Service for Sunday 3rd May 2020


A Service for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

 

Preparation:

Before beginning to read this short service, you may wish to find a space for prayer in front of a cross, a candle, or a special place.  During the Easter Season we call to mind the days when our Lord passed from death to life and appeared to his disciples and spoke with them.  

 

May the light of Christ, rising in glory, banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.

 

Alleluia.  Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed.  Alleluia

 

 

The Collect

 

Let us pray that we may walk the risen life of Christ in glory.

 

Silence is kept.

 

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 First Hymn

 

The Lord is Risen Indeed  - please access Simon’s accompaniment here: 

https://youtu.be/CvPLIs9G5bs

 

1 The Lord is risen indeed;

now is his work performed;

now is the mighty captive freed,

and death's strong castle stormed.

 

2 The Lord is risen indeed:

then hell has lost his prey;

with him is risen the ransomed seed

to reign in endless day.

 

3 The Lord is risen indeed:

he lives, to die no more;

he lives, the sinner's cause to plead,

whose curse and shame be bore.

 

4 The Lord is risen indeed:

attending angels, hear!

up to the courts of heaven with speed

the joyful tidings bear.

 

5 Then take your golden lyres

and strike each cheerful chord;

join, all the bright celestial choirs,

to sing our risen Lord

 

 

The Reading:

Acts 2: 42-end

 

The Gospel:

John 10: 1-10

 

Homily

 

St John’s Gospel, chapter 10 verse 7: “So Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep’.”

 

Jesus as the Good Shepherd is a familiar picture to us of our Lord as one who both leads and protects. But what of the image of the door to the sheepfold as a particular and meaningful description of Christ with us?  This door of the sheep is the way into safety; it is the path to sanctuary, but also to a new adventure, so maybe it holds both meanings: the inspired way to something new, as well as the reassuring gateway where one is held secure.  

Doors can allow people to emerge into something new and secure, but can also sometimes lead from safety to the risks of an unprotected adventure, such as the children found in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, but in the case before us today, Jesus, as the door of the sheep, is surely the gate to salvation; the way of the pilgrim; the opening to a safe space for the lost and oppressed, and for those preparing for new ventures, seeking fresh inspiration and direction. 

In illustration of this interpretation, let us think of a Judean house with a small fenced or walled courtyard, with animals, and the gate in that fence or wall that gives access.  In John chapter 18 verses 15 to 17 we read about just such a courtyard, although perhaps quite a grand one, at the high priest’s house.  Simon Peter was following Jesus to the place to which his master was being taken, and, rather boldly, “he entered the court of the high priest […] and stood outside at the door”.  We then hear, twice, of, “the maid who kept the door”.   This again is seen to be a protective role, one that is deemed to create a filter.  A disciple who was known and recognised was allowed through without question, but Peter was challenged thus, “Are you not also one of this man’s disciples.”  This is all leading to the moment of Peter’s denial.

As we envisage this dark night for Jesus and his disciples, so it places a different complexion on the picture of the gate for the sheep than one which is simply a gap in wattle hurdles out in the country.  But maybe, as we read of the porter at the gate, the picture at the high priest’s house could be the more helpful image.  Through this gate Jesus passed; within he is with both strangers and supporters.  The sheep “hear” the voice of the shepherd; he calls his own and they are led out.  Surely all of this happened as our Lord was tried and condemned; as those sympathetic or even supportive of his cause felt close in spirit to this young rabbi, whilst those who had already condemned him in their hearts, were deaf to anything that he might say.  In the few verses following today’s Gospel, our Lord speaks of the Good Shepherd laying down his life for the sheep, and to give life, abundant life, to those who enter the gate by him.

Jesus has told us that he is the “way” as well as the “truth” and the “life”.  This entrance to the sheepfold, that can be imagined in the mind’s eye, whether in a pastoral scene or in this picture that I hold before you of the protected courtyard gate at the high priest’s house, helps the searching Christian to contemplate the combination of reassurance and welcome that is portrayed in Christ drawing all people to himself - with the desire and intent to work with others of all faiths and none in creating a better, more compassionate and just world, especially in times of uncertainty and fear. 

In these extraordinary days in which we live, something of a mantra is the observation, “We don’t know how this is going to end”.  What we have is time, which can be given to this search for understanding, and feel for discernment, that involves us all, as we listen to the scientific evidence on virus transmission and how it might be limited, and watch with concerned interest as to how a partial release in lockdown is working in Germany, and other countries a little further on than us.  There are many things to which there is no perfect solution, but as the disciples felt in times of great challenge for them, there are things that can be done, and there are constant opportunities for prayerful support for those who can do what we cannot.  

It is comforting too, as we hold the vision of our Lord as like a gate before us, ushering us onwards, for a new vision of just how the service of Christ in the world may be harnessed to a closer fellowship within the body, within his flock, as days pass into weeks and we adjust to new ways and seek the guidance of the Good Shepherd.  He who holds open the gate to the sheepfold of his disciples, facilitates our passing in to the security of the fellowship of the flock, and out in adventurous service in the world.

John Mann

 

Second Hymn

 

The Day of Resurrection https://youtu.be/X7EIBo1l9Kg

 

1 The day of resurrection!

Earth, tell it out abroad;

the Passover of gladness,

the Passover of God.

From death to life eternal,

from earth unto the sky,

our God hath brought us over,

with hymns of victory.

 

2 Our hearts be pure from evil,

that we may see aright

the Lord in rays eternal

of resurrection light;

and listening to his accents,

may hear, so calm and plain,

his own "All hail!" and, hearing,

may raise the victor strain.

 

3 Now let the heavens be joyful!

Let earth the song begin!

Let the round world keep triumph,

and all that is therein!

Let all things seen and unseen

their notes in gladness blend,

for Christ the Lord hath risen,

our joy that hath no end.

 

Prayers

Almighty God grant us hearts alive in the Spirit of the risen Christ as we bring our intercessions before your throne of mercy and grace

Almighty God we give thanks for your Church throughout the world; for its unity and mission to a divided and broken world.  Keep us firm in the hope that is ours in Christ Jesus, and may his peace be the bond of fellowship that helps the strong to uphold the weak, and brings the vulnerable and the lonely Christians who live in persecution and fear to know your presence in their distress.  Bless Nicholas and Karen our Bishops, and all who serve you across our team of churches in leadership and supportive roles

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our Prayer

Father, cause the bright light of your guidance to fall upon all discussions undertaken to solve the conflicts and challenges of this world, especially in these days of worldwide pandemic.  To the leaders of nations with international responsibility give wisdom and a vision of a world of justice and equality, of mutual concern and common support.  To those supporting the many who have fled their homes anxious for their families, seeking a new and safer life of hope and opportunity, grant grace and encouragement.  May your love surround all victims of war, famine and disease, and turn our concern into action, and may our prayer change us too, in our knowledge of you, and your Son, Jesus Christ.  Renew us in your Spirit.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our Prayer.

Lord, we bring before you our local civic leaders and all who direct and work in the hospitals, care homes, schools, commercial and retail operations throughout the Isle of Purbeck and beyond.  Prosper the work of those who encourage a good working environment for all, whether that is at home or within the constraints of social distancing in shops and other public places.  We pray too for those involved in transport and all who seek to support the homeless and those in financial or other difficulty. 

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus Christ, the sick were brought to you and you laid your hands upon them; spoke words that drew them to a place of healing; granted recovery; make whole the broken.  Look in your mercy on those whom we bear on our hearts today and bring them your healing.  To the dying grant forgiveness and peace, reassurance and the light that is perpetual and divine.  To those living through loss, carry them in their weakness and give them your strength.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

 

The Lord’s Prayer

 

A few moments of silence before we say the….. 

 

Easter acclamations:

 

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.

 

God the Father,

by whose love Christ was raised from the dead,

open to all who believe the gates of everlasting life.

Amen.

God the Son,

who in bursting from the grave has won a glorious victory,

give us joy as we share the Easter faith.

Amen.

God the Holy Spirit,

who filled the disciples with the life of the risen Lord,

empower us and fill us with Christs peace.

Amen.

 

 

Fugue on “”Magnificat” J.S.Bach https://youtu.be/0b18pIMlBmU