Sunday Service 3rd of May, Jesus: The Gate
You can also watch a video service this week, click the link Here or scroll down to the bottom of this article!
John 10:1 – 10 Jesus: The Gate
Pause and pray:
Loving God, we come before you as unique individuals, Ready to acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses, Ready to recognise the value of others, to value the difference, Ready to hear your call as it morphs and changes, Ready to hear your accepting voice and all that frees us to consider, Ready to respond, Amen.
Hymn: MP 564 Praise to the Lord https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNq0WtMSmIY
Prayer: Lord we are called to worship you, but sometimes we find it hard. We are called to respond to your love and to serve those in need, but sometimes we just don’t see.
We are called to help build heaven on earth, but we stumble at the first step. So loving God help us today to worship with all our being. Open our minds and our hearts to your love and forgiveness.
Fill us with a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging, a sense of calling. That as we pray, as we read scripture, and we ponder in this service, may we hear your still small voice deep in our hearts and may your Spirit be upon us. For this we ask on Jesus’ name. Amen.
Photo by Kjell-Jostein Sivertsen via Unsplash
The Lord’s Prayer
Read John 10:1-10
Sheepfold - Gatekeeper - Sheep - Shepherd
What is a sheepfold? It’s a place of safety for sheep with high walls made of stone, sun dried bricks, mud and wattle, or tightly packed thorn brush. It is not closed in but is open to the weather.
The high walls are to stop thieves, rustlers and wild animals getting in, if they do the carnage is horrific, losses are large and the shepherd suffers serious financial loss.
Sheepfold is also a term for managing sheep. The sheep are enfolded by their owner; he enfolds his flock so that they will flourish.
There is a special relationship between the shepherd and the sheep. This is especially true for my sister the shepherd, for whom every lamb, no matter how weak, disabled or bedraggled has to be saved, whatever the cost. This year it was ‘Spot’, the youngest of triplets and abandoned by her mother. Spot was soon tucked up in a cardboard box in the warmth of the kitchen, learning to drink from a bottle and gradually gaining strength. It wasn’t long before she was up and about, taking over Zoe the dog’s bed, sleeping in front of the wood burner and even cuddling up on my mum’s knee in the evenings. Spot soon learned to recognise my sister’s voice and now comes running whenever she is called. Jesus calls his own sheep by name and the sheep listen to his voice (verse 3).
'Spot' the Lamb
Jesus sees our lives as a sheepfold, and he is the rightful owner who is concerned about who is coming in and going out.
How many people come in and out of your life? Not so many under lockdown, I know, but even now our lives are not entirely closed in.
In our lives we may sometimes have built high walls to try and stop others getting in, we may even think we have succeeded in keeping nearly everyone out, but no-one is an island; no-one can totally withdraw into their own little domain, even today!
We are still susceptible to the smooth-talking con artist, the deceivers, who want to exploit us for their own selfish ends. We are seduced by consumerism, false values, false standards of behaviour, fake news. Even my bank emailed me today, ‘Sadly, coronavirus related scams are on the rise as fraudsters seek to take advantage of the uncertainty during this difficult period’.
All these, among others, are the thieves and robbers of today!
And people suffer. Some because they fail stop such people and influences entering the sheepfold of their lives while others open the gate willingly. Sadly, they fail to open their lives to the one person who can give them abundant life! Jesus is kept out! Jesus, the only one who has the God given authority to enfold our lives, is kept out.
Thankfully, Jesus never gives up on us. He continually seeks entry into the fold of our lives. He will not force his way in, he won't gate-crash our lives; he chooses to enter our lives by the proper entrance, with our consent. We all need a good gatekeeper for our lives - a gatekeeper who recognises who and what can be allowed in, who knows when to open the door and when to close it! When we ask Jesus into our lives, we make the Holy Spirit the gatekeeper to our lives.
'Spot' the Lamb
Jesus longs to share his life with you and me, and as he does his love, his peace, his joy, all become real in our lives, and through our lives these gifts overflow into the lives of others.
Let him in and it’s the beginning of a whole new way of life! We are a new creation!
First you were a sheepfold; now you are a sheep of the Good Shepherd and as one of his sheep you learn to recognise his voice. Just as Spot recognises my sister’s voice.
How do you hear God's voice? Through the Bible, prayer, relationships, friends, hymns, creation, an inward conviction, Jesus' own words in the Bible; it takes practice, but it happens and once you recognise the Shepherd's voice, do not ignore it. RESPOND! Jesus wants to know his sheep intimately.
Jesus calls us on and goes before us. If you stay in the sheepfold you will die from thirst in the heat, sheepfolds are dusty dry places during the day. We need to be ready at the gate at dawn, ready to go where Jesus leads. Ready to serve!
It may be risky and scary, but the Shepherd goes with us! If you want the abundant life that Jesus promises, you need to follow.
Photo by Erik-Jan Leusink via Unsplash
Spot has recently re-joined the flock, but she still recognises her shepherd’s voice and she still follows, knowing that the Shepherd only wants the best for her. Jesus plans the absolute best for us. As we listen to his voice and respond, our lives are enriched, filled with the Spirit and empowered to call others to join the fold and grow in faith.
Entrust the keeping of your soul and life to Jesus. Make the Holy Spirit the gatekeeper to your life.
Let Jesus, the Good Shepherd, lead you gently into his presence.
Let Him lead you in the path of peace.
His part is to show the way. Your part, my part, is to walk in it. Amen.
Read through Psalm 23 and as you do, listen for Jesus’ voice. This Psalm was written as a lament as the poet who wrote it was in distress. Try reading it in the shadow of all that is happening in the world.
Sit quietly for one minute and wonder; did you hear Jesus’ voice in the reading? If so, what do you hear Jesus saying? If you didn’t – don’t worry! Enjoy the quiet.
MP 1008 The Lord’s my Shepherd https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN4tPkX0MG0
Or MP 649 The King of love my shepherd is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LF2M8nvKK9k
If you know the words of by heart try this version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iu83WQdQ7-Y
Offer your own prayers of intercession
MP 449 Love divine, all loves excelling https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGGcqhKShQ8
Know then that God is with you, even as the days look different.
Ask what you can do to make God’s kingdom real for someone through what you do: prayer, chat, safe acts of kindness. Know God is at work in and through you. Amen.
God Bless, Stay Safe!