CALL TO WORSHIP: (Based on Psalm 100)
ONE: Shout with joy to the Lord! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before Him, singing with joy! Know that the Lord is God!
ALL: He made us and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
ONE: Enter His gates with thanksgiving, go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His name.
ALL: For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation.
WELCOME: This is what the Lord God says: I, myself, will search for my sheep. I will take care of them. A shepherd will take care of his scattered flock when it is found. In the same way I will take care of my sheep. I will save them from all the places where they are scattered. (Ezekiel 34:11-12)
PRAYER TO THE GOOD SHEPHERD & THE LORD'S PRAYER: Lord of the 23rd Psalm,
I have known death, and You have refreshed my soul. I have known fear, and You have comforted me. I have known hunger, and You have set a feast before me. In the darkest valley no calamity of humankind or nature has separated us.
Teach me to walk as You walk, beside those in mourning, so they will know joy. Beside those in fear that they will know comfort. Beside those in hunger that they will feast until their cup overflows. As Your goodness and love follow me, may mine follow my neighbour that the threat of the worst terrors may turn to the knowledge of the comforts of the house of the Lord, where You have invited us to dwell forever. And so let me strive to help build on earth what You have promised us in heaven. In the face of all calamity, present and yet to come, let me lead my neighbour beside quiet waters, the quiet waters of the Good Shepherd.
Now let us pray together the prayer Jesus 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, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
As followers of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, we like to help His work of taking care of others. We give You this offering today and with it we worship You and give our whole selves to You. Please take it and use it for Your kingdom and Your glory. Extend and multiply its reach and influence we pray. May it be a great blessing to many. We ask all this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
PRAYER OF INTERCESSION:
Confident that the Lord's love for us has no end, we bring forward our needs and the needs of others, all over the world. We pray for those who serve and lead in the Church, that they may follow the example of Christ, the Good Shepherd. (pause for silent prayer) we pray for all members of the caring professions, that the Lord's compassion may be visible in them. (pause) We pray for young people deciding how they will spend their lives, that they may consider serving God's people. (pause) We pray for farmers and those who work on the land, that they may show respect for all God's creation. (pause) We pray for people who call on the name of the Lord Jesus in their sufferings, that they may experience God's healing power. (pause) We pray for all who have gone on before us in faith, that they may see God, face to face. (pause)
God of beauty and compassion, You love us as a shepherd loves all the flock. Continue to support Your people with Your grace, we pray, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
SPECIAL MUSIC: "The Silence Of The Lambs" - Norm
MEDITATION: The Good Shepherd
The Good Shepherd
When I was preparing this morning's meditation, I was reminded of a story. Kevin and Ryan, ages five and three, were waiting for breakfast one Saturday morning. As their mother was preparing some pancakes, the boys began to argue loudly over who would get the first one from the griddle. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson and said, "If Jesus were sitting here, he would say, 'Let my brother have the first pancake — I can wait.'" Kevin immediately turned to his younger brother and said, "Okay, Ryan, you be Jesus."
This little story is about sacrifice and for some it's not an easy thing to do. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice by giving His life for us. He paid the ultimate price to save all of us from sin. I guess by now you've figured out that this Sunday has been devoted to the Good Shepherd.
Typically, Good Shepherd Sunday is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Easter, but since we're breaking for summer vacation and will be separated from each other for a while, I thought today would be a good day to talk about the Good Shepherd.
We all know who the Good Shepherd is, right? I learned 'way back when I was a little girl in Sunday School that Jesus was the Good Shepherd. But it wasn't until much later that I really understood all that the name stood for.
Let's start with Jesus himself. In the Bible, there are well over 2000 different titles and names used to describe Jesus Christ. Many of these are how Jesus described himself. He was called Lamb of God, Bread of Life, Light of the World, The Way, The Word, The Truth, The Door and the Son Of Man, just to name a few.
In this morning's scripture reading from John 10, Jesus said "I am the Gate (or Door)" and "I am the Good Shepherd." I've talked about this passage before, but I'm talking a slightly different direction this time.
In the time of Jesus, the shepherd was very important. Sheep are totally defenseless and absolutely dependent on the shepherd. Even the sound of running water can frighten them. There were many kinds of dangers and it was really important for the shepherd to keep a watchful eye on his flock. Heavy rains could cause flash floods and sweep the sheep away. Robbers were a constant threat, coming in the night to steal the sheep. Wolves could attack the
flock at any given moment. Remember the story of David, a young shepherd boy, who killed a bear and a lion while watching his father's flock.
Weather also played a part in the shepherd's care of his flock. Driving winter snow and blowing and burning sand in summer. A shepherd's hours were long and lonely, but a good shepherd's main focus was the care of his flock. In fact, many shepherds gave up their lives in face of grave danger just to protect their sheep.
Jesus tells us that a good shepherd does three things: 1) He cares for his sheep; 2) he makes sure the sheep know him and know his voice; and 3) he lays down his life for his flock.
Jesus compares 'caring for his sheep' with the shepherd who is not so caring the one who abandons his sheep when a wild animal comes to prey; the one who abandons his sheep at the first sign of any danger. Jesus tells us that a good shepherd is the one who takes care of his flock even when he is put in harm's way. This is what the Good Shepherd does.
Jesus tells us that a good shepherd is known by his flock. Jesus repeats this several times, emphasizing its importance. This is the point when it should become clear that Jesus isn't talking about actual sheep or actual shepherds. Jesus is talking about himself and each one of us. Jesus is telling us that He has given His life for us so that we may be brought closer to God and truly know and follow His ways.
Jesus gave his life on the cross as the Good Shepherd. Through His willing sacrifice, Jesus made salvation possible for all who come to Him in faith. It is only through Him that we can receive salvation. "I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep and they know me."
I'm going to hold up a couple of pictures. First, this is a picture of what? (a crutch). What is a crutch used for? It provides support under the arm to help someone walk if his leg is injured or weak. It can assist a person with balance problems and help him to perform daily activities more easily.
Now, this is a picture of a___________ ? (ladder) What are ladders used for?
Ladders are used for reaching high places: for putting things away in storage; for changing a light bulb; for painting or cleaning walls and ceilings; for cleaning out the eaves troughs, cutting tree branches, and many other uses.
So crutches are used by the lame, injured and weak, and ladders are used by stronger, healthier people to gain access to higher places. Did you ever realize that some people use God as a crutch and others think of God as a ladder? Those who think of God as a crutch go limping through life. However, those who think of Him as a ladder climb up to higher things.
Don't get me wrong. We need crutches. People are always getting hurt and some will never walk like the rest of us do. But we need ladders to do the work of the world. How do you think of God: as a crutch to help you out of trouble, or to lean on when you're hurt; or are you a strong person who regards God as a ladder to climb in order that you may reach the best in life?
God will be a crutch for you to lean on if you should hurt yourself, but you don't want to be a lame Christian all your life and go limping into heaven. We are always answering God's call to walk a great life journey of faith. A journey that will enable our love for God and others to grow. Let God strengthen us and nourish us as we take that journey. It's an easy journey if we follow the Good Shepherd.
I always go back to that part of Jesus' story where He tells us the sheep know him and know His voice. The sheep hear the shepherd's voice and are comforted by it. A voice to which they are irresistibly and powerfully drawn.
God calls to us, too, each one of us. But sometimes we don't hear His voice or even recognize it. No matter what we've done, or how far we've strayed, God calls to us. He wants us to climb the ladder, step by step, as He climbs with us.
We are the sheep and Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He loves us, He takes care of us, He makes sure we have everything we need. He was even willing to give His life so that you and I could live with Him forever. There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus really loves His sheep.
Let us pray: Our dear Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, You count us to make sure we are all safe, secure and content. We can't go astray without You knowing and going out to look for us. What a wonderful feeling of security. You always go beyond what is expected in looking after Your children. You see to it that we are refreshed after a hectic day. You restore our emotions. Thank You for that kind of caring love. In Your name we pray, Amen.
SPECIAL MUSIC: "Goin' Up To Heaven To Live In Green Pastures" - Norm
BENEDICTION & CHORAL AMEN:
The Lord takes care of His people like a shepherd. He gathers the people like lambs in His arms. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, always loves us, always takes care of us and always listens to us when we pray to Him. Go now in His care. Trust Him, follow Him