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Fourth Sunday of Easter : 30th April 2023

What follows is a worship service which, I pray, you can participate in at a time(s) that are convenient to you. This 'service' will take about forty five (45) minutes.

I pray that you will feel called to ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in this service.

The text that is in regular typeface (that is what you are reading at the moment) is to be read quietly, while the text that is in
bold face (like you are reading right now) is meant to be read aloud.

Opening Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we commence our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A Call To Worship:

We meet in the name of God,

Creator of the universe,

source of true humanity,

mother and father of all. Amen.

An Assurance of Forgiveness:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

The Absolution
00:00 / 00:18

The Sentence For Today (let us say aloud):

Shine forth from your throne upon the cherubim; restore us O God; show us the light of your face and we shall be saved.

The Special Prayer For Today (let us pray aloud):

Good shepherd of the sheep, by whom the lost are sought, and guided into the fold; feed us and we shall be satisfied, heal us and we shall be whole, and lead us that we may be with you, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, where you reign, one God forever. Amen.

Our first reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Acts 2:42-47
00:00 / 01:08

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

1 Peter 2:19-25
00:00 / 01:54

Gradual Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we raise out voices in praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A reading from the holy gospel according to Saint John
(click the 'play' button below to listen)

John 10:1-10
00:00 / 01:59

Listen to David speak to this gospel
(click the 'play' button below to listen)

The Good Shepherd
00:00 / 07:25

or, if you prefer, you can read the sermon, below:

Sermon Easter 4, 30th May 2023

May the words of my mouth and the meditations in our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer. <Amen>

My mother was once asked by a census-taker how many children she had. She replied, “Well, there’s Robert and Bryan and David …”. “Never mind the names,” the man interrupted, “Just give me the numbers”. My mother angrily replied, “They don’t have numbers, they all have names!”  

In our modern world we are often reduced to numbers and statistics, especially by government. Here in Aotearoa\New Zealand, our governments - national and local know us by our IRD numbers, driving licence numbers, Rates Valuation numbers, customer numbers and that “identity” is included in almost all of our lifetime records and transactions. We are no longer identities\people, we have become numbers.

Even our opinions are reflected by numbers in census and survey results. No wonder many people have an “identity crisis”.

Thankfully, our Saviour Jesus Christ is not like this. He knows each and every one of us by our names, just like a shepherd knows each and every one of the sheep in his flock.

Personal names and identities are of vital importance to God; therefore, it is not surprising that Jesus knows us by our names. After all, he is the Good Shepherd.

The parable of the good shepherd and his sheep is a beautiful reference to God’s intimate knowledge of all of us. A good shepherd looks after his flock and knows his sheep. Sheep seek the security of the flock and follow the lead of the shepherd. When several flocks are grazing together in a field, they are still able to distinguish the voice of their own shepherd and follow his movements, clap, voice, etc. Sheep need a leader not because they are dumb, but because they know they can’t go it alone. They need someone to lead and to guide them.

Jesus is our shepherd. People who truly belong to God listen to and believe in the words of Jesus. We must distinguish his voice from all the other voices we hear in our daily lives and follow Him in faith. Are you listening?

Only Jesus provides the security of an eternal kingdom.

No forces (other than our own human frailties) can snatch us out of His good care and keeping.

Christianity is about HOPE : because we often find ourselves (as mere humans) filled with doubts and fears about an earthly future where nothing is certain. <PAUSE>

Sheep can’t spend their entire lives in the sheepfold. After all, there’s no food in the sheepfold. The sheep might be comfortable and safe in the sheepfold, but the sheep must follow the shepherd out of the fold in order to find sustenance, in order to live. In the same way, Jesus calls out to us. He speaks the word that will bring us out of the places of comfort and safety that we have built around us. When we retreat to the safety and comfort of our own personal sheepfolds, we can’t fully enjoy the fullness of a life lived in God. Life is not the same as existence. Ease of life does not bring joy to life, and a less demanding life often means a less fulfilling life.

A good shepherd is also willing to lay down his life in order to protect his flock. Jesus as our shepherd willingly laid down his life so that those who believe in him would be redeemed and saved. As we continue our Easter journey, our walks along our roads, we are constantly reminded that Jesus gave his life for the great flock of humanity so that anyone who believes in him can become part of GOD’S FLOCK.

Jesus came to give us eternal life, offer us forgiveness, set us free from guilt and human failings, and give us a fuller, meaningful life here on earth.

We can live abundant lives because He provides forgiveness and hope.

In order to seek the gifts he offers us, we have to continually follow him and obey him without reservation. Don’t we all want to experience the joy of living and moving in grace-filled rhythm, in tune with something larger than ourselves? Don’t we all want the sense that we are living and moving in perfect rhythm to the song of the Christian life?

<PAUSE>

I mentioned, above, “God’s flock” … we can’t enter God’s flock by deeds, philosophy or ritual. We have to come through Jesus.

The voice of the good shepherd helps us when we have to make difficult choices. Choices about who we are, what we believe, what really matters to us, and what confidence and hope we have for the future.

The Good Shepherd whispers his love for us. Are you listening?

The Good Shepherd calls us into an ongoing relationship with him. Are you listening?

<PAUSE>

BUT REMEMBER - - - When we follow The Good Shepherd that does not mean that our life will be perfect and carefree. In fact, there will be times, when the storms of life might become stronger. Consider this; Jesus does not protect those he loves from bad things happening, but uses bad things to fulfil his plans for our lives.

In our times of trial, He is glad not because we are suffering, but through our trials we have the chance to grow in faith and display his glory.

That is the very purpose of our existence.


I offer these words in the name of our Lord and Saviour, our unchanging, eternal Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. AMEN.

I runga e te Ingoa o te Atua, te Matua, te Tama me te Wairua Tapu.
In the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit <AMEN>

Pause and Reflect

Just take a moment now to pause. Bow your head, close your eyes.
 

Allow these words of Holy Scripture and this interpretation of them today to speak to you.

An Affirmation of Our Faith

Let us affirm our faith by saying aloud, and together, "The Apostles Creed":

apostles_creed_pic02.jpg
Image by Allef Vinicius

... and now let us pray for the Church, the World, and Ourselves, giving thanks for God's goodness.An Affirmation of Our Faith

​Let us pray aloud, and together:

Lord Jesus, you are our Shepherd and we pray that You will protect us from all danger by keeping watch over us. Guide us towards green pastures where we can be nourished by Your word and lead us to pure still waters where we can be refreshed by your love.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Lord, You are our Shepherd and we pray for our church leaders that they too may care for and lead us by the example of Your earthly ministry.  We pray for all who seek to live out the life of The Risen Christ and ask you to guide them in their ministries.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Lord, You are our Shepherd and we pray for the world that was given to us as an inheritance, on the understanding that we would care for it as shepherds care for their flocks.  Teach us to look after our beautiful planet and care for it wisely, whilst sharing its gifts more fairly and working together with all of its inhabitants to ease its violence, pain. and sufferings.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Lord, You are our Shepherd and we pray for our families and friends who need to hear the voice of Jesus the Good Shepherd; who knows every one of them by name; who offers rest to the weary and salvation to sinners and life eternal to all who accept him into their lives.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Lord, You are our Shepherd who seeks out the lost and the sick.  We pray for those we know who are lost in illness and ask you to reassure them with the knowledge that you are watching over them in their suffering and that many are praying for their recovery.

We now raise before you those who have asked for our prayers … David, Rose, Mark, Fiona (here in the Wakatipu), Deb, David, Barbara and Lynley (in Christchurch), Andrew, Fiona, Glenys in Dunedin, Sam (in Singapore) and others we now name aloud, or in the silence of our hearts, and those who are known only by you.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Lord, you are our Shepherd so we pray for those who have died and for those who ache with sorrow in their loss of a loved one.  May those we now remember before you find rest in the Spirit’s embrace as you welcome them into the great sheepfold, safe in your keeping for ever.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

In a moment of silence we pray for ourselves, our families, friends, for all whom we love and for our personal ministries. Make us worthy of the compassion you show to us.

(Short Silence) Lord, in Your mercy” : Hear our prayer. Faithful God, as we go from our worship today, out into Your world, may we remember to thank You for shepherding us wherever we are and whatever we have to face.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Merciful father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

lord's_prayer_pic01_edited.jpg

Remembering that we are confident to pray this day, and every day, because Jesus Christ continues to teach us:
 

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.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever.   Amen.

Let us conclude our prayers by praying together and aloud:

 

God of mercy,
you have given us grace to pray with one heart and one voice,
and have promised to hear the prayers
of two or three who agree in your name,
fulfil now, we pray,
the prayers and longings of your people
as may be best for us and for your kingdom.
Grant us in this world to know your truth,
and in the world to come to see your glory. Amen.

The Blessing

May The Risen Lord Christ turn His face towards each and every one of you.

May He cause His light to shine upon you, and

may He grant you His peace, and

 

The blessing of Almighty God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

be with you and all of those whom you love,

on this day and forever more.

A Closing Hymn:

Let us conclude our worship today by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we unite in another hymn our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

The Dismissal

Go now, go out into the world

to love and serve The Lord.

 

Go in peace.

AMEN, we go in the name of Christ.

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