Worship for Sunday 3rd May

Call to worship:

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.” (Psalm 95:6-7)


Hymn: The King of love my shepherd is (StF 479)

If you have access to the Internet, watch and sing along

The King of love my shepherd is, 

whose goodness faileth never. 

I nothing lack if I am his, 

and he is mine forever.


Where streams of living water flow, 

my ransomed soul he leadeth; 

and where the verdant pastures grow, 

with food celestial feedeth.


Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed, 

but yet in love he sought me; 

and on his shoulder gently laid, 

and home, rejoicing, brought me.


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.


Thou spreadst a table in my sight; 

thy unction grace bestoweth; 

and oh, what transport of delight 

from thy pure chalice floweth!


And so through all the length of days, 

thy goodness faileth never; 

Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise 

within thy house forever.



To the one who sits above the circle of the earth:

To the one who stretches out the heavens like a curtain:

To the one who spreads out a shelter for us to live in:

We offer thanks and praise.


To the one who can overturn the rulers and powers:

To the one who calls us each by name:

To the everlasting God, Creator of the earth:

We offer thanks and praise.


To the one who strengthens the powerless:

To the one who helps us soar on wings like eagles:

We offer thanks and praise.


Creator God, accept our thanks and praise.


(from The Weaver, the Word and Wisdom, Michaela Youngson)


Acts 2:42-47 (NRSVA)

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles.  All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.  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, 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.


John 10:1-10 (NRSVA)

‘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.  The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’  Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.


So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.


Reflection 1

So what’s it like, being a sheep?

Well, let me tell you. It’s not all sunny skies and sweet smelling grass. Luscious tasty grass can be hard to find if we’ve been in the same place for a while. Some days there’s a real downpour and the only shelter we can get is under a hedge. Only a newborn looks like those children’s pictures, clean and fluffy. Not at all like a snowy white cloud, or a fluffy cotton wool ball. We don’t look like a white pom pom either with stuck on eyes and ears! We more resemble a manky, grey, dirty-looking bedraggled and tangled mess, and smelly with it.   And just so you know, the hillside might look nice from a distance, but there are lots of nooks and crannies you can’t see from a way off, and our eyes don’t see well right in front of us and it’s easy to fall in one and get stuck in. There are other dangers too, like the wild animals that scare us and make us scatter, or the stranger that tries to take one of us away. That’s life on a hill, it can be bleak and lonely, cold and dangerous.

And that’s why I really like it when the shepherd is with us. He moves us to fresh pasture where the grass is sweeter so we have fresh food, and he finds us fresh water too. If one of us does fall down a crevice he rescues us, often risking falling himself. If one of us wanders off the path, he uses his shepherd’s crook to bring us back on the right track. He gives us freedom and security, watching over us whether we’re scattered or gathered, providing shelter to keep us safe and protect us from the wolves and thieves trying to steal us away.   He even lies down at night across the opening of our pen to protect us. We would be lost without him.

He must love us to spend his days and nights out on the hillside with us in all weathers. He doesn’t think we’re stupid, but he knows us so well he can even tell us apart and gives each of us our own name! And we can recognise him too.   There’s something in his voice – the way he calls us, the tone he uses, that gives us confidence to trust him and follow him. Completely.


Psalm 23

to listen to: The Lord’s my shepherd (Townend) 

or to read –

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

    He makes me lie down in green pastures;

he leads me beside still waters;

    he restores my soul.

He leads me in right paths

    for his name’s sake.


Even though I walk through the darkest valley,

    I 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 goodness and mercy shall follow me

    all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

    my whole life long.


Reflection 2

It’s not easy, in this current climate, being a shepherd to the sheep of Christ’s flock. To be honest, whether we are gathered or scattered, it takes time and effort and can be challenging at the best of times, never mind at the worst of times.   But as we all minister to each other, by whatever means we have to hand, whether by email or snail mail, by WhatsApp, Messenger or good old-fashioned pen and paper, each one of us can be, and must be, a shepherd to the flock of Christ as we continue to stay at home.   There are some anxious people out there – those for whom ‘home’ is not a safe haven as the increased instances of abuse prove; while shelves in supermarkets are no longer bare, there are still shortages of some things, and some are asking if this is ‘the end’ (but no-one has the answer to that, only God). Some of this is born out of fear, but there is also such a great generosity of spirit is taking place, of volunteers, of sharing, of people actually seeking out God, as apparently sales of bibles have increased too.

Was the early church’s reaction born out of fear, or out of generosity? To quote Tom Wright, “The so-called primitive communism of the early Church had little to do … with a belief that the world was coming to an end, and a great deal to do with the sense of fulfilment: the world of debt, the world of injustice, had come to an end on Calvary, and they were modelling the new world of forgiveness. They weren’t so concerned with the last days of the old world as with the first days of the new one.”

We don’t know what this world will look like after Coronavirus. There will still be debt, and injustice, but from media reports the Earth as a planet is recovering in all sorts of ways while we say home. Let’s pray that when it is safe, eventually, to venture outside, that the spirit of generosity continues in the first and following days of our new world.


Hymn: How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds (StF 322)

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear!

It soothes our sorrows, heals our wounds, and drives away our fear.


It makes the wounded spirit whole and calms the troubled breast;

’tis manner to the hungry soul, and to the weary, rest.


Dear name, the rock on which I build, my shield and hiding-place,

my never-failing treasury, filled with boundless stores of grace!


Jesus my shepherd, brother, friend, my prophet, priest and king,

my Lord, my life, my way, my end, accept the praise I bring.


Weak is the effort of my heart, and cold my warmest thought;

but when I see thee as thou art, I’ll praise thee as I ought.


Till then I would they love proclaim with every fleeting breath;

and may the music of thy name refresh my soul in death.

John Newton


Prayers for others:

Loving and Gracious God,

We have heard in your Word that you care for us as a shepherd cares for the sheep, held safe in his loving arms.


At this moment in time we may feel anything but safe as the invisible and unexpected mugger called Coronavirus is rampant throughout the world.


And so we pray for those trying to find a vaccine, and bring before you the World Health Organisation, governments and scientists trying to plot a safe path for us to follow through this global pandemic. We pray for all medical staff who are caring for the sick and dying.


We pray for those who are hungry, who are reliant on foodbanks, and bring before you all those who deliver food to the vulnerable. We pray for a fairer sharing of the earth’s resources that no-one should suffer hunger.


We pray for those who are entangled in the briars of life and who struggle to get free, and bring before you those with money problems or in abusive relationships, where safety is hard to find. We pray for all those engaged in pastoral work, who listen to and pray for those in need.


In all our prayers, we remember Jesus Christ, our gatekeeper, who watches over our going out and our coming in, and may in our turn tend and feed his sheep. In his name we pray. Amen.


Hymn : For the healing of the nations (StF 696)

If you have access to the Internet, watch and sing along

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.

Fred Kaan



May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen

(Hebrews 13:20-21)