This is a virtual service for the 4th Sunday of Easter – 03 May 2020.
Below, you will find audio of Rev. Geoff McKee’s sermon, the Scriptures from the Lectionary for this week (including the reading from John 10 which is the basis of the sermon), prayers and some music (Stuart Townend’s lovely version of The Lord’s My Shepherd – Psalm 23).
Acts 2:42-47 (New International Version)
The Fellowship of the Believers
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
A psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
1 Peter 2:19-25
19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
22 “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
The Good Shepherd and His Sheep
10 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
NOTE: The above audio is in mp3 format and is also downloadable, if you wish to listen at a time when you may not have a reliable internet connection. Other devices are available but, on a PC, for example, if you right-click on the 3 vertical dots at the right side of the audio player, the drop-down menu should offer the option to “Save as…”
Call to Worship and Prayers
Acknowledge that the Lord is God; he made us, and we are his, his own people, the flock which he shepherds. (Psalm 100:3)
Lord Jesus Christ, you are our Saviour and king, our Master and friend, our Shepherd and guide. Wherever we go, you are with us. Wherever we stray, you seek us out. Whenever we call, you hear us. You are our promise and our hope, our place of rest and peace, our security and our sureness. Whoever we are, you accept us. Whatever we do, you love us. Whenever we fall, you lift us up.
Lord God, we draw near to one another in worship from different places, different lives, different situations, with different concerns and different dreams. Yet we draw near as one, a people of shared faith in a God who shared all. And so we praise you, Lord Jesus, that you have risen from the dead to fulfil your promise to all creation; we praise you that you have gifted us your spirit as a companion and guide. We praise you that you have
chosen us as your people to build your kingdom here on earth.
Gracious God our path in life does not always lead us into quiet, calm places of caring and compassion for others. Our journey often takes us off the beaten track and into the difficult terrain of selfishness and anger. Our progress is often slowed by fear and anxiety. Forgive us our many weaknesses and sins this day. Remain at our side, Lord, to comfort and provide, reminding us of your grace and love.
And so we praise You, Lord, that you bless us anew each day. That you open doors to fresh opportunities and that you lead us by the hand to a place we can call home. Take us forward, refreshed in our journey with you and with one another, that we might love You more and follow You more closely. In Jesus’ name.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Lord, you are our shepherd. We thank you that you give us everything we need. You offer us rest and refreshment through your Word. You keep us on the straight and narrow when we are prone to stray. We thank you that when we are afraid we can trust you.
We pray for all who are involved in leading and planning during this time of crisis. We pray for those trying to chart a way forward; for those responsible for securing medical and food supplies. May all know your guidance and wisdom.
We pray for the most vulnerable; for those who are isolating; for those who feel most exposed by this crisis. We ask for all to experience the true reality of your presence where fear is ultimately defeated.
We remember NHS staff, carers, cleaners and essential workers. We remember those who continue to work on the frontline. We pray for those who are uncertain of the future and worry about employment.
We pray that in times of trouble we might experience a deeper relationship of trust in you.
We remember those who have died this week and all who mourn them. May all find solace in your presence, loving Father, for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us to pray…
The Lord’s Prayer
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,