The Good Shepherd
Jesus says, ‘I am the gate.’
Come, and be loved.
Come, and receive peace.
Come, and find life.
A Gathering Prayer- Response after each line: we come in the name of Jesus.
We come because we know we are welcome, O God.
We come because you call us by name, O God.
We come together to offer you our worship, O God.
John 10: 1-18
Stf 479 The King of love my Shepherd is
Being an Interactive Service, if we were in our building we would now choose a group we would like to go to to explore the theme. So, being at home, you now have three options:-
Option 1 Craft Activity - To make a Pasture Biscuit
You will need: plain biscuits, green icing, long sweets, e.g. cola strips or liquorice laces, and mini marshmallows, or whatever you have at hand – use your imagination!
Cover the top of the biscuit with green icing using a spoon. Place long sweets around the outside edge of the biscuits to make a fence (leaving a gap for the gate) and add a few marshmallows to the centre of each biscuit to represent sheep.
Take a photo if you can and send it to Keith to share next week
Thank you Margaret for your picture, sorry you hadn't got a biscuit!
Option 2 - Meditate on Psalm 23 while listening to the video below 'The Lord is My Shepherd' by Howard Goodall
Option 3 - Reflect on Questions on John 10 ; 1-10 to consider:-
We gather back together to sing:-
StF 322 How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
Throughout the Bible God likens his relationship or the relationship of his son with the people to that of a good shepherd and his sheep. This morning we are concentrating on our New Testament reading from John and I want us to think firstly about the false leaders who try to take us away from Jesus the Good Shepherd, secondly about Jesus as the door and finally about Jesus as THE good shepherd.
Our passage begins with: “Jesus said: I am telling you the truth: the man who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber.”
Jesus is the only Good Shepherd. The thieves and robbers are false leaders who try to take us away from Christ, for example in Jesus’ time the Pharisees were blind leaders, bogus shepherds if you like, for they claimed to be caring for God’s flock yet despised God’s only son. Today false leaders are perhaps those in authority whom we look up to and yet do not hold the truth. They encourage people to trust in themselves rather than God. Some pretend to be good shepherds and people follow them and yet following them is worse than being a sheep without a shepherd. If people become lost no-one looks for them. Such shepherds could easily expect us to do things for their purpose and so exploit us. Such shepherds could easily take advantage of their sheep.
Having got these negative feelings out of the way, let’s move on to think about true shepherds. People such as Moses and the prophets to whom God entrusted his flock did a good job. They were true shepherds and in a sense forerunners of Christ. They tended the sheep carefully. We are so blessed to have Jesus, the best ever shepherd looking after us.
This leads me on to the second part – Jesus as the door. It really does help me to think of Jesus as the door or gate of the sheep.
Let me share with you the reasons why:
Many years ago, in the East, the shepherd of a flock used to lie across the opening to a fold to protect the sheep by keeping out wild animals. Jesus is acting as our door – protecting us from outside influences which may corrupt us and yet at the same time he is not wrapping each one of us in cotton wool and keeping away colds and illness. Just as the shepherds in the East did not stop rain and wind from falling on the sheep but cared for their greater needs so Jesus cares for our greater needs
Jesus is a welcoming door. We can think about this every time we walk through an automatic door like at Sainsbury’s. Just as we approach the door, arms laden with shopping or pushing a trolley, it opens automatically. Jesus opens up the fold for all those who wish to enter and is first to meet and welcome them.
Jesus often opens up a new door in life for those who are stuck or trapped and so brings new hope. I remember feeling great relief when one of our sons let himself out of the bathroom in my brother’s house after accidentally locking himself in. I also remember feeling great relief when someone managed to let my mum, dad and me back into our house on Christmas Eve after we had been out for a meal at a restaurant and returned home to find that no-one had a key to our front door. (They got in through a window.) I was at Junior School at the time and was particularly worried because I knew the importance of Christmas Eve.
Jesus then can be usefully thought of as the door to the family of God, an unlimited family bounded by love. The membership of the family of God is the key to a fuller life and we need to be renewed by Christ in order to live life more abundantly and appreciate the beauty of creation. The important point is that God can be reached through this door – that is the door of Christ Jesus.
Once inside the fold we may learn to find out Christ’s way for us and to develop trust which will allow us to follow wherever He leads. But we must be prepared to obey Him and realise that we, as His sheep, do not know more than the shepherd.
Lastly let us consider Jesus as THE good shepherd. To begin with let’s think about what a shepherd is. Everybody knows that a shepherd is someone who leads his sheep, but if all we think of Christ is that he leads us, then we have not got the full picture. Earlier on in the passage from John, in verse 3, we are told: “the sheep hear his voice as he calls his own sheep by name, and he leads them out.”
Bearing in mind that name in the Bible signifies character, we are told that Jesus knows the character of every single one of us. There is a real personal relationship between Jesus and us: not only is He our Leader but also our friend. He loves us and requires our obedience. In England a shepherd always goes behind his sheep; but Jesus travels before us like the shepherds in ancient Eastern Cultures who often stayed with their flock for 8 or 9 years and gave their sheep names to which they responded. Jesus though is no dictator. He prepares our way ahead and calls us to Him, giving us strength to tackle situations facing us. Power for Jesus is in love and not bullying.
Jesus tells us more than once that He is the good shepherd. His presence as the good shepherd inevitably results in the separation of those who belong to God’s flock and those who do not. He knows exactly what people are made of but He also knows the purpose and will of God His Father. He is therefore ready to lay down His life voluntarily for His sheep. If we think of the biggest sacrifice made in the world we must surely think of the death of Jesus (a guiltless man) for the forgiveness of our sins and give thanks.
Let us pray.
Dear Father, We thank you for Jesus the good shepherd. Help us to be aware of the great sacrifice which He made on our behalf and help us to follow and obey Him wherever He may lead and whatever He may ask us to do. We know that we are weak and yet we know that we are all Christ has to do His work on earth. Help us not to let you down but to follow our good shepherd as good sheep should and also to become good shepherds for others and to accept help from others who have been sent by you to shepherd us. Amen
Prayer of Confession
Father, when we think of Jesus, his example and obedience to give even his life on the cross and compare ourselves to him, we feel very aware and ashamed of our own failings. So we come to you in the quietness of a few moments to confess our sins.
Generous God, you offer us abundant life, yet we ask for more;
you offer us security and sanctuary, yet we seek our own way – despite the risks;
you offer us guidance and direction, and we ignore you and take our own way.
We are sorry for our ingratitude.
We are sorry for our arrogance.
We are sorry that we think we know best.
Forgive us, renew us and restore us to abundant life in you,
in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Thank you that we know our sins are forgiven. Help us, knowing this and the love and care you show for us, to live out our lives in a way which reflects something of Jesus particularly in the way we treat and serve others. We ask all this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us to pray saying:
Prayers of Intersession
Stf 323 I will sing the wonderous story
Samantha, Cheryl and Nigel singing and playing their arrangement of My Lighthouse, My Lighthouse by Rend Collective.
The Lord Bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you, the Lord look on you with kindness and give you peace. Amen
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These are the Worship at Home versions of the In Person Services, led by our Minister :-
Each Service has the videos of the songs and the Sermon or reflection.
The Song references (StF) are from the Singing the Faith song book.
The videos of the songs are linked to YouTube or vimeo which may have advertising which Kingswood Methodist Church does not endorse.