

     we encounter so much which appears to be tempting

          quick and easy solutions to financial concerns 

          opportunity of instant pleasure

          encouragement not to be true to ourselves and most especially – not true to you our God

     forgive us Lord

          when we do so easily give in to temptation

          when we hurt and disappoint others by our actions and our attitudes

          when we fail to do what we know we ought to do

          when we close our ears to your voice of leading – choosing to go our own way as we stray from you

          when our words and actions betray again – your Son who died on a cross for us

Lord – I need thee every hour

I need thee every hour – in joy or in pain

Come quickly and abide – or life is vain

Lord – especially in these days 

     we cannot fail to see that – as is often said 

          life is a rich tapestry

          of good times and times of challenge

          of joy and of sadness

          of strength and of weakness

     forgive us Lord

          when our focus on you is sometimes – or even mainly — only in the difficult times and situations of life

          and we so easily forget that you are there in the good times

          supporting and leading us – sharing our joys and showering us with blessings

          when we are slow to offer you our thanks for every blessing in our lives

          but quick to come to you as we cry out for your help – to guide and sustain us through darker days

          when we think that life is vain – forgetting that fullness of life is in Christ 

Lord – I need thee every hour

I need thee every hour – teach me thy will

and thy rich promises – in me fulfil

God of all

     there is so much searching which is happening in our world today

          searching for preventative and healing medications for the Covid-19 virus

          searching for the best, the least dangerous and the most effective ways to ease nations, communities, businesses, families and individuals out of the restrictions of lock-down

          searching for means to protect and then as necessary – to move economies out of stagnation and depression

          searching for the adjustment and enhancement of international and trading relationships

     there is so much searching in the lives of many individual people

          searching for understanding of the “bigger picture” of our current situation – and how of necessity it is affecting  weekly routines and daily lives

          searching for clarity on future timescales

          searching for understanding of technical and scientific issues about the virus

          searching for understanding of political decisions

in all of this Lord

     people are searching for meaning in their lives

     knowing that there is a dimension of life beyond themselves and their current situation

     but perhaps unable to discern where that is amidst the all the voices which bombard them

     forgive us Lord

          when we are reluctant to have you teach us your will – and how it might be shown and enacted through our lives

          when we doubt your promises  — for others and for us

          for being fearful, timid and hesitant

          and for not relying on the promises of the presence, the strength and the blessing of our Risen Lord 

God of promise

     thank you  that not only are your promises for this earthly life

     but thank you that you have promised eternal life for those who believe and trust in you

     we too Lord – have made solemn promises to you

     and so – as we trust that your promises will be fulfilled

     we ask that you would give us grace to fulfil the promises which we have made to you

 Lord –      I need thee every hour – stay thou nearby

                    that my life might be lived in your service

                    and to the praise and glory of your name

                    now and always

                   AMEN

Scripture Reading :  John 10 : verses 1 to 10 (English Standard Version)

10 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 

But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 

To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 

When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 

A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 

This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door for the sheep. 

All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

                        AMEN

Thanks be to God for his Word – shared among us today

Praise

Our next hymn is “The King of love my Shepherd is”

(The words on this recording are printed below :

please note that they are slightly amended from the version with which you may be most familiar)

The King of love my Shepherd is – whose goodness fails me never

I nothing lack if I am his – and he is mine for ever

Where streams of living water flow – with gentleness he leads me

and where the verdant pastures grow – with heavenly food he feeds me

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed – but yet in love he sought me

and on his shoulder gently laid – and home rejoicing brought me

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill – with you dear Lord beside me

your rod and staff my comfort still – your cross before to guide me

And so through all the length of days – your goodness fails me never

Good Shepherd may I sing your praise – within your house for ever

Good Shepherd may I sing your praise – within your house for ever.

REFLECTION

A technique which Jesus used regularly as he taught his disciples and as he taught the crowds was to develop “word pictures” – using examples of things which were within the common experience of his hearers.  In John’s Gospel – there are 7 sayings in which Jesus used metaphors about himself to teach his listeners about whom he was – and about what God is like.

Across the Judean lands in which Jesus lived, travelled and carried out his ministry – sheep farming on the hillsides and the plateaux was a predominant way of life – something with which most, if not all people, would be familiar.

In the first five verses of our reading today – Jesus was speaking about a sheepfold – about the role of the shepherd and about the trusting way in which the sheep react to the shepherd.

A sheepfold was an enclosure into which the sheep were gathered for their safety. 

When the sheep grazed around the villages dotted across the landscape – there were communal sheepfolds into which the sheep of all the shepherds were gathered at night – the time of greatest danger from predators and thieves.  Such a sheepfold would have a strong door and be under the supervision of an appointed guardian.

When the sheep grazed further out on the hillsides – they didn’t return to the villages at night but were gathered into what could be described as “open-ended” sheepfolds where they grazed These enclosures did not have a door – and so it was the practice of the shepherd that he would lie across the entrance way – to protect his sheep by preventing the access of any unwanted predator or thief.  So effectively, the shepherd became the door (or the gate) at these enclosures.

Jesus said of himself “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door for the sheep.”  By that – he was saying that just as the entrance to the sheepfold is via the “door / gate” of the shepherd – so too it is through him – and only him – that we have access to God – it is through Jesus that we come into the sheepfold of God – a place of provision and security and a place of peace.  In a later part of John’s Gospel, it is recorded that Jesus said

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

(John 14 : 6)

What does it mean for us – for followers of Jesus today – to be in the sheepfold – to be protected by the shepherd ?  It is certainly not anything suggesting privilege and status about being in the sheepfold – nor is it about exclusion of others.  In a later verse of the chapter, it is noted that Jesus said :

“I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.  I must bring them also and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock – one shepherd”    (John 10 : 16)

The purpose of the gate / door – indeed of the shepherd – is not to keep other sheep out  – but is to protect all the sheep against harm and danger – against everything that threatens their security and wellbeing.

In our world today – there are many metaphorical “thieves and bandits” which endanger the sheep of God’s flock – which would lead them further away from God – and from the abundance of life which the Good Shepherd promises.

As today’s Scripture passage dwells in our thoughts – let us ponder on our own reaction to it 

are we content with only resting in the security of being inside the sheepfold ?

or do we know that God is calling us to be an important part of the construction of the sheepfold

the “doors” and the “gates”

through which the flock enter the sheepfold

but which also protect and guide the flock of his pastures ?

AMEN

Prayers for Others & Lord’s Prayer 

Let us pray

Jesus – the Good Shepherd

     thank you that you care for us – and for all the sheep and lambs of your flock

     just as the shepherd in the hills protected his sheep by himself being  the door of the fold

     just as the shepherd put his own life in danger to protect  his flock

     thank you that you laid down your life to save us – the people of your flock

We bring our prayers for others – and instead of doing so in lots of words

we offer our prayers in mental pictures

     of people working in the health services

          of people under their professional and loving care

     of people working in the care services

          of people for whom they care

     of people working to keep the nation fed

          of customers as they shop

     of people who work in varied ways to support others with varied needs

          of people who are vulnerable, anxious, bereaved, confused , alone

of people who bear weighty responsibilities in government and decision making – in research and advisory roles

     of those whose role is to communicate effectively – to develop and aid understanding

of people who work  to find ways to maintain funding for valuable chartable services

     of the users of these services, often disadvantaged by service contraction due to shortage of resources

There will be many others Lord – whom we personally want to remember before you

     some people whom we don’t know personally

     others in our families and our friends whom we do know and love most dearly

     and so we picture them  all in our mind’s eye and seek your blessing on them

As we bring these silent prayers – we dare to ask for your blessing on our own lives

     that we and all for whom we have prayed might be forever held in your love and care

These prayers we bring in Jesus’ name and we continue to pray in his words – as we say

            Our Father, who art in Heaven : hallowed be Thy name

thy kingdom come : thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day, our daily bread and forgive us our debts : as we forgive our debtors

and lead us not into temptation : but deliver us from evil

For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory : for ever.

AMEN

Praise

Our closing hymn is “My hope is built on nothing less”

1   My hope is built on nothing less – than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
no merit of my own I claim – but wholly trust in Jesus’ name.

          On Christ, the solid rock, I stand,
          all other ground is sinking sand.

2   When weary in this earthly race – I rest on his unchanging grace;
 in every wild and stormy gale – my anchor holds and will not fail.

            On Christ, the solid rock, I stand,
            all other ground is sinking sand.

3   His vow, his covenant and blood – are my defence against the flood;
when earthly hopes are swept away – he will uphold me on that day.

            On Christ, the solid rock, I stand,
            all other ground is sinking sand.

4   When the last trumpet’s voice shall sound – O may I then in him be found!
clothed in his righteousness alone -faultless to stand before his throne.

            On Christ, the solid rock, I stand,

             all other ground is sinking sand.

Blessing

The shepherd loves the sheep

the shepherd feeds the sheep

the shepherd protects the sheep

so be assured of and rest in the love and care of the Good Shepherd

and may the blessing of Almighty God

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

be with us all – and with all for whom we have prayed

whether they be in this world or in the next

now and always

AMEN