A service for the 4th Sunday of Easter

A Service for the Fourth Sunday of Easter



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.




The First Hymn


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



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 4: 5-12

The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, ‘By what power or by what name did you do this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is

“the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;

   it has become the cornerstone.” 

There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.’


The Gospel:

John 10: 11-18

‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.’



Jesus said: 

“I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep” (verses 14 and 15).

Some of you may know of the west-country poet Alice Oswald.  She has published several acclaimed books of poetry, though she is known primarily for one early book-length poem entitled “Dart” which relates a journey from the source of the river Dart, high on Dartmoor along the length of the river to the sea.  She speaks of the many people who live on and near the river and of their relationship to it.  At one point her observations fall on an elderly couple who once a month visit a local hotel.  They are both to some extent infirm, he is blind, she is in her ninties and hard of hearing.  When they come each month their habit is to walk with the help of a member of staff from the hotel to a nearby waterfall.  Alice Oswald writes: “They come every month walking very slowly to the waterfall, She guides him, he props her.  She sees it, he hears it.”  The picture is of a loving couple intent upon sharing what they are able to do with the other, who has lost that particular capacity.  There is a sense of them being quietly shepherded by a chambermaid in what has become a monthly ritual for them, but the mild sting is in the next line of the poem which reads that they were, “Gently resenting each other’s slowness”.  What appears as a wonderful example of how life may be lived with a positive determination to help another we love and to receive from them an aid in our weakness is marred by an irritation and impatience that seems inappropriate. We shall come back to this point in a moment.

When Jesus said that he is the Good Shepherd, he recognised several things that are noted in the passage from St John that is our appointed Gospel for today.  He noted that the relationship between the shepherd and his sheep is dependent upon mutual knowledge and that this knowledge reflects the even deeper and crucial mutual understanding that exists between Jesus and his Father. So many times in the course of the Gospels we see this being underlined, even from the cross the cry of desolation, “My God, my God, why hast though forsaken me” demonstrates through the feeling of a relationship broken, that the bonds of the Trinity are of such strength of love that it is impossible for us to completely model them.  

As well as this mutual understanding between the shepherd and his sheep, mirroring the understanding within the Godhead itself, Saint John also records the words of Jesus that show that the Good Shepherd is seeking not just the lost within the flock, but others who do not know him and are not seeking him; they are in fact of another fold.  He speaks also of the need for the shepherd to lay down his life for his sheep, but that this quality of self-sacrifice is not to be seen in someone who is hired for the job; shepherding is a product of love, of knowledge, of understanding and of possession.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, speaks of this flock as “his own”, “I know my own and my own know me”.  

Do you feel Jesus addressing you in these words, “I know my own and my own know me”?  This is essentially the relationship between Jesus and his people; between our Lord and us.  We are individuals who can stray and lose sight of what is happening around us, in terms of the other Christians who are part with us in the living body of Christ’s flock, but we also relate to the Good Shepherd together – and in one sense know him from the standpoint and dynamic of a group.  To bring this home to us, in whichever church of which we are a part, what this means is, that we have the clear definition of our part of the flock but we are also part with those of the larger flock of all Christian people and still beyond this we live conscious of the searching heart of God in flocks that do not recognise his Son; that cannot see the Good Shepherd - or fail to acknowledge him.

The mission of the early Church brought many from other cultures and traditions to meet Jesus, be challenged by his claims and to find their peace and purpose in him.  Today there are Christians, part of the flock, in every corner of the world, as the mission of the Church, respectful of the faith of others, but eager to share the Good News, continues to ensure that the words and works of Jesus are known.

The walk of faith can be somewhat like the walk of the elderly couple to the waterfall; there is a sense in which purpose and habit and ritual are all bound up in this little journey, during which they are supporting one another and are also being supported from outside.  Yet it is a walk and a journey, not without its pain and frustration, though primarily the positive attributes that each receives and gives on the pilgrim path: guidance, the prop of support, the ability that some have to see shared with the ability of others to hear.  These are all experienced within the wider and external feeling of being shepherded, by someone who knows us, knows what we are capable of and what we cannot manage.  We may want to move faster and be frustrated even by those who we seek to help and are also giving us support; but the shepherd knows best and we leave ourselves in his hand.

Day by day in family life this is our experience.  From our abilities and within our limitations we may want to set the pace even for those we love; the same goes for the parish; each of us brings our strengths and our weaknesses.  We are guided by the Good Shepherd and need to heed his voice.  Some of us are good at guidance, others excel in propping; some have a clear vision to see, others might not be able to see the way, but can hear what the shepherd is saying.  This is a powerful model for how a parish moves forward together, but we do so knowing that the Good Shepherd knows his sheep and can and does sacrifice himself that we may know him.  

These are thoughts worth dwelling on: “Are you one who guides, one who props, one who sees, or one who hears?”  Maybe you do a few of these things, but let us see them related to the one who does them all, ultimately, perfectly, completely: Jesus, the Good Shepherd of us all.  He also bears with our impatience, intolerance, frustration and sin; for those things we must repent, as we are restored to the fold from our wanderings and are, ourselves drawn to seek for the lost in his name. 

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.



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.


God the Son,

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

give us joy as we share the Easter faith.


God the Holy Spirit,

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

empower us and fill us with Christ’s peace.


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