COCU34C.Easter4C.12thMay2019

Readings

Acts 9:36-43: Peter raises Tabitha of Joppa, which brings many people to faith.

Psalm 23: David’s famous Psalm of thanksgiving, praise and confidence in God for the gift of life.

Revelation 7:9-17: The hosts of heaven praise God, and the martyrs rejoice in the God who is their Shepherd.

John 10:22-30: Jesus speaks of himself as the Shepherd of his followers who are the sheep he cares for, and who know his voice.
(Bible readings summary by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Online Resources:
Textweek.com; and on Facebook, The Text This Week.
John van de Laar, Sacredise.
Gospel Feelings resources.

shepherd voice

Collect
Living God,
long ago, faithful women
proclaimed the good news
of Jesus’ resurrection,
and the world was changed forever.
Teach us to keep faith with them,
that our witness may be as bold,
our love as deep,
and our faith as true. Amen. (Vanderbilt Library)

Collect:
Creator of the universe,
you made the world in beauty,
and restore all things in glory
through the victory of Jesus Christ.
We pray that, wherever your image is still disfigured
by poverty, sickness, selfishness, war and greed,
the new creation in Jesus Christ may appear in justice, love, and peace,
to the glory of your name. Amen. (Vanderbilt Library)

Prayer for gathering or contemplation – Julian of Norwich (1342-1416)
In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss.
In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving.
You are our mother, brother, and Saviour. In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit, is marvellous and plenteous grace.
You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us.
You are our maker, our lover, our keeper.
Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well,
and all manner of things shall be well. Amen

Call to worship (based on Revelation 7: 9,10,15-17)
There was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes, nations and languages, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 

They cried out with a loud voice, saying, 

“Salvation belongs to our God!
”
They worship God day and night. God offers shelter to them. 

They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; 

God will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

Let us worship God this day!


Opening Prayer (inspired by Psalm 23, John 10)
Loving Shepherd,
you know our names;
you care for us.
When we face darkness and death,
walk beside us.
When we hunger for your love,
fill us with your presence.
When we are fearful,
feed us at your table.
May we dwell in the house of goodness and mercy
all the days of our lives. Amen.
(Mary Petrina Boyd, Ministry Matters)

Call to worship
(Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16-24)
Day by day, God leads us:
to the deep, deep pools of peace,
to the green, lush lawns of grace.
Day by day, Jesus calls us:
to pour out ourselves in service,
to anoint the stranger with hope.
Day by day, the Holy Spirit shows us:
the community we could be,
the family we are called to become.
(Thom Shuman, Lectionary Liturgies)

Prayer of Invocation
Eternal God,
from whose gentle hands
none can snatch us away:
give us faith to believe
that we are known and loved
with a passion strong enough
to bring the whole world back to you;
through Jesus Christ, who is one with the source of life. Amen.
(Source:  Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare)

A responsive prayer (based on Psalm 23)
Shepherd me, God;
help me follow.
All I need is given;
help me trust, receive and be grateful.
You lead me to rest and restoration;
give me faith to drink deeply, to lie down.
You lead me on a path with heart;
help me follow, for your sake.
Even through the darkest valley
give me courage to trust and follow.
You are with me, your presence comforting
in all my difficulties. Help me trust
You prepare a feast for me despite my fears.
You invite me to be at peace with my enemies.
You shower me with blessing;
bathe me in gratitude.
Your goodness and mercy stick to me;
help me trust I am in you always. Always.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Prayer of adoration and confession
We praise you, O God, for giving shape and meaning to the ancient image of yourself as shepherd through the person of Jesus Christ. In him, your compassion has been eternally revealed, giving your rod and staff the human face of love. Through Jesus’ persistence-even to death – in seeking and saving the lost, your goodness and mercy has been abundantly experienced. His ongoing life continues to guide and lead us in paths of justice and righteousness. How can we do other than praise and adore you, O God, for such depth of care for us and how can we do other than listen to Jesus’ voice as he calls us to follow him.  

And yet, we confess that there are times when we fail to hear and obey
 his call because our lives are so filled with noise and self-centred activities.

Forgive us, O God, for the times when we put our own comfort first and fail to reach out and accompany those who are going through difficult times – those who feel imprisoned in a valley of shadows and find themselves overwhelmed by life.

Jesus, good shepherd:
help us to take the time and make the space to hear your call to us.

The call to reveal your love, compassion and comfort wherever you need us to bind up the wounds of the victims of today’s society 
(silent confession)


Forgive us, O God, for ignoring the plight of those deprived of the basic necessities of life – food and shelter.

Jesus, good shepherd:
help us to take the time and make the space to
 hear your call to us.
The call to reveal in tangible and authentic ways, your passion for those who feel powerless to make any changes for good in their lives (silent confession)


Forgive us, O God, for enjoying the benefits of your goodness and mercy in our lives while exercising judgmental or unmerciful attitudes towards other people.

Jesus, good shepherd:
help us to take the time and make the space to hear your call to us.

The call to empty ourselves of all that is contrary to your life within us so that your goodness and mercies are enjoyed not as rewards to be hoarded but as gifts to be shared.  In your name, we pray. Amen


Words of Assurance
Friends, hear the good news:
In Jesus Christ we are sought, we are found, we are forgiven, we are loved.
Amen!  Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honour, power and might, be to our God forever and ever! Amen.
(Revelation 7: 12 )


Prayer of confession
(for)given: new life (John 10:22–30)
Tell us again who you are,
for we have failed to listen.
Show us again who you are,
for we are blind, inattentive.
Call us again, in your voice,
for we tuned in to others.
Jesus, we are stubborn,
slow to learn, and we ask
again: forgive us.
a time of silence is kept
grace
Listen, now:
Jesus is Messiah.
Look now,
Jesus is Redeemer.
Hear now,
Jesus calls to us
and we are forgiven,
given new life,
safe in the arms
of God. Amen.
(Source: 2019, Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story)
Other prayers of confession on this site

Prayers for illumination (on this site)

Our Shepherding God
O Lord, our Shepherding God,
come close to us now
Come near us in our time of need.
Shepherding God,
we need you in our time of anxiety.
We need you in our time of economic uncertainty.
We need you in a time of a globe-trotting disease.
We need you to bind our wounds,
and pour your healing ointment on our heads .
We need the briars, and brambles, and burrs
pulled out of our fleece and skin.
Shepherding God.
you guide us with your voice,
Help us to listen and follow no matter where your voice leads.
Help us to trust you.
Shepherding God,
protect us from the hired hands
that do not really care for us
and have neglected or abused us in the past.
Shepherding God,
thank you for your son
who lay down his life for those who follow him
and for those who are not in the fold yet..
Lord we pray for those who don’t know the shepherd,
whose life circumstances kept them from knowing the good shepherd.
We pray that by our actions, our behavior,
and our reaching out into the community,
they may come to know you.
Shepherding God,
renew us, guide us with your love
and renew us with your peace. Amen
(Source: Rev. Abi, Long and Winding Road blog)

God in ancient times was understood as being like a ‘Good Shepherd’ (Psalm 23). The God made known in Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd (John 10)

Psalm 23 paraphrase
Generous Giver of all things: in your presence my inner spirit is fully satisfied.
I know I share in the abundance of life.
I can lie down without fear.
I can sit beside the stillness of the river.
I find my soul is strengthened.
I know there are right paths.
My God will guide me to them.

I know I must face the shadows of life and meet my death.
I will do so with courage.
I know there is an unseen presence with me that gives me comfort and strength.
Generous Giver, along with all the uncertainties and threats of life, you provide me with good gifts.
When I have enough, you pour into my life something more.
Indeed: my cup overflows.
May I find and give goodness and kindness every day of my life.

Let my life be a constant expression of my desire to reflect your good presence wherever I am, wherever I go.

Wherever. Forever!
(Source: Frances Macnab)
For more paraphrase and other settings go to the link on this site

A personal meditation
God – the Good Shepherd. This image is reassuring; my needs will be anticipated and provided. This knowledge of my inner being, and of my needs, is both scary and a blessing.
….. being known for who I am.
Every day, basic needs need to be provided for survival – water and food. The idea that everything is there ready for me, enough to meet my daily needs is like paradise to me.
….. my needs supplied.
Life can be exhausting! Just to be able to ‘catch my breath’ is exhilarating! The blessings of life-restoring, life-invigorating rest.
…. taking time out for personal space.
God – the Good Shepherd. My companion along paths where I experience the dark times of life, things that will test and even distress me. I trust in the care of my being in the hard times.
…. the dark experiences of life.
God – the Good Shepherd, what a feast you lay before me. Your nurturing care overflows – all because of your compassion and understanding. Your unfailing care gives me peace and hope, not just for now, but through every remaining part of my life.
 ….. life-long healing and restoration.
 (Source: © 2010 adapted from Joan Stott – “The Timeless Psalms” RCL Psalms Year C)

Prayer of Dedication (inspired by Psalm 23)
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;
We believe in the goodness of God.
We believe God hears and responds to our needs.
We believe God responds to all children everywhere.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters,
he restores my soul.
We are grateful that we’ve been blessed with enough water.
But we know that many do not have enough.
Not enough water, not enough food, not enough peace.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Too many children do not see God’s righteousness.
Too many children watch violence, taste hunger, feel fear.
Too many children cry from the unspeakable horror of war.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
To become involved is risky. Pain is often contagious.
Our hearts may be broken and our lives may be threatened.
Yet we hear God calling
and we can no longer hide.
Thou preparest a table for me in the presence of my enemies;
thou annointest my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Our steps may be small and timid.
We may read a book, write a letter, or make a gift.
But each tiny step is blessed by God and multiplies.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
God is more relentless than war.
God is more pervasive than hatred.
God is more insistent than despair.
Amen. Amen.
(Katherine Hawker, Liturgies Outside website)

Prayer of Dedication/Offering prayer (inspired by Psalm 23, 1 John 3)
God of love,
you abide with us;
you provide for all our needs
and guide us in your ways.
Out of gratitude for your care,
we bring our gifts before you.
Use them for your work of caring,
that all may feast at the table of abundance,
walk without fear,
and drink deeply
from the cup of compassion. Amen.
(Mary Petrina Boyd, Ministry Matters)

Prayer of dedication
Gracious God, the One we know through Jesus the Good Shepherd, we thank you for the ways in which you have enfolded us in your love and called us by name to follow you. We bring our lives and gifts to you as a sign of our hope in you. May these gifts and our lives offered in your name be used to enfold others in your love. Amen.
(Source: adapted, Moira Laidlaw)

(* see also other offering prayers on this site)

Prayers for others
Gracious God, you care for me; I need nothing more.
Hear the cry of those who are hungry; hungry for justice, and dignity, hungry for freedom, and love.
Lord, in Your love … Hear our prayer
You lead me into a haven of peace and rest.
Hear the cry of those who are alone; those who grieve a relationship broken by death or human failing, those who live in the isolation of a hospital room, a prison cell, a frail body, a confused mind.
Lord, in Your love … Hear our prayer
You breathe new life into me and lead me in new ways.
God whose breath is life itself, we pray for a just and caring use of your creation; a fair sharing of its abundance, an ethical searching of its mysteries.
Lord, in Your love … Hear our prayer
You are with me, and comfort me,
even when the darkness of the world looms large.
 We pray for those who seek the truth; those who cannot speak, and those who cannot be heard, and those we name in the silence of our hearts, that the light of your Word may shine in the darkness, which overshadows their lives.
Lord, in Your love … Hear our prayer
In the face of those who trouble me
you provide for me, and pour out your blessings.
Hear the cry of those trampled by racial or religious intolerance, disoriented by homelessness, defeated by unemployment;
Lord, in Your love … Hear our prayer
God of justice and compassion you are with me always
and have promised to sustain me all my life.
Enlarge our vision of life, and make us bold in our hope, accepting today in the hope of the new day which you bring in the risen Christ.
God in Community, Holy in One, we offer these prayers and pray as Jesus has taught us, saying, Our Father . . .(Lord’s Prayer)
(Source: Adapted from a prayer Jeff Shrowder, 1998)

More prayers for others on this website

Prayers for others concluding with:
Guide us in the path of discipleship,
so that, as you have blessed us,
we may be a blessing for others,
bringing the promise of the kingdom near
by our words and deeds. Amen.
(Source: Vanderbilt Library)

Blessing Prayer (inspired by Psalm 23)
Holy God,
you are our shepherd,
we shall want for nothing that truly matters.
In green pastures you give us rest
and beside deep, still waters you lead us.
You promise to be with us always,
offering freedom from the frictions of hatred, anxiety, fear and pain.
You give us living water to satisfy our thirst for peace.
We praise you and wonder
if this is for all people.
You refresh and restore our souls
and guide us in right paths
for the sake of your name.
When we are cast down
we have been shown ways to bring a new creation
to life in our world.
Your unique plan for all of life and for each life
is written into our very essence.
May we believe it is a plan
filled with hope,
grown out of love.
Help our unbelief.
Even though we walk in the dark valley,
we will fear no danger
for you, God, are at our side,
with rod and staff to give us courage.
Each life, every nation, has its share of valleys.
Some seem to have more than is right.
You are a constant companion in the darkness.
When violence, pain and loss are heavy
you comfort.
When we are aching, lost and discouraged,
you seek us out.
When we go astray,
your compassionate judgment draws us back.
Receive our gratitude. Know our darkness.
You spread the table before us in the sight of our enemies
and richly bathe our heads with oil.
Our cups overflow.
O holy one,
you are our host as well as our shepherd.
You invite us to the banquet,
the banquet of life.
All parts of the world are invited –
enemies and friends,
the alienated and powerful,
those close at hand and those far off.
You offer the abundance and lavishness
of bread broken and shared
and the cup of refreshment that leads to new life.
We praise and thank you for your abundant spirit.
Goodness and love unfailing,
these will follow us all the days of our lives,
and we shall dwell in the home of our God
for all eternity.
(Sonya Dyer’s Prayerbook, posted on the Seekers Church website)

Psalm 23 Blessing
In the lush pastures of life that hold meeting places with love,
may your feet know the way to find them.
By the still waters of the running stream,
may your hands shape a cup it and drink deep from it.
In the valley of death’s shadow that ever threatens,
may your sense of life find the way through.
At the banqueting table set before your enemies,
may your cup be full and overrunning.
Like the anointing oil that runs down your head,
may the blessing that is you spill into the world with eternal promise.
In the way a shepherd’s staff warms off lameness from fear,
may trust be your protective companion on the way.
Through each day’s living as it unfolds,
may goodness and mercy make their way into every moment.
At the doorway to the house of the Lord of life,
may you recognise your home and your hearth.
And in the song that makes a dwelling-place in your heart,
may its music rise in your soul.
(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Mucky Paws)

Blessing
We are a sent people. Go forward into the activity of this day, with Jesus as your companion and guide. And as you go, know yourself as one who is blessed with the goodness and mercy of God, the comfort and love of Jesus Christ, and the insight and guidance of the Holy Spirit, both this day and evermore. Amen.

Other blessings and benedictions here.

Communion

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Gentle God:
into that place where there was no time,
you crafted day and night,
bathing green pastures in their light.
Into that dark valley called chaos,
you flung the sparkling stars,
you pooled still waters for nourishment,
you prepared a feast for your children
created in your divine image.
We chose to journey down the wrong paths,
sin and death tagging along behind us,
pointing out where temptation built a home for us.
You sent prophets to call to us,
hoping we would hear your voice in them,
but we preferred the presence of your enemies.
So, you sent the good shepherd, Jesus,
to us to call us back to you.
So with that multitude no one can count,
with those of every nation and language,
we lift our voices to you in glad praise:
Holy, holy, holy, God who is seated on the throne.
All creation praises you forever and ever.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the Lamb who is our shepherd.
Hosanna in the highest!
Holy are you, God of green pastures,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Shepherd, our Saviour.
He would not keep us in suspense,
but came proclaiming the good news
that we are held forever in your hands.
He came to people who hungered for hope,
who thirsted for healing in their brokenness,
feeding them on goodness and mercy,
nourishing them with peace and reconciliation.
He did not fear the power of death,
but walked into its shadowed valley,
emerging into the bright light of resurrection.
As we celebrate the good news of his resurrection,
as we remember his gentle life and affirming spirit,
we witness to that mystery we can faith:
Christ died, to restore us to life;
Christ is risen, to anoint us with hope;
Christ will come again, to lead us on the path to God.
You prepare a feast for us,
your Spirit taking the simple gifts of the bread and cup,
filling them with your goodness and mercy.
You gather us around the Table,
strangers now become family,
enemies now our sisters and brothers,
handing us the broken bread
which heals us of every hurt and division,
so we can go to bring hope to the world.
Your cup of peace and reconciliation
overflows and makes us one in your grace,
so we can offer our hands to all who have been cast aside, helping them up
so they might know your love for them.
And when we gather with that multitude no one can count,
when we are with our sisters and brothers
from every nation, tribe, people, and language,
we will fall down on our faces, lifting our voices to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
singing our praises to you forever and ever.  Amen.
(Source: 2010  Thom M. Shuman)

Pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us, O God, and upon these gifts of bread and wine, that they may be for us the life of Christ and that we may make that life visible through our acts of love and goodness and mercy.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Breaking of bread and distribution 

Prayer after communion
Gracious God, we thank you for the ways in which You have enfolded us in your love and called us by name to follow You. We thank You for refreshing and renewing us in this meal with the life of Jesus, your Son, our Lord. Strengthened by His life, may we leave from this place, to enfold others in your love.  May we always be followers of Your way in thought word and deed; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Music
Psalm 23 collection of song suggestions by Christine Longhurst, Contemporary Psalms.

Singing from the Lectionary collation, by Natalie Sims

TiS145 The king of love my shepherd is
TiS659 The Lord Is My Shepherd and I Want To Follow
TiS 545 Shout for joy! The Lord has let us feast!

  1. Shout for joy! The Lord has let us feast;
    Heaven’s own fare has fed the last and least;
    Christ’s own peace is shared again on earth;
    God the Spirit fills us with new worth.
  2. No more doubting, no more senseless dread:
    God’s good self has graced our wine and bread;
    all the wonder heaven has kept in store.
    now is ours to keep for evermore.
  3. Celebrate with saints who dine on high,
    witnesses that love can never die,
    ‘Hallelujah!’ — thus their voices ring:
    nothing less in gratitude we bring.
  4. Praise the Maker, praise the Maker’s Son,
    praise the Spirit — three yet ever one;
    praise the God whose food and friends avow
    heaven starts here! The kingdom beckons now!
    Words and Music: John L. Bell (1949-)
    Tune: LANSDOWNE 99.99
    Permissions: Wild Goose Publications, Scotland UK

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.
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