Sermon for 4/25/21

GATHERING

P:We are gathered in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. C: Amen

P:Christ is risen! C: Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

(Psalm 23)

C:The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.  

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.  

He leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my  soul.  

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his  name’s sake.  

Yea, 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.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.

Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of  my life,

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.  Amen.

HYMN OF PRAISE Praise the Name of Jesus

Praise the name of Jesus, praise the name of Jesus;

He’s my rock, he’s my fortress, 

he’s my deliverer, in him will I trust. 

Praise the name of Jesus.

                                                                              CCLI 931594 Maranatha 4

PRAYER OF THE DAY 

P: O Lord Christ, good shepherd of the sheep, you seek the lost and guide us into your fold.  Feed us, and we shall be satisfied; heal us, and we shall be whole.  Make us one with you, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.   

C:  Amen.

READINGS 

Acts 4:5-12

1st John 3:16-24   

John 10:11-18

SERMON 

Jesus was a Master teacher. He had a marvelous teaching technique. First He drew attention to what people understood from every day life, and then he would compare it to an insightful lesson on the kingdom of God. 

He saw a man sowing seeds and told the people that the different soils the seed landed on was like different hearts that receive the Word of God. 

He said looking for the Kingdom of God was like looking for a lost coin. Who hasn’t found himself searching high and low for something he has lost or misplaced?

He told us that God’s love for us was like that of a Father who’s son had left home. Who of us can’t relate to that kind of situation? We’ve all been children. We’ve experienced the longing within a parent’s heart.

And so, when Jesus wanted to teach an important lesson about himself, about the heavenly Father, about the kingdom of heaven, he would take something that everyone could understand, from every day experience, and then he would draw a word picture. So clearly would he describe it that his listeners could just close their eyes and see it in their minds.

Well, on this 4th Sunday of Easter each year, known as Good Shepherd Sunday, we read the 23rd Psalm, and we hear these verses from John’s gospel. The Master Teacher himself is telling us some magnificent things about himself, and he’s using what his listeners would have been closely familiar with.

But, this isn’t 1st Century Palestine, and I’d be surprised to know that any of us have much experience with tending sheep. To what might we compare this image in 21st century terms? Someone in the present times who might fit the description might be a child care supervisor–one who is directly responsible for the care of young children while their parents are at work. That person must make certain that the babies are protected from harm, get enough food in their tummies, and are tended to in any crisis. When you think about it, it’s an awesome task to be entrusted with those little, vulnerable lives.

Come to think of it, the image of the child care supervisor might be closer to what Jesus was really driving at when he called himself the Good Shepherd than what image comes immediately to our minds when we hear these gospel words. Because we of our generation and locality have so little experience with shepherds and sheep, our minds tend to paint sweet pastoral scenes like we have on our bulletin cover…and on that painting over there. We want to see Jesus as the gentle shepherd…and of ourselves as that adorable little lamb that he’s holding in his arms. (It’s a good image of God–not so much of us; I know I’m in his arms, but I’m hardly that cute and cuddly lamb portrayed by the artist). But it’s a good image of God as our comforter, our nurturer, our listener and friend.

These are the qualities of our caregivers and teachers in Matthew’s House–comforters, nurturers, listeners, and friends. We want our children to be cuddled and loved, gently taught and guided, nourished and nurtured. But there is one additional very important quality that we hope a children’s caregiver would have–a quality that we don’t often talk about, but a quality that is perhaps the most important quality of all. Above all, don’t we want–more than anything else–to be assured that the children are safe? If danger should arise, what do we really need above all else on the part of a teacher, a caregiver, or, for that matter, of any adult in the room? Courage! We need to know that our children will be protected…even defended, if need be, from anyone or anything that would threaten to do them harm. 

This is the most central part of what Jesus was telling us when he called himself the Good Shepherd. He isn’t the hired hand who sees the wolf coming and runs away. He is the One who knows his own and whose own know him. Our Shepherd did, in fact, lay his life down for the sheep, and he laid it down of his own accord. Our Savior is the Shepherd who is willing to do battle against all that would harm us– against sin, against death, against all the forces of evil, in order to deliver us safely to our heavenly fold.

St. John put it plainly and beautifully in our second lesson. “This is how we know love, that Jesus Christ laid down his life…FOR US! Amen.

BAPTISMAL HYMN:  Dearest Jesus, We Are HereRed Book # 443

 

SACRAMENT OF HOLY BAPTISMRed Book p. 227

 

Brinley Lynn Bishop

daughter of Sydney Borton and Kameron Bishop

Born February 27, 2021

Stand

THE PRAYERS OF THE FAITHFUL  

P:Rejoicing in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us pray for the witness of the church, the wholeness of creation, and all who are in need.. .    (A brief silence)

Lord of the Church, bless those who shepherd your sheep and guide them in their serving.  Lord, in your mercy,

C:  HEAR OUR PRAYER.

P:God of mercy, in times of tragedy, disaster, or emergency, protect and bless first responders.  Bring mercy and justice with their presence.  We pray for military personnel, firefighters, paramedics, and police officers, and for disaster relief and crisis intervention teams.  Lord, in your mercy,      

C: HEAR OUR PRAYER.

P:Good Shepherd, heal and renew all who ache for a better tomorrow.  We pray for the unemployed and underemployed, the forgotten, the nameless, and the outcasts; for our enemies; and for our loved ones … especially… and all others dear to us  whom we name … Lord, in your mercy,      

C: HEAR OUR PRAYER.

P:Holy God, we thank you for our church and those who serve us when we gather for worship… our ushers and greeters, liturgists and communion assistants, acolytes, altar guild members, and those who arrange flowers and decorate the church for special occasions.   Work through us, the members of this faith family, to make your love known in the world.  Lord, in your mercy, 

C: HEAR OUR PRAYER.

P:Holy God, you are our peace in this world and the next. Comfort all who mourn, and hold them in your tender care.  Bring us all around the table of your heavenly banquet.  Lord, in your mercy,

C: HEAR OUR PRAYER.

P:Trusting in your mercy, O God, we lift our prayers to you, through your Son, Jesus Christ, our risen Savior.  

C:   AMEN.

HOLY COMMUNION

P:The Lord be with you.    

C: And also with you.

P:Lift up your hearts.   

C: We lift them to the Lord.

P:Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

C:It is right to give our thanks and praise.

P:It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, that we should at all times and in all places offer thanks and praise to you, O Lord, holy Father, almighty and everliving God. But chiefly are we bound to praise you for the glorious resurrection of our Lord; for he is our true Passover Lamb who gave himself to take away our sin, who by his death has destroyed death, and by his rising has brought us eternal life. And so, with Mary Magdalene and Peter and all the witnesses of the resurrection, with earth and sea and all their creatures, and with angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim, we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

C:Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,

Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

P:In the night in which he was betrayed our Lord Jesus took bread and gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.j

 Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the remembrance of me.

Lord, remember us in your kingdom, and teach us to pray:

C:Our Father, who art in heaven…

CHOIR ANTHEM DURING THE DISTRIBUTION    Psalm 23

POST COMMUNION

P:The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you and keep you in his grace. 

C: Amen.

L:Let us pray… We give you thanks, Almighty God, that you have refreshed us through the healing power of this gift of life. In your mercy, strengthen us through this gift in faith toward you and in fervent love toward one another; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. 

C: Amen.

P:The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord look upon you with favor, and give you peace.  

C:  Amen.

L:Go in peace. Christ is With You.     

C:  Thanks be to God.

PARTING HYMN      How Firm a FoundationRed Book # 796

ALTAR FLOWERSare given to the glory of God by the Meyer family, praising God as they celebrate with Dick his 93rd birthday.

TODAY’S SERVERS: Ushers: Dan & Rita Hoffman

Reader and Communion Assistant: Susan Bernard  

Acolyte: Khale Rudolph    Altar Guild: Ellen Campbell

FIRST COMMUNION CLASS– Do you have a son or daughter who is ready to prepare for their First Holy Communion? Please speak with Pastor about the upcoming First Communion Class.

MOWING SEASON HAS BEGUN. We would be so grateful if those who are able would volunteer to take a few turns at mowing the church grounds. Please speak with Christopher Meihls if you are able to help.

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL:We are happy to announce that we plan to have a VBS this summer. The evening VBS will be led by the Child Evangelism Fellowship team July 26-30. Volunteers for snacks and to lead crafts and games will be much appreciated. Talk to Mercy Joshua for more information.

WORK CONTINUES ON THE RESTORATION OF THE PIANO.Thanks to all who contributed to the project. The project will take several weeks to complete.

PLEASE KEEP IN YOUR PRAYERS:Kelly Stange,Candy Wellman,Wayne Stewart,Gracie GrossandConnie Iler(granddaughter and aunt of Tracey and Phil Gross), Lori Powelson’s aunt Lori Linton,Ron Werskey,Dave Kuhn,Ron Kuhn,Carole Kuhn,Barbara Kunkel,Grace Blaugh,Phyllis Bentz,Dana Neith,Carolyn SmithSandra Borton,Rosemary Baker,Charles & Judy Davis(Uncle and aunt of Tracey Gross). 

(Names normally remain on the prayer list for six weeks, unless otherwise requested. To have a name added, returned, or removed, please speak with the pastor.)

Reserving Bethany Room, Fellowship Hall

Church members, please know that you are welcome to use the church facilities for your personal/family events. We ask that you take responsibility for leaving the space clean and orderly. Chris Meihls, our church sexton, is now the go-to person for reserving a room. Please contact Chris for additional information.