25th April 2021 – Easter 4
Readings – Acts 4:5-12, Psalm 23, John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18
On the 4th Sunday of Easter we move away from resurrection appearances and today’s gospel turns to one of the seven ‘I am’ sayings of John, “I am the Good Shepherd”. This Sunday is often called Good Shepherd Sunday. Just a reminder that the other ‘I am’ sayings are:-
I am the bread of life [Ch6]
I am the light of the world [Ch8]
I am the gate of the sheepfold [Ch10]
I am the resurrection and the life [Ch11]
I am the way, the truth and the life [Ch14]
I am the true vine [Ch15]
Let’s offer our worship on this Good Shepherd Sunday
Call to Worship
Jesus laid down his life out of love for us. With grateful hearts we welcome the risen Christ here in our midst.
Our God is like a shepherd, who watches over us.
Our God is like a parent, loving us and caring for us.
Our God is like a gardener helping us to grow.
Our God sets a table for us, even in front of our enemies.
Our God loves us no matter what.
Prayer of Confession
you care for us as a good shepherd cares for their sheep.
When we ignore your call,
When we get ourselves into trouble,
Help us to be more aware of your love for us,
and help us to love each other.
Assurance of Pardon
‘God so loved the world that he gave his only son,
that everyone who has faith in him may not perish
but have eternal life’
To all who repent and believe I declare in the name of the Father.
the Son and the Holy Spirit:
God grants us the forgiveness of our sins.
Thanks be to God
An appropriate hymn to read and sing - The Lord’s my shepherd, [R&S 679]
John’s gospel contains those seven ‘I am’ statements in which Jesus describes himself in metaphorical terms. “I am the good shepherd” is the focus of today’s lesson. The image of Jesus as a shepherd is rooted in the understanding of the crucifixion-resurrection so central to John’s gospel. Like a shepherd who willingly gives his life in the care of the flock, Jesus chose to give up his life in faithfulness to his task. “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” [v18]. Jesus’ death, like his resurrection, is seen as an exercise of the power and authority given him by God.
By identifying Jesus as the model of shepherding, John points to Ezekiel Ch34 in which God is described as the true shepherd to Israel. The ‘I am’ metaphor points to the identification of Jesus with God’s character. In the exercise of his faithful ministry Jesus fulfills God’s promises to God’s people. In dying and rising from death, Jesus reveals God’s will that all the world will live in loving relationship with God. By “abiding in God” as Jesus the shepherd does, Jesus’ disciples give witness to the love they have come to know.
Jesus’ passion was the suffering and death he endured because of his faithful witness to God. The passionate witness of Christ’s followers to the resurrected power and presence of Christ brought them into conflict with religious and political authorities. Only self-giving love for one another, even at the risk of death, could sustain their witness. That in itself was a sign of the Good Shepherd in their midst
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray to our heavenly Father, who listens to all our needs. We ask God to shine through us so that everyone who comes into our lives feels the presence of the Holy Spirit.
We pray for the Church throughout the world, and that we might listen for, and recognise, God’s call on our lives.
We pray for the world and its leaders, and for peace and reconciliation in countries that are torn apart by war, oppression and civil unrest.
We pray for ourselves, for strength when our resistance to temptation is low, when we do or say things we regret.
We pray for those who are lonely and forgotten, who are ill or suffering. We pray as well for those close to death and those who mourn loved ones..
Heavenly Father, accept our prayers and make us faithful in your service, that we your people may live in you and you in us.
We end with the Lord’s Prayer.
May the God of power and mercy nourish and protect us, keep us from wandering and direct us in the ways of love and peace.
And the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with us now and always