Sunday Worship 3rd May 2020

Welcome to worship!

This week I am trying out a different format, following some requests for more video content rather than just audio. You should be able to hit play on the first video and then enjoy the whole service, although there may be a bit of a jump between different sections and possibly some adverts – I have no control over that!

You may find the audio levels are not quite right – the birds were very loud today. I’ll try and get a better microphone for next week. If you would rather read on screen, then you can do that instead. Just scroll further down and everything is there.

Don’t forget that we have our first Zoom coffee at 11.30am. See the notice sheet for how to access it, or phone me beforehand.

YouTube Playlist for the whole service

Service written out

The Greeting

Alleluia. Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia.
Praise the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He has given us new life and hope.
He has raised Jesus from the dead.
Alleluia. Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Opening Prayer

Faithful one, whose word is life:
come with saving power
to free our praise, inspire our prayer
and shape our lives
for the kingdom of your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayers of Penitence

Jesus Christ, risen Master and triumphant Lord, we come to you in sorrow for our sins, and confess to you our weakness and unbelief.

We have lived by our own strength,
and not by the power of your resurrection.
In your mercy, forgive us.
Lord, hear us and help us.

We have lived by the light of our own eyes,
as faithless and not believing.
In your mercy, forgive us.
Lord, hear us and help us.

We have lived for this world alone,
and doubted our home in heaven.
In your mercy, forgive us.
Lord, hear us and help us.

May the God of love and power forgive us and free us from our sins, heal and strengthen us by his Spirit, and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect

Almighty God,
whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life:
raise us, who trust in him,
from the death of sin to the life of righteousness,
that we may seek those things which are above,
where he reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Reading

Acts 2: 42-47

Reading

John 10: 1-10

Sermon

How do you feel about being called a sheep?

I know from hearing from farmers that some sheep are awkward, some are prone to escaping, others seem to have a death wish. Most, however, are happy to follow the flock, to just carry on eating grass and moving in whichever direction their fellow sheep are moving, aided by the sheepdogs and farmers.

The metaphor of sheep and shepherd is often used to describe the relationship between Christians and Jesus. He is our shepherd – the good shepherd – the gate for the sheep – and we are his sheep.

What does the life of a sheep look like then? At some point the metaphor breaks down. We are not called to live in a field and eat grass – our digestive systems would soon rebel. So what does it mean to be a sheep who belongs to Jesus?

This question is really asking what we should do as members of the Church. We can look back at the early church to see what they did. The passage from Acts 2 gives us a picture of life in the early church – so early that it is talking about the weeks after the first Pentecost, only a couple of months after Jesus died. The famous description is found in verse 42.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

The passage goes on to talk about them living together in community, sharing everything in common, giving to those who were in need and

welcoming new believers into the community.

At first glance, you might think that nearly all of this impossible in the current lockdown situation. When you hear the words “all who believed were together”, does that make you sad? True, we can’t be together in person, but we can be together in purpose and we can keep in contact. Remember, this verse is talking about a time before there were designated church buildings in every community. This took place in the home as well as at the temple in Jerusalem.

Let’s go back to that verse – they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Rather than mourning what we can no longer do, let’s look at what we can do and look at what we mean by those four things.

First – the apostles’ teaching.

Who were the apostles? They were the leading disciples. They were teaching what they had heard directly from Jesus. How can we learn from them? By going back to the Bible. The gospels were written using the teachings of the apostles and their memories of Jesus. The New Testament letters also come in response to those teachings. The Old Testament contains the Jewish heritage that all the teachings of the apostles are based on. As it says in the letter to Timothy – all Scripture is God-breathed. The better you know the bible, the more you will recognise the sound and feel of God’s still small voice. This is why our life as Christians should include regular encounter with Scripture, whether that is at a service or in private.

The second part of the Christian life is – fellowship

Now, this is harder for us at the moment. Fellowship is celebration, it is gathering, and we can’t do that, but it is also getting to know one another and sharing our life stories and knowing each other well enough to be able to serve. This we can do. I think we are seeing a growth in fellowship in all our villages. Having been confined to houses, we are now more aware of everyone else and more likely to look out for them. People seem to be taking the time to make sure people have regular contact and support. Although much of our fellowship is at a distance of 2 metres or more, it is still fellowship, it is still that building and sustaining of a community, that faithful self-giving service.

Third – the breaking of bread

Now, there are several possible meanings for this. In the very early days of the Church, it probably just meant sharing food together, sitting down at the table with other believers. As the Church developed, this became a radical tradition – Jews and Gentiles sat down to eat together. Slaves ate with free people. None of this happened usually in society so was tending towards being scandalous. Of course, when we hear the phrase breaking of bread, our minds probably turn quickly towards the Eucharist. Towards the liturgical breaking of bread that has been inherited. Both are a part of our lives as the sheep of Jesus. The breaking of bread is very closely linked with fellowship. When you share food together, you get to know people better. This is why we have joint meals after services every so often. When we eat together, we build up fellowship and create stronger bonds of love between members of our community.

The final piece of the jigsaw is prayer because when we pray, we communicate with God himself. Depending on which translation is used, this final part of the Christian life is called either prayer or the prayers. In other words, a more or less formal sort of prayer. It doesn’t matter whether you pray using written liturgy or whether you talk to God as it occurs to you. However we pray, God hears us, delights in our voices and responds. We can always set aside more time for prayer.

So there’s our four elements of the Christian life. Think about the normal life of our churches. Can you see all four of those elements within our communities? If not, which is missing?

Our life of worship while confined to the home can follow that fourfold pattern. Engaging with the scriptures through regular reading of the bible to hear from God, thinking about the communities in which we live and contributing to the well-being of others, breaking bread in our homes, or using creative technology to connect with others over food – zoom dinner parties anyone? And above all, praying whether together or apart.

This picture of early church life doesn’t need a building. We know that we will return to our church buildings in the future and I hope we will find when we get there that the life of the Church has continued to grow and develop in isolation.

Don’t be put off by the high standard this sets. I’m sure that the early Church had just as many disagreements and fallings-out as any modern day group of Christians gathered to worship. This pattern is an aspiration – something to aim for and hope that we make it most of the time.

This then is the life of the sheep that belong to Jesus. We can be confident that Jesus is looking out for us, gathering us under his protection and leading us through whatever life brings. We are his sheep. It’s hard to be a sheep on your own. We need other sheep to show us the way and give us the confidence of being part of the flock. Jesus shows us a pattern of life which brings us closer to him.

Through the apostles teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer, we can thrive as his sheep and be brought through our current trials to future fresh pasture.

Affirmation of 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
in accordance with the Scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles:
this we have received,
and this we believe. Amen.

Intercessions

Let us bring our prayers before our risen Lord and Saviour.

Jesus, Lord of life: in your mercy, hear us.

We pray for the worldwide Church, scattered and worshipping in homes. We pray for Justin and Sentamu our archbishops and all who advise them. Inspire them with the Holy Spirit that the Church may thrive in isolation.

We pray for the worshipping communities of our villages, especially those who are isolated and unable to pray with us.

Help us to be good members of Christ’s flock, learning from the apostles, growing in fellowship, breaking bread and praying, that we may be prepared for those the Lord is adding to our number.

Jesus, Lord of life: in your mercy, hear us.

As our lives are dominated by the pandemic, we pray for all involved in working to combat Covid-19. We pray for frontline medical staff and all who support them, for research scientists and for keyworkers of all kinds, especially those who keep our food stocks supplied. We pray for the Queen and her government, and for civil servants.

Jesus, Lord of life: in your mercy, hear us.

We pray for our schools: for Mrs Jackson at Crayke and Miss Bennett at Husthwaite and for all their staff. We pray also for families dealing with the pressures of schooling their children at home and for all children who are lonely and missing their friends.

Jesus, Lord of life: in your mercy, hear us.

We pray for all who are sick, for all suffering with Covid-19, and for those who are fearful of catching it. We pray for those with terminal illness and for those recuperating from illness. We pray for all whose mental health is not good and for whom isolation is an increasing strain.

Jesus, Lord of life: in your mercy, hear us.

We hold before you all those we know who have died, those whose funerals we will conduct in the coming weeks. We pray that they may rest in peace and rise in glory.

Jesus, Lord of life: in your mercy, hear us.

The Lord’s Prayer

Gathering our prayers and praise into one, let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has 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.
Forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
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.

Gloria in Excelsis

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory .
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Praise

Alleluia. Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia.
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He has given us new life and hope.
He has raised Jesus from the dead.
God has claimed us as his own.
He has brought us out of darkness.
He has made us light to the world.
Alleluia. Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

The Peace

The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples and said, ‘Peace be with you.’
Then were they glad when they saw the Lord. Alleluia.

The peace of the Lord be always with you
and also with you.

The Blessing

God, who through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ
has given us the victory,
give you joy and peace in your faith;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

Go in the peace of Christ. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thanks be to God. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Copyright Notices

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Common Worship, material from which is included in this service, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council.