Worship for Sunday 30th April 2023, by Deacon Pru Cahill

Our theme this week is The Good Shepherd. We read Chapter 10 of John’s gospel in which Jesus describes himself as the shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.

Today we acknowledge our longing for security, nurture, refreshment and guidance. Christ, the Good Shepherd, offers this to all who follow him; and he asks us, his hands and feet today, to love and nurture his people.

Prayer of Approach

Lord God, great king above all gods,
in your hand are the depths of the earth;
and the heights of the mountains.
You made the sea,
your hands formed the dry land.
Yet you are our God,
and we are your people,
the sheep of your hand.
You seek the lost,
and bring back those who have strayed;
you bind up the injured
and strengthen the weak.
Come, let us worship and bow down:
let us kneel before the Lord our maker.

StF 293        All Heaven Declares

All Heaven declares
The glory of the risen Lord
Who can compare
With the beauty of the Lord

Forever he will be
The lamb upon the throne
I gladly bow to Thee
And worship him alone

I will proclaim
The glory of the risen Lord
Who once was slain
To reconcile man to God

Forever you will be
The lamb upon the throne
I gladly bow Thee

And worship you alone.

Noel Richards, Tricia Richards

Prayer of Adoration

For your presence in our lives,
great Shepherd of the sheep:
we praise and adore you.

For the security you offer us,
great Shepherd of the sheep:
we praise and adore you.

For your life that enriches our life,
great Shepherd of the sheep:
we praise and adore you.

For the sense of belonging,
great Shepherd of the sheep:
we praise and adore you.

For our place in your sheepfold,
great Shepherd of the sheep:
we praise and adore you. Amen.

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 trespasses

As we forgive those who trespass against us

And lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil

For thine is the kingdom

The power, and the glory

For ever and ever. Amen.


John 10: 1-10

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. 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 his 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 recognize a stranger’s 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. 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.

HP 42  O love of God, how strong and true,

O love of God, how strong and true,

Eternal and yet ever new;

Uncomprehended and unbought,

Beyond all knowledge and all thought!


O heavenly love, how precious still,

In days of weariness and ill,

In nights of pain and helplessness,

To heal, to comfort, and to bless!


O wide-embracing, wondrous love,

We read thee in the sky above;

We read thee in the earth below,

In seas that swell and streams that flow.


We read thee best in him who came

To bear for us the cross of shame,

Sent by the Father from on high,

Our life to live, our death to die.


We read thy power to bless and save

E’en in the darkness of the grave;

Still more in resurrection light

We read the fullness of thy might.


O love of God, our shield and stay

Through all the perils of our way;

Eternal love, in thee we rest,

For ever safe, for ever blest!

Horatius Bonar (1808-89)


Care for a flock of sheep was the illustration used by Jesus to demonstrate to his disciples and the listening Pharisees that he is the one leader, the one who can and does take care of his people in a way, to such a degree that no other leader can.

Shepherding was a key role, along with farming, fishing, carpentry and masonry, in those times. A shepherd roamed over a large area in much the same way as Bedouins today. Each night the shepherd would count the sheep into a fold, lying across the opening to become the door. 

Those listening would be very familiar of the role and challenges of being a shepherd of the contrast between the bad shepherds, as described by Ezekiel, who led the people into famine and destruction, and Jesus the good shepherd.

Then the question was, “who is the true leader and ruler of the people of God?

The question Jesus asks is: Who is leading us, whose voice are we listening to,

who has laid down their life so that we can live?

The Good Shepherd lays down his life

Some years ago I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, with others. One of our coach drivers was Jordanian and so we were treated to an insight of the Bedouin shepherd. Bedouins are known for roaming the desert areas with their sheep, looking for the best places for pasture and camping wherever they end up.

The Jordanian authorities had, a few years previously, had the good idea of creating simple brick buildings for the shepherds to use so that they could be warm and secure as their sheep stayed in the specially-made pens. What actually happened was that these Bedouin shepherds chose to put their sheep in these buildings and pitch their tents as they always had, but this time in the pens.

This seems to me to be a perfect illustration of a good shepherd – someone prepared to put their life on the line for the sake of the flock. 

Jesus is the only one whose life was given for all, right from the start. God sent his only Son so that whoever – any – all believe might have eternal life.

Three times in this passage Jesus says “I lay down my life for the sheep”. This laying down is for us. Jesus is the bridge between danger and safety and between earth and heaven.

The Good Shepherd knows his flock and they know his voice

Sheep have to listen to the shepherd’s voice in order to know where to go. Sheep have good sight inasmuch as they have a wide field of vision but they can’t see immediately in front of their noses. Because sheep were bred for their wool, not for meat, they lived for a good number of years and got used to hearing the shepherds voice. Despite this close relationship they still needed leading to the safe places and away from danger.

And that’s how I think it is for us, responding to the guiding and encouraging voice of the good shepherd who knows us, loves us and knows what we can do. Only Jesus provides the safe path to go.

Jesus the good shepherd knows us and wants the best for us.

The Good Shepherd has one flock

Those listening to Jesus were intended to understand that God’s flock included both Jews and non-Jews, and that Jesus mission would continue to search out the lost gentile sheep of Israel.

Unity is a theme across the New Testament. Jesus prays for his disciples and for those who belong to God that we may all be united. Not, putting up with each other, avoiding where we cannot agree but being united by faith, united, one flock with the purpose only of being led by the shepherd.

The Good Shepherd is the only one who

  • Lays down his life,
  • Knows his sheep,
  • Is the leader of one united flock


We do not know what it is like to be a sheep,
but know what it is like to need a shepherd,
a good shepherd, a gentle shepherd, a reliable shepherd.
We know what it is like to need protection
from the wolves of demands and expectations,
and from the even more vicious wolves that howl within us:
pride, fear, bitterness.
We know what it is
to long for the green pastures
of being cherished and valued,
and to be haunted by the fear
of the wilderness of despair
that all that we trusted and
put our faith in leads only to futility and death.

Lord Jesus,
We do not know what it is like to be a sheep.
But know you are our good shepherd
and rejoice as you carry us safely home in your arms
when we have got lost
and re-unite us with the flock of your great, great love. Amen.

StF 479 The King of love my shepherd is


The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am his
And he is mine for ever.

Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul he leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow
With food celestial feedeth.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
With thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.

And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
Within thy house for ever.

Henry William Baker (1821-77)

Prayers of intercession – using wool

Some of this wool is tangled and discoloured, while some is straightened and clean

We come to you in prayer, just as we are. Beneath the cleaned up exterior there are parts of us which are not pretty, parts of this world which are more than not pretty – they are ugly.

We pray for your intervention in those areas of your world which are struggling with loss of faith and low esteem.


Some of this wool is from sheep caught against fences and barbed wire, while some has been spun into yarn

We pray for those who feel they are at the edge, controlled, pushed to the limits of what is being asked of them.


Raw wool today is an almost worthless commodity

We pray for farmers and keepers of livestock struggling to make a fair and just living.

Help us to treat each other fairly, to make good choices which show love for you and for our neighbours.


Wool is used to keep us warm and feel safe

We pray for those who feel left out in the cold and we remember those who are homeless or rootless.

We pray your safekeeping on those we know who are in need, those ill at home or in hospital.


These pieces of wool come from different fields and different flocks

Help us in response to your love and care to play our part in bringing others into a knowledge of you.

We pray for the day when there will be one shepherd and one flock.


Jesus, good shepherd, bring us all into the one flock to be kept safe by you.

We ask these prayers in the name of Jesus.



StF  436 What Shall I Do My God to Love?

What shall I do my God to love,

my loving God to praise?

The length, and breadth, and height to prove,

and depth of sovereign grace?


Your sovereign grace to all extends,

immense and unconfined;

from age to age it never ends,

enfolds all humankind.


Throughout the world its breadth is known,

wide as infinity;

so wide it never passed by one,

or it had passed by me.


My trespass was grown up to heaven;

but far above the skies,

in Christ abundantly forgiven,

I see your mercies rise.


The depth of all-redeeming love,

what angel tongue can tell?

O may I to the utmost prove

the gift unspeakable.


Come quickly, gracious Lord, and take

possession of your own;

my longing heart vouchsafe to make

your everlasting throne.

                    Charles Wesley (1707-1788)


Closing Prayer

Mighty Father, protect us and enfold us,

Good Shepherd, guide us and revive us.

Holy Spirit, strengthen us and abide in us


And may the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon us and remain with us always. Amen.


(prayers adapted from rootsontheweb.com)