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               St Clement Church Community Easter Season Service

 

Good morning to you all. As we commemorate the 4th Sunday of Easter, I do hope that in all the unprecedented strangeness and fear of these current times we can continue to find hope in the Easter message, hope that is so needed for our world.

Much love and may Christ’s love sustain you always. 

Rev Di and family xx

 

Alleluia! Christ is risen.  He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

 

Let us pray: Merciful Father, you gave your Son Jesus Christ to be the good shepherd, and in his love for us to lay down his life and rise again: keep us always under his protection, and give us grace to follow in his footsteps; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Hymn; Alleluia sing to Jesus.’ 

 

Our prayers of Penitence

On this 4th Sunday of Easter, in a moment of quiet reflection let us honestly examine our lives, remembering where our attitudes have been wrong, where love has grown cold, where hurts have not been forgiven, or where cries for help have not been answered…

 

When we are faced with something that challenges us, but fail to step out in faith and instead regress into old attitudes;

Lord, have mercy. 

 

When we face these difficult times, but fail to recognise that through it all you are holding us in your loving arms;

Christ, have mercy. 

When we fail to forgive past hurts to the detriment of restoring relationships;

Lord, have mercy.  

 

When we look inwards to our own concerns rather than seeking to help those in need;

Christ, have mercy. 

 

When we are agents of gloom rather than messengers of hope;

Lord, have mercy. 

 

May Almighty God have mercy upon us, forgive our mistakes and failings, and bring us to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Let us pray our Collect for the fourth Sunday of Easter

Risen Christ, faithful shepherd of your Father’s sheep: teach us to hear your voice and to follow your command, that all your people may be gathered into one flock, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

 

Readings:

Acts 9.36 - end

Revelation 7. 9-end

 

Hymn; The King of Love my Shepherd is.’ 

 

The Gospel Reading

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John. (10.22-30)

Glory to you, O Lord.

At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 

What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.’

This is the Gospel of the Lord.    Praise to you, O Christ.

 

Reflection

Even though my daughters are now in their forties, this is where you say; ‘never, you look so young!’……  I still worry about them, well, it’s what parents do isn’t it!  And even though they both live locally, technology being what it is today, we communicate a lot by text messages.

Wednesday evening, when I was meant to be writing this sermon, Susan and I were texting back and forth.  Upon reflection it would certainly have been easier and quicker to ring her because I still can’t get the hang of my mobile phone, but I digress as usual…. 

For some reason or other I decided to ask whether she had any plans to come to church once in a while. That’s one thing about text messages isn’t it, you can ask difficult questions without having to vocalise them!

Her response made me smile; “Mum,” she text, “I don’t need to come to church, I remember you telling me that we can find God in the beauty of a garden.’’  I couldn’t resist, and quickly text back; “So you’re coming round to tidy the vicarage garden this Sunday?” 

I’m certain many of us have searched for God and have found Him at different points and places in our lives, and if we were to reflect on the question; “Where have you found God?” the answers would be as unique and diverse as each one of us. 

Some would say it was in a beautiful sunset, others might say they felt God’s presence when they held their new-born child, or perhaps some would say God was found in the gentle touch of a friend’s hand in a time of stress or pain.  Certainly some would say they have found God here, in the sacred space of this Church.

But unfortunately, as much as we want to hold on to those times, the troubles of life can cause moments of profound depth and sadness that pull us away from the God we so desperately seek.

John’s gospel for today is a reminder of this.  It was winter; the festival of the Dedication in Jerusalem.  We know this as Hanukah today; the Festival of Lights, which commemorates the rededication of the temple after its destruction. 

At the temple Jesus is walking in the portico of Solomon, maybe he was sheltering from the cold, we hear the words; “it was winter,” but perhaps it also describes the bleakness and spiritual chill of the time and place. 

The Jews surround Jesus, encircle him and begin to attack him with their questions.  “How long will you keep us in suspense?  If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”  Another translation reads; “How long do you intend to annoy us?” 

Jesus responds by pointing to his works; “The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me.”  And he points to his words, reminding them; “I have told you and you do not believe.” 

But this isn’t what they want to hear or know, because their purpose is to gather evidence against Jesus to eventually rid themselves of this so called “king”, this Good Shepherd. 

Jesus tells them they don’t recognise him for who he is because they aren’t his sheep, and folk in those times would understand this, as a lot of them were shepherds.  Their flocks of sheep were kept together on the hillside for safety, and when they went to tend to them, the sheep would separate and find their own shepherd.    

Likewise, Jesus’s sheep, those who know him, hear his voice and follow him, and see him for who he is. Against the backdrop of the temple building, they look at Jesus and see him as the true living, breathing temple, the dwelling place of God.  During the festival of lights, they see Jesus as the light of the world. 

But where is he in our world?  And how do we find him?

Let’s listen to the words of John’s gospel again; Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice.  I know them, and they follow me.”  “I know them.”   Not; “they know me and follow me” but; “I know them”. 

Our Saviour knows us, inside and out, with all our quirks and imperfections.

Our Saviour loves and cares for us, and then promises that no one will ever snatch us away from him. His love runs deeper than we can ever comprehend, because even when we’ve given up looking and searching, our Lord does not. While we may forget that we are his sheep, Jesus never forgets that he is our Shepherd.       

 “It was winter.”  The first sermon I wrote on this passage was at the time of Ken’s cancer diagnosis in 2013.  I physically felt the chill in the air on reading it, and I know that you shared our worry, pain and heartache, and we can never thank you enough for your support then, and now, as his treatment continues.  The dark days of those times caused us to stop in our tracks, our world was shattered, it was truly winter.

And then we recognized the Truth that stood before us…in our searching and looking for reasons and answers, we found a Good Shepherd searching and looking for us. 

Time has moved on, we as a community now support much loved family and friends through similar trials, and as our friends read these words today, may they, like us, find comfort in knowing that through all it all, Jesus is with us. Knowing that when we can’t find him, he finds us and we hear him say;

“I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.  What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one, no one, can snatch it out of the Father’s hand.” We are his sheep, and all shall be well. Thanks be to God.  Amen.

 

Hymn; Lead us Heavenly Father, lead us. 

 

Affirmation of our faith

Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; he was buried; he was raised to life on the third day and afterwards he appeared to his followers and to all the apostles: this we have received, and this we believe.  This is the faith of the Church. This is our faith. We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

Our intercessions this week are written by Daphne Hawkins

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray.

Heavenly Father, we humbly pray for your presence with us as we gather for our service here at St Clement or those with us in spirit from the many who share our worship from home.

We pray for our church world-wide, all Christians, all church leaders and all who teach and guard the faith that binds us together through all the many challenges we face daily.  We bring to you Reverend Diane and her loyal family. Be with her, guide, strengthen and protect her always as she serves you, her church and our community.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

 

We pray for all world leaders, governments and all in authority; give them the gift of wisdom and compassion and the desire to bring peace, understanding and unity at this most painful time of challenge and unrest. We pray for an end to the conflict in the Ukraine.

We ask for an end to the suffering of these desperate people, especially the fear and pain inflicted on the innocent little ones.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

We pray for Elizabeth our much loved and respected Queen. We pray for both her and the Royal family. Please give them strength to carry out the demand of the many duties in this Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee. May the celebrations bring them joy.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

 

We pray for our community, our family and friends and all who live and work here; for those who will come to our county to find rest and relaxation and enjoy a much-deserved holiday after these most difficult months. May we share some happy times together.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

 

We thank you, dear Lord, for last weekend, the Flower Festival. The opportunity to welcome so many friends old and new to the beauty of St Clement. To hear the music and the choirs who came to sing in our church. It was a time to feel uplifted after the dark days of the last two years. We thank you for giving Liz the strength to organise the Flower Festival despite the loss, tragic and too soon, of Martin. Please may he always be with her.                                                                                                                                                                   Dear Lord, we thank you: for all those dear friends who worked so hard in preparation and producing the amazing displays, of ideas and the beauty of the arrangements. The church has never looked more spectacular. For those who worked behind the scenes, preparing, cleaning, providing refreshments and washing up, all done with a smile and friendly word. Thank you, Lord, thank you.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

 

We bring to you those of our brothers and sisters, sick in body, mind or spirit, those with no one to care or even say a kind word or prayer for them.   We think of Ollie, Terry and Dot, Margaret, Diane and Ken, Maureen, Brian, Gavin, Paul and Jan, Sally, Gill and family and Jenny. Lord, please lay your healing hands on them, give comfort to those in despair and those in need and bring peace and hope to all at this time.

Lord, welcome into your kingdom all who have recently come to the end of their earthly journey, those we love but see no more, those with you in your eternal kingdom. May they all be at rest and in peace until we meet again in your holy presence.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

 

Lord, be with us every day and may we hold out the hand of friendship to those we meet on our journey.

Rejoicing in the fellowship of St Andrew, St Clement and the Blessed Virgin Mary, we commend ourselves and all Christians to your unfailing love.

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

 

Gathering our prayers and praises into one,

let us pray with confidence as our risen Lord taught us;

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.

 

Hymn; O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing. 

 

The Peace

The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples

and said, ‘Peace be with you.’

Then they were glad when they saw the risen Lord.

Alleluia!  May the peace of the risen Lord be always with us.

 

Blessing

May the light of Christ surround us,

may the Love of God enfold us,

may the presence of God watch over us,

may the power of God protect us and those whom we love, 

and may we never forget that wherever we are, God is also. 

Amen.

 

 


 

 

 

 


Page last updated: 6th May 2022 6:49 AM