FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
Sunday, May 12th, 2019
Readings Acts 9:36-43; Psalm 23; Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:22-30
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.
Alt 1 Risen Christ, faithful shepherd of the flock: teach us to hear your voice and to follow your command, so that all your people may be gathered into one flock, to the glory of God, the Shepherd of Israel. Common Worship: Additional Collects (2004) alt.
Alt 2 Eternal God, from whose gentle hands none can snatch us away: give us faith to believe that we are known and loved with a passion strong enough to bring the whole world back to you; through Jesus Christ, who is one with you, the Source of life. Prayers for an Inclusive Church (2009)
Prayer over the Gifts
God of loving care, you spread before us the table of life, and give us the cup of salvation to drink. Keep us always in the fold of your Son Jesus Christ, our Saviour and our shepherd.
Prayer After Communion
God of steadfast love, watch over the Church redeemed by the blood of your Son. May we who share in these holy mysteries come safely to your eternal kingdom, where there is one flock and one shepherd. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the risen Lord.
8 am THE FIRST LESSON IS TAKEN FROM THE 9th CHAPTER OF THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES. BEGINNING AT THE 36th VERSE.
10 am A READING FROM THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.
Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.
8 am THE WORD OF THE LORD.
10 am HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCH.
THANKS BE TO GOD (ACTS 9:36-43)
REFRAIN The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters. R
He revives my soul and guides me along right pathways for his name’s sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. R
You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; you have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over.
Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. R
8 am THE EPISTLE LESSON IS TAKEN FROM THE 7TH CHAPTER OF THE REVELATION TO SAINT JOHN, BEGINNING AT THE 9TH VERSE.
10 am A READING FROM THE REVELATION TO SAINT JOHN.
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, singing, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
8 am THE WORD OF THE LORD.
10 am HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCH.
THANKS BE TO GOD (REVELATION 7:9-17)
8 am THE LORD BE WITH YOU. AND WITH THY SPIRIT.
THE HOLY GOSPEL IS WRITTEN IN THE 10th CHAPTER OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT JOHN, BEGINNING AT THE 22nd VERSE.
GLORY BE TO THEE, O LORD.
10 am THE LORD BE WITH YOU. AND ALSO WITH YOU.
THE HOLY GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO SAINT JOHN.
GLORY TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.
At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon.
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
THIS IS THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.
8 am PRAISE BE TO THEE, O CHRIST
10 AM PRAISE TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST. (JOHN 10:22-30)
Let us pray.
Holy God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer.
So, here we have Jesus describing himself with the job description of a Shepherd.
A Shepherd in Jesus’ time, as in ours likely, was not considered a high-status job. They were basically contract labour looking after someone else’s animals. They took all the financial risk for lost sheep and made a set price for returning with all the expected sheep at the end of the grazing season.
This is not who the people gathered for the The Feast of Dedication, today Hanukkah, once also called “Feast of the Maccabees”, would have been expecting as the much-promised Messiah.
They were waiting for – well they didn’t actually know what they were waiting for – which is why Jesus was such a surprise. They had heard the promises that the Messiah would be from the house of David and perhaps expected a great and powerful king or a warrior.
Suffice to say that very few were expecting a humble man like Jesus to be the Messiah. The few that were able to get over the initial shock of Jesus were able to bring themselves to follow the Shepherd, Jesus.
Jesus gathered his flock to himself throughout his ministry – he did not lose one person that the father had given him.
Jesus is not in the habit of loosing track of his sheep and even if they run away he has said that he will go looking for them.
He leaves us in the care of his followers – the other 99 – and goes looking for those who have gone astray.
Have you run away in the past?
What brought you back?
The Body of Christ, as Paul calls us, is the flock of Jesus. We are both shepherd and sheep – activated and motivated by the Holy Spirit to care for and lookout for each other.
Jesus, in today’s Gospel, assures us message that he knows us – it seems to me that the knowing meant by Jesus is not the mere knowing of acquaintances. Like the limitations of the English language we discussed last week in relation to the word Love – it is possible to “Know” in many ways that are all covered by the single English word.
It probably breaks down in much the same way – the knowing that God does is total and complete, it is tough to hide from the knowing of God. God is intimately acquainted with us and all our shortcomings – AND YET has promised, through Jesus his Well-beloved Son, not to lose track of any of us.
We are told that we will recognise the voice of God when we hear it. How does God speak to us today?
I believe that God speak in the voices of those around us crying out in need – in the opportunity to serve and in the service we render – God speaks.
I believe that God speaks in the groans and creaks of creation – the opportunity presented by a dawning Spring to revel again in the glory of all that surrounds us.
I believe that God speaks in the sacraments of the Church – we are united to each other and to God in baptism and the Holy Communion. The flock is pulled together and changed by the addition of another person. The flock is strengthened for service to God and the whole of creation in the breaking of bread together.
Is there a lost sheep out there that needs to be reminded that the Body of Christ is not giving up on them?
Is there a lamb out there that needs to be brought into the flock?
Is there a sheep that despite being in this very room feels isolated and alone?
The peace we exchange just before the Eucharist is meant to be more than just a handshake among friends – it is, in fact, meant to be a check-in. We are called to make sure we are at peace with our neighbours and ensure that we are all in the flock. We are meant to carry that peace with us the rest of the week and keep passing it.
We are promised that God will never leave us, though we might stray.
We are promised that we will not perish eternally.
We are promised that Jesus knows us deeply and keeps us in the palm of his hand.
So today, we are called to follow the Good Shepherd and to be the Body of Christ.
We are called to spread widely the love we have known.
As we gather today for the Eucharist – we are called to make peace, with God and with each other.
As we go forth from this place at the end of our time together – we are called to spread the love of God widely.
Let us pray.
Eternal God, from whose gentle hands none can snatch us away: give us faith to believe that we are known and loved with a passion strong enough to bring the whole world back to you; through Jesus Christ, who is one with you, the Source of life.