Messy Church 3rd May 2020

Good morning and welcome to todays online service, an especially big welcome to anyone who might be new to St. Peter’s church and joining us today and also anyone who is joining us online for the first time today. Welcome everyone and thank you for joining us to share in this service of worship, prayer and praise.

Let’s open with prayer

Almighty and loving God, although we are not with each other in person this morning, we gather in spirit from our homes to praise and worship your holy name. May your presence we with us all wherever in the world we might be, bringing us strength, peace and hope in our lives at a time when many need it so very much. Give us such confidence in the power of your love, your grace and your mercy that, even where we are suffering, afraid or lonely, we can put our whole trust in you. Through our saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Song and reading Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

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.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Gospel reading John 10:1-15

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

“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. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls he own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognise a strangers voice”.

Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Talk

When Jesus was here on earth he told people he was God’s son, he performed miracles, he spoke with authority, he served and loved everyone. Naturally people around him had questions, who is this Jesus? How does he do these things?

And Jesus would try and explain to people who he was, often using ‘I AM’ statements, such as

 I AM the bread of life, I AM the light of the world,

I AM the way, the truth and the life, I AM the true vine

and also the I AM’s  that we have heard about in our bible reading today

‘I AM’ the good shepherd and ‘I AM’ the door. 

All of these statements have a deeper meaning and now we will  look a bit deeper into what Jesus meant when he said ‘I am the good shepherd’.

Now when we think of a shepherd we probably form a picture in our minds of a man, or woman, on a hill with their flock of sheep around them. But what does it mean that Jesus is ‘the good shepherd’? It doesn’t just mean that he liked spending time with sheep. In fact, being a shepherd requires much more responsibility than just wandering about with some nearby sheep, A shepherd has to take his job very seriously. Sheep need to be cared for, you can’t just leave them in a field by themselves eating grass. Sheep are valuable, they provide food, milk and clothing. So a shepherd needs to provide for and protect their sheep. And when Jesus said ‘I am the good shepherd', he was saying that he provides for us and protects us.

The shepherd gets to know his sheep and the sheep know their shepherd.

The shepherd knows when they are thirsty, and will guide them to water.

The shepherd knows when they get hurt and he would help them to get better.

The shepherd knows when the sheep are hungry and he leads them to another field where they can graze.

Not only does he lead them to where they need to be, but he also protects them.

A sheep might wander to a place of danger and the shepherd would stop them and bring them back to safety.

A wolf might approach the flock and the shepherd would step in the way to protect his sheep. He would put himself in harms way to protect his sheep.

Sheep know their shepherds voice and the shepherd would call his sheep and the sheep would follow.

If the sheep were scared the shepherd would speak to calm them. The sheep know their shepherds voice.

As we read further through John 10, in verses 14 and 15 Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and my sheep know me. They know me just as the father knows me and I know the father. And I give my life for the sheep.”

Just as the shepherd guides his sheep, provides for his sheep and puts himself in harms way to protect his sheep, so Jesus does all those things for us. Jesus cares for each one of us, he knows each one of us and he loves each one of us.

And just as sheep need a shepherd, we need Jesus to lead us and protect us.

Jesus is the good shepherd and he gave his life for us, we can ask and he will guide us in all that we do, when we are scared or anxious we can call out to him and he will hear us. Jesus cares for us, he knows us and he loves us. Amen

 

The Lords Prayer

 

Prayer of blessing

 

We know the familiar phrase keep calm and carry on but sometimes the reality of doing just that, by ourselves, is just not that easy. You might be familiar with the story of the disciples in the boat from Mark chapter 4 in the bible. The disciples were anxious and afraid, overwhelmed even, as the waves broke over the boat so that it was nearly swamped. And yet, Jesus was there, present with them, in the boat. When they called on him, he responded to their need. Now I think we have probably all heard it said, or said it ourselves at least once over the last few weeks, “We are all in the same boat”. I was reminded recently that actually we are probably all in very different boats, but we are in the same storm. Even in the midst of THIS storm that we find ourselves in at the moment, Jesus’ presence is with us. Through prayer we can cast our anxieties onto him and we can experience his peace.

We can read in Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

In that prayer what can we be thankful for this week? What has been difficult? Where have you seen God at work? What issue do you have that you can turn over to him in prayer?

Almighty God. Our guide through this life. Our hope and our strength, our comfort, our protector. Help us all through our current and very individual worries we ask, as we put our faith in you at this time and always. Amen.

 


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