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               St Clement Church Community Easter Season Service

 

Good morning to you all.

As we commemorate the 4th Sunday of Easter, traditionally known as Good Shepherd Sunday.  Thankfully, unlike last year, we’re able to worship in our church building, this service is if you’re unable to be with us in person, but are with us in spirit.

Much love and prayers and may Christ’s love sustain 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.

 

 

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.

 

The Gospel Reading

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John. (10.11-18)

Glory to you, O Lord.

 

Jesus said to the Pharisees:

 ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 

The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 

I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.’

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

Reflection

Today is traditionally known as Good Shepherd Sunday, the Fourth Sunday in the Easter Season.

Our Gospel reading tells of the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep, tending and caring for them like no other, laying the foundation for the way the Church is to take care of its own as well.
The imagery of such a shepherd is one the first century audience of Jesus would have been very familiar with, after all, they were used to seeing shepherds on the hillsides, and they would have known the way a shepherd and his sheep interacted with one another. Furthermore, they were aware of the reality of a shepherd’s self-sacrifice for his flock.

But when Jesus says that he is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life, he’s making quite a political statement: the Good Shepherd cares about the flock. The ‘hired hand’, for instance; poor leaders, religious or civil, turn and run when a wolf comes.

And this would especially have been a challenge to the religious leaders of the day, some of whom had sold out to the wolf of Rome and allowed Judaism to become complacent in colluding with the Empire.
Jesus however is like a good shepherd, someone who cares for the sheep, and is passionate about what he is doing.

I expect many of us have had the experience of working with someone who was doing the job just to earn a wage.  We know there’s a huge difference in work ethic between someone who is living their vocation, their calling in life, and someone who’s doing the job just because they have to, and hate what they’re doing.

This is comparable to a good shepherd and a hired hand; one does the job fully, putting the sheep first, the other hardly does the job, and leaves when adversity strikes.
While the phrase; “I know my own and my own know me” might be understood as a way of shutting people out for looking, acting, or believing differently than we do, John makes this idea hard to maintain a few verses later when Jesus says, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold, I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”
Finally, this passage focuses on self-sacrifice and the way the Good Shepherd lays down his life to fend off a wolf.

When Jesus laid down his life he did it with a purpose. Christ laid down his life for his sheep against the ultimate wolf, but took it back up again, for our salvation.

I believe our church, the body of Christ, the Good Shepherd, cares for the flock in so many ways. 

Christianity’s health isn’t about doctrine or liturgical style.  Church is about community, a place to feel safe and loved, so that we can dare to grow in our faith, dare to make our way in the world, and even to face death.

Some faith bodies get the importance of community, and some don’t.  You can always tell the difference. The ones that get it, make room for children, greet strangers, embrace diversity and always have time for the person who is suffering.

The ones that don’t get it want children out of the way, encourage hostility, freeze out the odd, rarely have time for human needs, and demand that people take sides in their endless squabbles.
I consider it an honour to be a part of the faith community here at St Clement that invests time in its members, and seeks to attract and welcome new people who may be visiting from other folds, who may or may not stay with us, but are recognised a part of the same flock with the same shepherd.

Today’s passage is about how Jesus the Good Shepherd cares for his flock.  But caring for the flock as manifested today requires mutual care for one another and you demonstrate this, especially in these troubled times.
Here I’ve found a community of people who cared for me when I joined as a curate, to daring to continue to walk with me when I became Vicar of this parish. You’ve watched my ministry grow, you’ve helped me make tough decisions and dare to challenge the powers that be. 

Likewise, in this place I’ve seen you grow in your ministry of holding and attending stunning lay-led services, of truly pulling together when jobs need doing problems solved, and adapting to all that covid has thrown at us. 

Here I’ve experienced people in this church fending off the wolves of despair by offering love and compassion during Ken’s cancer treatment, and continue to do so at his recent diagnosis.

You’ve supported one another during this past year or so as we’ve learned to live new lives, and this church community certainly led the way in our services of support for our Queen on the loss of her beloved husband.

You are truly Good Shepherds of St Clement, and for that I thank you. Alleluia! Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed, Alleluia!  Amen.

 

We close this reflection with our words of hope:

Because he lives I can face tomorrow, because he lives all fear is gone.

Because I know he holds the future, and life is worth the living,

just because he lives.  Amen.

 

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 Helen Dunbar

 

The Lord is our shepherd, and we are the sheep of his pasture. Let us bring to him our cares and concerns for the Church and for the world.

 

Holy God, your son remained with his disciples for forty days after his resurrection, teaching them to love all people, as friends and neighbours.  We too are his disciples and we offer our prayers on behalf of the church, the world in which we live and all those with whom we share it.

 

Loving God, the letter of John reminds us that ‘if anyone has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need, but has no pity in them, how can the love of God be in that person’. Help us as a Church community to try to aspire to love with actions and truth and not merely with words.

Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer

 

As we emerge from lockdown we pray for all people in our beautiful county. We pray for all people who make their living and depend on tourism, in particular those who depend on good weather, those who run outdoor attractions and seaside hotels and cafes.

Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer

 

 

Loving God, we pray for all world leaders that, using Jesus Christ the good shepherd as the ultimate model of leadership, they would lead and care for their own flocks in such a way that peace might abound, righteousness flourish and injustice be eradicated.

Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer

 

We pray for a world in which even ordinary humanity fails so often.  We pray for government ministers in every nation.  We pray that those who lead and take on great responsibilities may not simply wish to seem great in the eyes of others, but may genuinely serve their people, searching continually for polices and strategies which will be for the good of all. We pray for the victims of war and violence among individuals and nations and all refugees.

Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer.

 

We pray for ourselves at St Clement and the surrounding area, for all we know and all those who need our love and support.  Please God help us in all we do today and help us to make the right decisions, giving us patience and understanding and the ability to see the bigger picture.

Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer.

 

Bless and guide Elizabeth our Queen, and all the royal family as they come to terms with the loss of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh. The Queen was 95 years old on Wednesday, her first birthday without her beloved husband.

Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer.

 

Lord we pray that you are able to provide solace and inspiration to those who feel detached from you at this moment.  Those who feel that you may not be present in their daily lives, or find it difficult to turn their thoughts towards you.  We pray that they are able to once again experience your ever present and glorifying nature and realize that you had never left them, but were always there, waiting.

Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer.

 

Good Shepherd of the sheep, we pray for the weak and vulnerable, for those who must live depending on others for every need, and for those who are bullied, or constantly despised. We pray for a greater reverence, one for another, for a greater willingness to uphold and encourage one another; we pray for healing and wholeness.

We remember the sick and suffering in the parish and beyond, all those recovering from and awaiting surgery and we ask God’s blessing and comfort on them. We pray for Susan, a much loved sister of Penny, Ken and Diane, Derrek and Linda, Sue, Kate, Martin and Liz.

Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer.

 

We pray for those who have died; we pray for all who are grieving for loved ones and find it difficult to cope with the great sorrow and loss they feel; we commend their loved ones to your unfailing care which lasts throughout this life and on into eternity.

Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer.

 

 

Good Shepherd of the sheep, we give you thanks that in you we are able to live through good and ill with abundance of life.

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.

 

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: 22nd April 2021 1:23 PM