Sunday 25th April – Fourth Sunday of Easter




Hello and welcome to our service for the fourth Sunday of the Easter season. We are glad you are able to join us. You can watch the whole service run by clicking on the top playlist button. Alternatively, if you would rather follow all the words, scroll down a bit further and click on each section in turn as you come to them. We will start with a short organ piece to help us settle in for the service. You may join in the words or not as you like. Words in bold type are intended for everyone to say. You are also invited to say the Psalm with me, should you wish to, when we reach it in the service.

Call to worship

Let us worship God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Lord be with you,
And also with you.

This is the day that the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Lord, direct our thoughts and teach us to pray.
Lift up our hearts to worship you in spirit and in truth,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hymn – Alleluia, alleluia, hearts to heaven and voices raise


Most merciful God,
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned
in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy
forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be;
that we may do justly,
love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God.

Assurance of Forgiveness

May almighty God,
who sent his Son into the world to save sinners,
bring you his pardon and peace, now and for ever.


Blessed is the Lord,
For he has heard the voice of our prayer;
therefore shall our hearts dance for joy,
and in our song we will praise our God.


Acts 4: 5-12

Psalm 23

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3     he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
    through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    for ever


John 10: 11-18


The Lord is my shepherd – I lack nothing.
Yes, there is nothing I lack – my needs as a sheep are quite simple.
Regular food, water, somewhere safe to chew the cud and to sleep, protection from predators would be good – oh, and new lambs every year.

Comparing that with human lifestyles, it makes life as a human look exhaustingly complex and difficult. No wonder so many of us get tense and worried so often.

So, what do sheep need?
Food is simple – grass, not too long.
Water? – any still water is fine. If it is bubbling and splashy it goes up our nostrils and we can’t cope with that and won’t drink it.
Space and time to chew the cud – fine if there are no predators around.
New lambs every year – most necessary – we don’t live for ever!
Protection from predators – that is REALLY useful. Middle eastern sheep have longish legs, but can’t kick or bite effectively. We need shepherds for help with this.

The shepherds need to be good ones, mind. The ones who desert us when mountain lions or bears appear are useless. They couldn’t care less about us, they only care for their wages. A good Shepherd will protect us. He is prepared to risk his own life tackling mountain lions. He will go the extra mile or three to search for missing lambs and the sheep who have got stuck or lost.

Let’s translate that into what the qualities of a good Shepherd would be for humans.

Firstly, we need to remember that, unlike sheep, people don’t only have bodies, they have a non-physical side usually referred to as spirits or souls, too. So good shepherding for humans means looking after our bodies and our spirits or souls.

I expect you remember that, at the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis, when God made Adam, He formed Adam’s body out of the physical material of the ‘dust of the earth’. Then, He then breathed His ‘Ruach’, the Hebrew word that means Wind, Breath, or Spirit according to its context. It might be described as something that is invisible, yet moves, often related to life.

Wind will bring clouds with life-giving water.

Breath and breathing are vital for animal life, including human life.

Spirit is vital for humans in various ways including being able to have an active relationship with God.

Jesus was born in the form of a human baby as a result of the Holy Spirit coming upon Mary, and the power of the Most High overshadowing her, as Luke describes it in his gospel account. The church was born as a result of the Spirit of God descending on the disciples at Pentecost. A good Shepherd will help us keep our spiritual life as well as our physical life alive, and will encourage its growth.

Following Jesus and the Holy Spirit means protection from evil.

Just to be clear about the difference between good and evil in Hebrew thinking, let me explain a little. Pronouncing something as ‘Good’ in Hebrew terms means something that promotes life and healthy, positive relationships. Evil, or bad, refers to those things, thoughts or actions which promote anything from mildly damaging to decidedly destructive behaviour and relationships.

So, when we follow Jesus, as you probably all know, we are working towards healthy positive relationships with God, other people, AND, (this is often overlooked) an equally healthy relationship with ourselves, our inner being). In other words, as Jesus summed it up, we are to love our neighbours AS ourselves. In Jesus eyes this is as important as loving God with everything we’ve got.

And part of the Good News Jesus brought is that if we find we have damaged our relationship with our self, our neighbour or God, you will well know that if we repent, apologise, say “sorry “or in some way ask for forgiveness, God will respond. It is always good when our inner self or our neighbour respond too, so leaving us feeling forgiven straight away. It is also fair to say that sometimes our neighbour or our inner self may be slower to respond and we need to be patient.

If we find ourselves in such “dark places”, out of kilter with ourselves, other people or God, it really can feel like a dark place. But while we are aware that our good Shepherd is there, even though we can’t feel his presence as normal, just like the sheep in the Psalm, we need not FEAR the evil but be comfort in knowing that Jesus is with us and around us even when we cannot sense it very well or even at all. Sometimes it helps to ask someone we trust to pray for us or with us.

For sheep, the Shepherd in the Psalm has two tools at his disposal. There is the Staff. This is a long stick with a hook at the end to rescue sheep who have had a misadventure or need a helping lift out of trouble. The second one, commonly translated as ‘Rod’ is more like a sturdy mace with bits of stone and metal embedded into the business end of it, used to discourage or kill any would-be predators – in shepherding terms to see off any marauding mountain lions or bears.

Remembering that Jesus is able to rescue us and protect us when necessary is a comfort to us when we remember this.

Just as the sheep, despite having enemies around it, can appreciate the good Shepherd looking after it with physical food, we too can ‘feast’ on that sense of the good support that Jesus, our good Shepherd, came to give us.

As Peter says, at the end of our reading from Acts, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved”.

So, as the Psalm points out, Jesus our Good Shepherd is willing and able to look after us in the good times and rescue us in the bad times. Sometimes the only thing getting in the way of that is our wrong sort of pride. Challenging our pride so Jesus can help us may feel like a step we would rather not take, but I, and many other people can tell you – it’s worth it.

Then we can come to realise more and more how much goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives and ultimately realise the awareness of living in the house of the Lord for ever.

Affirmation of Faith

We believe in God the Father,
From whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens us with power from on high.

We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Hymn – Father, hear the prayer we offer


Response at the end of each section:
Jesus, Lord of life,
In your mercy, hear us

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


The Collect

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.

The Lord’s Prayer

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.

Offertory Prayer

Generous God, we thank you for all you have given us.
We thank you for all the ways that we can give to you in return.
We ask that through our gifts we will see your Kingdom grow
in our hearts and in our homes,
in our neighbourhoods and our nations;
to the glory of your name.

Hymn – In heavenly love abiding


The God of peace,
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great shepherd of the sheep,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.

Sending Out

We are raised to new life with Christ.
Go in his peace. Alleluia, alleluia.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia.

Recessional – The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want

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.

Sunday March 28th – Palm Sunday




Welcome in the name of Christ.
God’s grace, mercy and peace be with us all. Amen

Call to Worship (based on Psalm 118)

This is the day the Lord has made!
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good!

The Lord is our strength and our song.
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good!

He has become our victory!
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!

His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good!

Hymn – Ride On Ride On in Majesty

Prayer of Preparation

Lord God Almighty, we come to worship you.
In our imagination, we join with the crowds who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday.
We rejoice that we can share in the wonder and joy of that occasion and we ask that you will guide us in our worship today. Amen


Lord Jesus, you came to change the world.
Forgive us when we become complacent.

Lord Jesus, you came to serve others.
Forgive us when we put our own needs first.

Lord Jesus, you came to bring peace.
Forgive us when we upset others and don’t stand up for justice.

Lord Jesus, you came to meet us where we are.
Forgive us when we don’t help each other through our struggles.


May the God of love
bring us back to himself,
forgive us our sins,
and assure us of his eternal love
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Palm Sunday Bible reading based on Mark 11 1-11 & John 12 12-16

Hymn – We have a King who rides a donkey

Talk by Lucy Willshaw

Hello everyone. It is lovely to be with you here today and to be part of your family service for Palm Sunday.

For those of you who I haven’t met yet, my name is Lucy Willshaw and, since last autumn, I have been working as a youth and children’s worker in the Byland Group of Churches and also in Ampleforth and Kirkdale Benefices and Helmsley Parish. I have lived in Helmsley for twenty years and so I know and love this area very much. I am very much part of the local church community and I see my new role as a real gift, in that I am able to put time into reaching out to young people in a way that isn’t usually possible for churches in small, rural communities. I am really looking forward to being able to get out and about and more involved with life in the Byland Group as restrictions begin to ease.

But let’s get back to today! Today, we have been hearing all about what happened on the first Palm Sunday, about two thousand years ago in Jerusalem. I wonder what your favourite part of the story is. Maybe it is the donkey – the fact that Jesus knew just where to send the disciples to find it and that he chose a donkey over something grand, like a horse to ride into Jerusalem on. Maybe you like the fact that the crowd covered the road with cloaks and leaves to make a carpet for the donkey to walk on. Maybe you like the words the crowd were shouting – “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Whichever bit you liked best, we know that there were lots of people gathered and there was a great deal of noise and celebration.

Celebration. There doesn’t seem to have been much of that in the last twelve months, does there? But I am sure we have all found moments of celebration in the last year. I wonder what sorts of things you have celebrated… birthdays, Christmas, finally learning the 7 times table, a new job, Yorkshire Day, going back to school. Human beings love to celebrate special occasions and achievements.

And I wonder how we celebrate?

In normal times, one of the important things in a celebration is being able to gather together with family and friends. And in Jerusalem crowds of people gathered along the road when Jesus was arriving. I imagine that people were there in family groups or with their friends. They lined the streets in excitement just like we might do if we heard someone famous was visiting our town or village, or there was a special parade.

Our celebrations often centre around food – a birthday cake, chocolate at Easter time, a particular meal. And after Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, he did go on to have a special meal, with his friends, to celebrate the Passover Festival.

We might wave things around as part of a celebration – streamers or flags or balloons. And in Jerusalem they waved palm branches as Jesus approached.

And we like to sing and chant and play music at a party or celebration. We have heard that everyone in Jerusalem was making a right old racket!

I wonder what Jesus thought of all the people and all the noise as he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey that day… I think he certainly would have liked all the noise, because in the Bible it says, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

So, no wonder we like a celebration if Jesus did! Just as those people in Jerusalem celebrated two thousand years ago, it is only right that we should celebrate with Jesus and celebrate Jesus, full stop. And not only should we should celebrate with the people of Jerusalem today, on Palm Sunday, but also in all areas of our lives.

Do you know, we have got a whole year coming up to do some extra celebrating! In the Diocese of York, a festival called the Children of Light Festival has just begun. This is a whole year of celebrating and encouraging young people in our churches. It began last weekend with a commissioning service led by the Archbishop of York, in which young people were sent out as beacons of light into their churches. I wonder what that means to you … to be a beacon of light. We have been through some dark and sad times in the last twelve months and we all want to see light at the end of the tunnel. Light is connected to hope. Young people are full of light and hope and life – something some of us older people in churches should remember and respect and learn from.

There will be some special events to get involved with and to enjoy together over the next year. But also, the year is about churches recognising how important it is to have young people as part of their church family and what they can do to encourage and nurture young people in their faith and as part of the church community. It wouldn’t have been just adults welcoming Jesus in Jerusalem two thousand years ago, children would have been there too, and our churches should reflect that, everyone welcoming and following Jesus together. And to help with that, the diocese will be providing training and resources, throughout the year, specifically to help churches and schools as they seek to inspire and support young people in their faith.

The year is about pilgrimage – going on a journey together – young people and older people together – travelling in faith and companionship. Just as Jesus journeyed with his disciples into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, in celebration and hope, so we journey together with Jesus throughout this year and beyond.

Do you know what else I think the festival is an opportunity for? I think it is time for young people to make a noise – just like the crowds who lined the streets on the way into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. It’s time to sing and shout and get noticed! It’s time for churches to listen to young people.

That’s something worth celebrating, isn’t it?

We will now enjoy another song – Hosanna Rock.

Hymn – Hosanna Rock

Our Affirmation of faith

Do you believe and trust in God the Father,
source of all being and life,
the one for whom we exist?
We believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in God the Son,
who took our human nature,
died for us and rose again?
We believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit,
who gives life to the people of God
and makes Christ known in the world?
We believe and trust in him.

This is the faith of the Church.
This is our faith.

We believe and trust in one God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Collect for Palm Sunday

True and humble King, hailed by the crowd as Messiah:
grant us the faith to know you and love you,
that we may be found beside you on the way of the cross,
which is the path of glory. Amen

Offertory Prayer

Gracious God, accept our gifts
and with them our lives
to be used in your service
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen


In our prayers, we look towards Holy Week and to walking the way of the cross with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Lord Jesus, as we remember the crowds cheering on Palm Sunday when you rode into Jerusalem, we thank you for everything good in our lives.
Holy God, be with us this Holy Week

Lord Jesus, as we remember Holy Monday, when you turned over the tables of the money lenders in the temple, remind us of all the things that are so much more important than money.
Holy God, be with us this Holy Week

Lord Jesus, as we remember Holy Tuesday, when you taught the crowds about kindness and compassion in the Kingdom of God, help us to look after one another and to see God in all people.
Holy God, be with us this Holy Week

Lord Jesus, as we remember Holy Wednesday, when the woman poured expensive perfume all over your feet, help us to be generous people and to do what we can for people in need.
Holy God, be with us this Holy Week

Lord Jesus, as we remember Holy Thursday, when you ate supper with your friends, help us to be good friends and neighbours, and to share things willingly and unconditionally.
Holy God, be with us this Holy Week

Lord Jesus, as we remember Good Friday, when you were crucified, even though you had done nothing wrong, we pray for people who suffer, and we remember that you care for us all.
Holy God, be with us this Holy Week

Lord Jesus, as we remember Holy Saturday, when all was quiet and dark and no-one visited the tomb, we pray for people who feel alone; help us to be a comfort to one another.
Holy God, be with us this Holy Week

Lord Jesus, together we look forward to Easter Sunday, remembering that God has promised new life for all and that there is nothing, not even death, that can overcome His love for us.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

Sending Out

Merciful God, as we enter Holy Week, turn our hearts again to Jerusalem
and to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Stir up within us the gift of faith, that we may not only praise Him with our lips,
but may follow Him in the way of the cross.

Hymn: Meekness and Majesty

Blessing & Dismissal

May the road rise up to meet us.
May the wind be always at our back.
May the sun shine warm upon our face;
the rains fall soft upon our fields and, until we meet again,
may God hold us in the palm of His hand

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.

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.