Sunday 25th April – Fourth Sunday of Easter

WHOLE SERVICE

INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS

Welcome

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.
Amen.

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

Confession

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.
Amen.

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.
Amen.

Praise

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.

Reading

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

Reading

John 10: 11-18

Sermon

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.
Amen.

Hymn – Father, hear the prayer we offer

Prayers

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.

Amen.

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.
Amen

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.
Amen.

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.
Amen.

Hymn – In heavenly love abiding

Blessing

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.
Amen

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 24th January: Third Sunday of Epiphany

YouTube playlist

Click on the PLAY button to see the whole service:

Service written out

Welcome & Greeting

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

Hymn – Tell out my soul

Prayer of Preparation

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.
Amen.

Collect for Third Sunday of Epiphany

Almighty God,
whose Son revealed in signs and miracles
the wonder of your saving presence:
renew your people with your heavenly grace,
and in all our weakness
sustain us by your mighty power;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Confession

We confess to you our selfishness and lack
of love:
fill us with your spirit
Lord have mercy & fit us for your Kingdom.

We confess to you our fear and failure in
sharing our faith:
fill us with your spirit
Lord have mercy & fit us for your Kingdom.

We confess to you our weakness and
lack of trust:
fill us with your spirit
Lord have mercy & fit us for your Kingdom.

Absolution

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.

Hymn – Jesus’ love is very wonderful

Gospel reading: John 2 1-11 The Wedding at Cana (International Children’s version)

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

Talk

I love a wedding. Such a celebration, especially if I’ve been invited to share in the occasion. How exciting! Which hat should I wear? What outfit will I put on? How can I transform myself into a wedding guest?

When we go into school to tell “Open the Book” Bible stories to the children , we often transform ourselves and the children, into different characters by wearing different clothes. At the Wedding at Cana, Jesus transformed water into something special, and so let me tell you all about “The Wedding Feast”.

It was a wonderful day- a wedding day. And all the village of Cana had been invited to the wedding feast- a huge party that was going to last all week. Everyone had come to celebrate with the bride and the groom and their families- everyone had come to dance and sing songs, to eat and drink to their hearts content.

Jesus and his mother, Mary, were among the guests- and they joined in with the laughing and the dancing, the singing and the feasting. And everyone was happy as the party went on and on.

Well, almost everyone. The bridegrooms father was sitting in a corner, with his head in his hands, talking to himself “What am I going to do? What am I going to do? What am I going to do?”

Jesus’ mother noticed him and walked over to where he sat. “What’s the matter?” she asked. The worried man replied “Look and see. Everyone is enjoying themselves- my son, his beautiful bride, all our guests, the whole village. But we have run out of wine and I don’t know what to do. There’s no more, its all been drunk, all that is left is in the jugs on the tables, and when that runs out, the party will stop. And its all my fault. Everyone will know how poor we are. Everyone will know we couldn’t afford to buy more wine and hold such a big party. My son, his bride, our family, we will be so embarrassed”.

“Try not to worry” said Mary “I’ll see what I can do”. She walked back and sat down next to Jesus. “Son”, she whispered “ nudging him in the ribs “they’ve run out of wine”. “Dear mother” he said “I don’t think that’s anything to with me. My time hasn’t come yet”. Mary gave him a look and smiled. Then she turned to the waiting servants. “Do whatever he tells you” she said. Jesus stood up and said to them, “You see those jars over there?” The servants looked and saw six large stone jars which were normally used to hold water for washing. “Fill those with water.” Jesus told them. So they filled them with water, right up to the brim. Lots of water- about 700 litres! “Now”, said Jesus, “draw out some of the water from the jars and take it to the master of the feast” and he sat back down again and let them get on with it.

The servants looked at each other. Had Jesus gone mad? Why would the master of the feast want to taste water? But they remembered Marys’ words, “Do whatever he tells you”. So they did as Jesus had said. When the master of the feast tasted the water he gave a great big grin, “I’ve no idea where this has come from, but it is wonderful”, he said. “In fact, I don’t think I have tasted better wine in the whole of my life!”

The servants looked at each other. “Wine? Did he say wine?” “But we filled the jars with water” they murmured to each other.

The master of the feast was so amazed that he called the bridegrooms father over to him and said,” Listen! I know you and your family have paid for all this party, but this is unheard of. Usually people bring the best wine out first, and then, when everyone is a little bit tipsy, they produce the cheap stuff. But you have saved your best wine until now! and there are litres of it!”

The bridegrooms father looked at Mary and at Jesus and smiled a thank you smile. Thanks to Jesus, there was no way the wine would run out. The wedding party would go on. It really was a wonderful day.

Hymn – Wide, wide as the ocean

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.
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

Prayers

Dear God our Father.
We know that you love everyone of us and you want us to be filled with joy; living life in all its fullness.
You love us to celebrate in and out of church; to be joyful and full of your love.
Let us hold our families and friends in our hearts and prayers until we can celebrate together again.
Amen

Dear God, please support in your loving arms, our church leaders and our teachers.
As we face lockdown and also the vacancy, we may feel rather rudderless.
Guide us forward, as we try to find the best and safest ways to worship and serve you. Dear God, please bless and look after our families, our friends and our neighbours.
Be with us in lockdown again, as we feel uncertain and unsettled.
May your endless love comfort all those who are anxious; who are still isolated; who are still unable to see or hug their family.
God, please show us, as the communities of the Byland Churches, the best way to share your love with those around us.

Loving God
Hear our prayer

We pray especially for Stephen, for our lay leaders and for our Churchwardens.
Be with them as they negotiate the path to finding us a new incumbent.
We pray for our teachers working hard in these difficult times to keep learning going and to keep our children safe.
May they all know your boundless love.

Loving God
Hear our prayer

Dear God, we pray for world leaders and for our own government as they face such difficulties and as we all continue to navigate this pandemic.
We give huge thanks for the scientists and all those who have worked so brilliantly to produce a vaccine and give us hope for an improvement in 2021.
We pray that nations will learn to work together better and to look outwards from themselves; to see the global picture and work for justice and for peace for all.
May they look to your example of selflessness and abundant grace.

Loving God
Hear our prayer

Dear God, we pray for all those who are unwell, particularly those suffering from COVID, and all who are suffering in any way.
We pray too for all those who care for them – who are themselves under such strain at the moment.
As so many of us are missing human love and contact with others, we pray that we will not forget that you are always there Lord; that we never need to be isolated from you and your all-embracing love.
We lift to you anyone we know who needs our prayers today, for whatever reason.
May they feel the reassurance and comfort of your love.

Loving God
Hear our prayer

Dear God, hold us and keep us safe, we pray.
Help us to take time to pray, to listen and to take your advice.
Encourage us all to work together and to use our talents to grow your kingdom here in these villages.
We pray that we will feel the strength of your love; that it will nourish and sustain us as we support each other on the path ahead.

Loving God
Hear our prayer

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.

Hymn – Great is thy faithfulness

Sending Out and Blessing

We go into the world in the name of Christ,
with the love of God
and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We go, but we do not go alone.
We go together and Christ goes with us. Amen

May Jesus,
who turned water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana,
transform our lives and make glad our hearts.
And may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be upon us and remain with us always.
Amen

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.