I am the Good Shepherd

St Thomas of Canterbury, Wilbury

4th Sunday of Easter

May 3rd, 2020

 

 

 

 

Welcome and introduction by Revd Don Dowling, our celebrant

Our Preacher is the Rev Paul Lanham

 

I trust this technology in worship will work for you! The text is downloadable and printable so you should be able is access this either on your computer or laptop or from a printed copy. If it helps a small table with a candle/cross might help you with focus. If you wish during the communion to have a piece of bread and a glass each with wine/grape juice. Please have these ready in advance. It might help to remind you that we are celebrating with millions of other Christians even if most of us are behind “locked doors”.

 

The service includes preparation with confession, absolution and the collect; then comes the gospel reading, a short address and an affirmation of faith; this will be followed by an invitation to prayer followed by silence.

I will then set up the table, say the Peace and then an Easter Eucharistic prayer followed by the Lord’s Prayer the breaking of bread and an invitation to communion after we will say a prayer of thanksgiving and service will end with a blessing.

The Service

Opening Hymn – For the healing of the nations

For the healing of the nations,
Lord, we pray with one accord,
for a just and equal sharing
of the things that earth affords.
To a life of love in action
help us rise and pledge our word.Lead us forward into freedom,
from despair your world release,
that, redeemed from war and hatred,
all may come and go in peace.
Show us how through care and goodness
fear will die and hope increase.
All that kills abundant living,
let it from the earth be banned:
pride of status, race or schooling,
dogmas that obscure your plan.
In our common quest for justice
may we hallow brief life’s span.You, Creator God, have written
your great name on humankind;
for our growing in your likeness
bring the life of Christ to mind;
that by our response and service
earth its destiny may find.

 

Greeting and Welcome

 

Alleluia, Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

 

Easter Anthems

Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us:

so let us celebrate the feast,

 

not with the old leaven of corruption and wickedness:

but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

 

Christ once raised from the dead dies no more:

death has no more dominion over him.

 

In dying, he died to sin once and for all:

in living he lives to God.

 

See yourselves therefore as dead to sin:

and alive to God in Jesus Christ our Lord.


Christ has been raised from the dead:

the first fruits of those who sleep.

 

For as by man came death:

by man has come also the resurrection of the dead;

 

for as in Adam all die:

even so in Christ shall all be made alive

 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now

and shall be forever. Amen

Confession

Let us confess our sins to Almighty God

(A time for reflection)

 

Absolution

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners

Hear then the word of grace and the assurance of pardon

Your sins are forgiven for his sake.

Collect

Almighty God
whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life;
raise us, who trust in him,
from the death of sin to the life of righteousness,
that we may seek those things which are above,
where he reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen

 

First Reading: Acts 2.42–47

 

Many were baptized and were added to the community. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home

and ate their food with glad and generous hearts,

47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

 

This is the word of the Lord

Thanks be to God

Psalm 23

 

 

R The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters. R

3 He revives my soul and guides me along right pathways for his name’s sake. 4 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

5 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.

6 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

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be for ever. AMEN.

 

New Testament: 1 Peter 2.19–25

Brothers and sisters: 19 It is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. 20 If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. 22 ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ 23 When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness;

by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

This is the Word of the Lord

Thanks be to God

 

Gospel Hymn; The God of love my Shepherd is,

 

The God of love my Shepherd is,
and he that doth me feed;
while he is mine and I am his,
what can I want or need?

He leads me to the tender grass,
where I both feed and rest;
then to the streams that gently pass,
in both I have the best.

Or if I stray, he doth convert,
and bring my mind in frame,
and all this not for my desert,
but for his holy Name.

Yea, in death’s shady black abode
well may I walk, not fear;
for thou art with me, and thy rod
to guide, thy staff to bear.

Surely thy sweet and wondrous love
shall measure all my days;
and as it never shall remove
so neither shall my praise.

 

Hear the GOSPEL of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to John 10,1-10

Glory to you, O Lord

 

Jesus said to the Pharisees: 1 ‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 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 hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’

6 Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go 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.’

This is the Gospel of the Lord

Praise to you, O Christ

 

Sermon – Revd. Paul Lanham

 

 

Psalm 23 v. 1. The Lord is my Shepherd

The picture of the shepherd lay at the very heart of Israel’s life. Today’s psalm reflects how God’s relationship with His people was seen in these terms and we find it again and again throughout the Old Testament; the people are God’s and He will lead them and protect them as long as they do not stray from Him. Jesus took this same idea and some of His illustrations reflect it. So He speaks of Himself as The Good Shepherd in the passage that follows today’s Gospel reading. Furthermore by saying that ‘I AM the Good Shepherd’ He was claiming by implication to be God’s Son; we find this phrase ‘I am’ several times in John’s Gospel and they all relates to such claims. He, God’s Son is the Good Shepherd, just as He is the light of the world, and so on.

But it lies deeper than this. Israel was a rural country and sheep with their shepherds were everywhere; it was one of the most common sights in the country. So when Jesus spoke of sheep and shepherds He was using a picture from everyday life. This was typical, for many of the parables take the form of spiritual lessons taken from things that were part of the lives of the man in the street. So we read of looking for lost sheep and lost coins – the notorious road from Jerusalem to Jericho – absentee landlords and rogue servants – sowing and harvesting – and so on. Were He on earth today I sometimes wonder in my naughtier moments what illustrations He might use as a basis for parables? Driving on the M1 or M25 perhaps (a variation on the Good Samaritan parable!) – the tedium of airports – a lost passport just before going on holiday – stuck in a traffic jam on the way to an important appointment – celebrating a family event – the daily commute or the weekly shop – add your own example. Jesus started where people were. He was a man of the people and He drew on the everyday experiences of everyday people – which of course He was before He began His ministry. So He drew faith into the realm of normal human existence rather than being outside it.

It is pure luck that this psalm and today’s Gospel are appointed for this Sunday of all Sundays, lying as it does during the coronavirus crisis; lessons in the Church of England are fixed on a three year cycle (rather than chosen at random) and these have come on this day this year. Believe it or not my wife, Judy, and I deliver the Hitchin Comet every week around part of the village where we live. Wherever we go these days we find the famous rainbow in windows or even chalked on the pavement, often by children. Everywhere there is this slogan ‘You are not alone’, again often written by children. Our village care scheme is thriving, offering help to anyone who needs it. On a personal level we (as senior citizens!) have been offered endless help by neighbours and friends. Above all we had enormous sympathy and help from the Accident & Emergency team at Bedford Hospital last Sunday after Judy had dislocated her shoulder in a freak fall – then from people who have discovered about it, several from this church. If anything good comes out of this crisis it should take two forms. One is that this spirit of mutual support and care should continue when it is all over. The other is that we should never ever again take for granted the skill and compassion and utter dedication of the medical profession, especially those serving in hospitals.

You are not alone. We do not know what the future holds for ourselves or our country. In the short term we do not know for certain whether we or our loved ones will be touched by this virus. We do not know how the next few days or the next few weeks will turn out, how life will be and what the new normality will be. Even closer to home, we do not know when we will be allowed to worship together again in this church; I am sure I am not the only person who is missing being in church with you and with the other congregations who I am honoured to serve. Then of course we can have no idea of the long term economic and social impact of what has struck us to suddenly and tragically and what the effect on us will be. The future has seldom been more uncertain than it is at present.

But I am absolutely certain of one thing. It is that ‘You are not alone’. Everyone is going through the same kind of experience; nobody is exempt because this is a worldwide thing. Other people care about you personally as you read this. I doubt if there has been a time since the end of the 2nd World War (another related picture but for next Sunday!) when the nation has been so united and so caring about one another. Amen

 

The Prayers by Eddie Guy (read by Shena)

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come .. will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”

  (Romans 8:38-39)

Dear God, you are our refuge and stronghold. In these times of isolation, apart from loved ones, distant from friends, away from neighbours, we thank you that there is nothing that is able to separate us from your love.

Under the shadow of your mercy, sustain and support the lonely, anxious and fearful.

Lift up all who are brought low. Bring comfort and assurance to your people.

In the darkness of the present times, continue to be our light.

We pray for those who are guiding our nation at this time and shaping national policies that they make wise decisions

Restoring and healing God, Protect all who continue to work to provide the necessities of life.

In particular, care for all the doctors and nurses who are putting the welfare of others before their own, who are working tirelessly to heal and restore those who are ill, reassuring the anxious and vulnerable, and comforting the concerned and bereaved. Be their guide, strength, wisdom and hope.

Dear Lord, bless our local community that our neighbourhoods may be places of trust and friendship where all are known and cared for. We pray for every member of the congregation of St Thomas’.

We give thanks for all the local clergy, whose efforts are helping to sustain our faith at this time of trial.

And we pray for our new vicar, Rev Jess McLaren and hope she will soon be able to join and lead us in building your Kingdom.

We commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray, to the mercy and protection of God.

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

The Peace

The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples saying:

Peace be with you.

Then they were glad when they saw the Lord

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And also with you.

.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPPZt-j2IPI

 

Offertory hymn, Father, hear the prayer we offer:

 

Father, hear the prayer we offer:
not for ease that prayer shall be,
but for strength, that we may ever
live our lives courageously.

Not for ever in green pastures
do we ask our way to be ;
but the steep and rugged pathway
may we tread rejoicingly.

Not forever by still waters
would we idly rest and stay;
but would smite the living fountains
from the rocks along our way.

Be our strength in hours of weakness,
in our wanderings be our Guide;
through endeavour, failure, danger,
Saviour, be thou at our side.

 

 

Affirmation of Faith

Do you believe and trust in God the Father, source of all being in life, the one for whom we exist

We believe and trust in him

Do you believe and trust in God the Son, who took our human nature, died for us and rose again

We believe and trust in him

Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God, and makes Christ known in the world

We believe and trust in him

This is the faith of the Church. We believe and trust in one God, Father,Son and Holy Spirit

Eucharistic Prayer

The Lord is here

His Spirit is with us.

Lift up your hearts

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God

It is indeed right, our duty and our joy,
always and everywhere to give you thanks
almighty and eternal Father,
and in these days of Easter
to celebrate with joyful hearts
the memory of your wonderful works.
For by the mystery of his passion
Jesus Christ your risen Son,
has conquered the powers of death and hell
and restored in men and women the image of your glory.
He has placed us once more in paradise
and opened to them the gate of life eternal.
And so in the joy of this Passover,
earth and heaven resound with gladness,
while angels and archangels and the powers of all creation
sing for ever the hymn of your glory:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord
Hosanna in the highest.

 

Accept our praises, heavenly Father
through your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ,
and as we follow his example and obey his command,
grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit
these gifts of bread and wine
may be to us his body and his blood;

who in the same night he was betrayed,
took bread, and gave you thanks;
he broke it and gave it to this disciples saying:
Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of me.

In the same way after supper, he took the cup,
and gave you thanks saying:
Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins;
Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me.

 

Therefore heavenly Father,
we remember his offering of himself
made once for all upon the cross;
we look for the coming of your kingdom,
and with this bread and this cup
we make the memorial of Christ your Son our Lord,

 

Great is the mystery of faith:

Christ has died:
Christ is risen:
Christ will come again.

 

Accept through him our great high priest;
this our sacrifice of thanks and praise,
and as we eat and drink these gifts
in the presence of your divine majesty,
renew us by your Spirit,
inspire us with your love
and unite us in the body of your Son
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Through him, and with him, and in him,
In the unity of the Holy Spirit,
with all who stand before you in earth and heaven,
we worship you Father almighty in songs of everlasting praise. Amen

Pause for reflection 

The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

Breaking of the Bread

We break this bread
to share in the body of Christ.

Though we are many, we are one body,
because we all share in one bread.
 

Giving of Communion

Draw near with faith.
Receive the body of our Lord Jesus Christ
which he gave for you,
and his blood which he shed for you.
Eat and drink
in remembrance that he died for you, and feed on him in your hearts
by faith with thanksgiving.

 

The body of Christ Amen

The blood of Christ Amen

 

Closing Prayer and Dismissal 

Living God,
May we open the doors of our lives
and be people of faith.
May we open the doors of our hearts
and be people of compassion,
that we may witness to your love and your generosity.
In Jesus’ name. Amen
.                      

Final Hymn At the name of Jesus

(A couple of verses played by our very own Kevin)

At the name of Jesus
every knee shall bow,
every tongue confess him
King of Glory now.
‘Tis the Father’s pleasure
we should call him Lord,
who from the beginning
was the mighty Word:

Mighty and mysterious
in the highest height,
God from everlasting
very light of light:
in the Father’s bosom
with the Spirit blest,1
love, in love eternal,
rest, in perfect rest.

Humbled for a season,
to receive a name
from the lips of sinners
unto whom he came,
faithfully he bore it
spotless to the last,
brought it back victorious
when from death he passed.2

Bore it up triumphant
with its human light,
through all ranks of creatures
to the central height,
to the throne of Godhead,
to the Father’s breast;
filled it with the glory
of that perfect rest.

In your hearts enthrone him;
there let him subdue
all that is not holy,
all that is not true:
crown him as your captain
in temptation’s hour;
let his will enfold you
in its light and power.4

Brothers, this Lord Jesus5
shall return again,
with his Father’s glory,
with his angel train;
for all wreaths of empire
meet upon his brow,
and our hearts confess him
King of Glory now.

 

Blessing and Dismissal

The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you now and always. Amen

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord. In the name of Christ, Amen

 

Copyright:  Some of this material is copyright Common worship Archbishop’s Council ©2000

Some of the text is copyright © 2015 Archbishop’s Council and Roots for Churches Ltd

© Roots for Churches Ltd adapted

 

Thought for the week:

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me, Thy rod and staff comfort me.

 

Notices

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Prayers for the week

 

The Birches

Cowslip Hill

Hawthorn Hill

Wheat Hill

Redhoods Way east

Rowan Crescent

Bedford Road

Corner Close

Icknield Green

 

Special topics

Local schools, pupils and staff

Young people and youth organisation

Users of our facilities

 

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Prayer Hotline

Have you tried the Archbishop’s Daily Hope phone line 0800 804 8044, for music, prayers and reflections? If not, try it! It’s free and inspiring!

PLANNED GIVING

Please keep up your planned giving because we need to maintain our cashflow. Offertory envelopes can be dropped in, to Sylvia, Shena or Peter, but we are trying to avoid handling cash if possible. Could you consider giving by occasional cheque, or setting up a standing order or direct debit? You could give by BACS. Our account is Sort Code 40-52-40, Account number 00005474

The church and Wilbury Hall hires have ceased, so that income stream is gone! If you could spare a bit more, that would be great!

 

FOOD BANK

Thank you for your support. In the current circumstances, the Foodbank is no longer able to accept food donations, and are instead giving vouchers to their clients to spend in supermarkets. If you would like to make a cash donation, please go to

Donate money

 

More general help

You could give online to nationalemergenciestrust.org.uk, who have launched an appeal for all those affected financially by the Coronavirus

 

Healthy Hub Covid-19 support line 01462 474111

NHDC can be contacted for guidance and support, and health and wellbeing advice
or email healthyhub@north-herts.gov.uk
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