Church Services



May 3, 2020


4th Sunday of Easter

Call to Worship

Leader: Come all who love the Lord and who seek to serve God daily!

People: For each of us like sheep have gone astray, each in our own way.

Leader: But the Lord is our shepherd, who seeks us out when we are lost.

People: And the Love of the Lord knows no bounds and calls to us always.

Leader: Then let us lift our voices in praise and song for God's Love.

All: Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Opening Prayer: O God, You knew us even before we were born, and You knew we would each wander off into trouble like sheep. Thank You for opening the door to the sheepfold and calling us home. In Christ we pray. Amen.


Opening Hymn: "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us"

Savior, like a shepherd lead us,

Much we need Thy tender care;

In Thy pleasant pastures feed us,

For our use Thy folds prepare:

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,

Thou hast bought us, Thine we are;

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,

Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.


We are Thine; do Thou befriend us,

Be the guardian of our way;

Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us,

Seek us when we go astray:

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,

Hear, O hear us when we pray;

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,

Hear, O hear us when we pray.


Thou hast promised to receive us,

Poor and sinful though we be;

Thou hast mercy to relieve us,

Grace to cleanse, and pow'are to free:

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,

Early let us turn to Thee;

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,

Early let us turn to Thee.


Early let us seek Thy favor;

Early let us do Thy will;

Blessed Lord and only Savior,

With Thy love our beings fill:

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,

Thou hast loved us, love us still;

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,


Joys

- The virus seems to be affecting fewer people

- Beautiful weather

- Some folks able to go back to work


Concerns

- Those who are working in Hospitals, doctor's offices, in the prisons, the first responders, maintenance people, and all of those who are going into work.

- Those who have lost jobs and those wondering how they will survive

- Those who are ill, those who have lost loved ones

- Those who are alone and those who cannot find any alone time

- Those in nursing facilities, their families, and the staff of those facilities

- Those of us looking for answers and those of us who believe they have all the answers

- For our leaders and our world


Prayer Time: Gracious God, help us to live in love with others, and, as we ask for your forgiveness, enable us to be forgiving. Take from our lives the hidden grudges and concealed hate. Forgive us that like lost sheep we have turned away from you. Forgive our sins and fill us with love and concern for others, and make us ready to help and quick to forgive. We thank you for every good thing in our lives for home and friends and family; for all the beauty and loveliness in the world about us, for life itself with all its promise and possibility. We thank you that in the experiences of life (the good and the bad and the ugly) we were not alone, but you were there as our Shepherd and friend. We thank you that we are yours, that you have called us all by name, that through Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, who lived and died and rose again for us, you have redeemed us; and that your love will never let us go. We thank you that so often you have come to us in the ordinary and everyday things of life, in our work and in our leisure. Help us there to seek you and find you and serve you. We thank You for teaching us to pray by saying;


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 and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.


Hymn: "Jesus Calls O'er the Tumult"


"Jesus Calls O'er the Tumult" played by Kayley Thomas

1 Jesus calls us o'er the tumult

of our life's wild, restless sea;

day by day his sweet voice soundeth,

saying "Christian, follow me."


2 As, of old, apostles heard it

by the Galilean lake,

turned from home and toil and kindred,

leaving all for his dear sake.


3 Jesus calls us from the worship

of the vain world's golden store,

from each idol that would keep us,

saying "Christian, love me more."


4 In our joys and in our sorrows,

days of toil and hours of ease,

still he calls, in cares and pleasures,

"Christian, love me more than these."


5 Jesus calls us; by thy mercies,

Savior, may we hear thy call,

give our hearts to thine obedience,

serve and love thee best of all.


Readings for the Day: Acts 2:42-47, Psalm 23, 1 Peter 2:19-25

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. 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 listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

7 Therefore Jesus said again, "Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] 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."

11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 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. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep."

14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me- 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father-and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life-only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."

19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, "He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?"

21 But others said, "These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"


Sermon: "The Good Shepherd"

In the previous episode, the Jewish leaders treat the blind man with contempt. The present section shows how Jesus stands in sharp contrast to these leaders. He is the "gate for the sheep" (10:7) and the "good shepherd" (10:11), whereas the Jewish leaders are "hired hands" (10:12-13) or even "thieves and robbers" (10:1, 8). As the true spiritual leader, Jesus knows his people, offers them security and spiritual nourishment, and, above all, lays down his life for them (10:3-4, 9-11, 14-15, 17-18). Jesus is fully devoted to his followers and willingly sacrifices his life so they may have life in all its fullness. The Jewish leaders, on the other hand, are unloving, selfish pretenders who will only harm their followers. The response to Jesus is again divided between those who think he is demon possessed and crazy and those who are amazed by Jesus's unique ability to heal a blind man (10:19-21). The Baker Bible Handbook by J. Daniel Hays and J. Scott Duvall, Baker Books, 2011


In the East, the shepherd goes before the sheep, leading them, not driving them from behind. The shepherd leads the sheep into the shelter of the sheepfold in the valley where they will spend the night. The sheepfold is made of four high, rough walls, with thorns placed around the top to keep out thieves who might otherwise attempt to climb over. In one of the walls there is a space a little larger than a man's body. The shepherd precedes his sheep, stands in the gap in the wall, facing outward, and calls his sheep by name as they come over the hillside. He examines each sheep carefully for bruises and briars. If a sheep has bruised his head from hitting a rock, or being butted by another sheep, the shepherd rubs oil into the wound. "Thou anointest my head with oil." If a sheep is thirsty, the shepherd gives him a drink. Only after the shepherd is certain that each sheep is all right, does he allow it to enter the sheepfold.


After the sheep are settled in, the shepherd builds a fire in the entrance, eats his evening meal, and watches his sheep by night. Then he wraps himself in his cloak and lies down across the entrance. The sheep therefore have no need to fear, for robbers cannot come over the walls, and wild animals will not enter because of their fear of the fire. And, in addition, any intruder would have to pass by not only the fire, but the body of the shepherd lying across the entrance. Thus, for the sheep, their shepherd is literally the "door" or the "gate" to the sheepfold. Now we can see the background of Jesus' words in the tenth chapter of John's Gospel. "I am the good shepherd," He says. And again, "I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture." The words are not contradictory to each other, but complimentary.


Numbers of people have heard Jesus words, and taken Him at His word, and have discovered that He was and is the gateway into the heart of God. He was, and is, the door to the finest and truest understanding of God's nature and God's character that the world has ever known. Before Jesus' coming into the world people were confused and uncertain. They tried all sorts of doors, but they only led them into blind alleys, Then Jesus came, and a door was opened, that seemed to be closed before. No longer did people think of God as far off and remote, inaccessible, a stranger at best, an enemy at worst. Jesus Christ opened the door to the heart of God and they discovered Him to be Companion and Friend.


"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." (John 7b-9) The term "being saved" or "salvation" comes with a Biblical root that means health and wholeness. It means being in right relationship with God, with one's neighbors, and with one's self. And which of us does not need that? We are all made by God for community: with God, and with one another. God's will for the world is community, not chaos. Salvation is the state of being in right relationship with God, with others, and with our own best selves, the selves God created us to be.


Actually, there is more to these words of Jesus than simply "being saved." Jesus said that "Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture." That phrase, "to come in and go out" is a Hebrew expression which means peace and freedom. To be able to come and go freely was the Jewish way of describing a life that was absolutely secure and safe. When you can come and go as you please, without fear, then you are truly free. Such freedom is not possible in many places in our world. So, the Biblical phrase "to come in and go out" is a way of proclaiming freedom and liberation. Another word for "savior" is "liberator." In the early days of the Church most of the world was in bondage; if physical bondage through slavery, then spiritual bondage to forms of religion and views of God which oppressed them and kept them down. But Christ's coming was one of Liberator, and many of us still need liberation: from fear, worry, anxiety, bad habits, bad attitudes and practices, whatever. Christ is saying that once we have entered the door He has opened for us, then we can come and go and find "liberty" and joy and fulfillment.


Jesus said that there is just such a door. A door leading into where there is light and love and joy and peace. Jesus said that God is the heart's true home and when you go there, God wants to take you in. Other doors take us to darkness and being unfulfilled and to death.


Jesus says, "I am the door." And down through the centuries millions have found Him to be as good as His word. Let Jesus be the door for your life! Let Jesus be your Shepherd! Trust Him, He has laid down His life for you, that you might have life and have it abundantly.

(Excerpts from Dynamic Preaching, Collected Words, by Donald B. Strobe were used.)


Closing Hymn: "All the Way My Savior Leads Me"

All the way my Savior leads me,

What have I to ask beside?

Can I doubt His tender mercy,

Who through life has been my Guide?

Heav'nly peace, divinest comfort,

Here by faith in Him to dwell!

For I know, whate'er befall me,

Jesus doeth all things well;

For I know, whate'er befall me,

Jesus doeth all things well.


All the way my Savior leads me,

Cheers each winding path I tread,

Gives me grace for every trial,

Feeds me with the living Bread.

Though my weary steps may falter

And my soul athirst may be,

Gushing from the Rock before me,

Lo! A spring of joy I see;

Gushing from the Rock before me,

Lo! A spring of joy I see.


All the way my Savior leads me,

Oh, the fullness of His love!

Perfect rest to me is promised

In my Father's house above.

When my spirit, clothed immortal,

Wings its flight to realms of day

This my song through endless ages:

Jesus led me all the way;

This my song through endless ages:

Jesus led me all the way.


Benediction: Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Eph. 3:20-21


Choral Benediction: Go now in peace, go now in peace; may the love of God surround you everywhere, everywhere you may go.


"Go Now in Peace" played by Kayley Thomas