Worship Connection: April 21, 2024

March 22nd, 2021

Fourth Sunday of Easter

COLOR: White
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Acts 4:5-12; Psalm 23; 1 John 3:16-24; John 10:11-18


Call to Worship #1 

L: The God of all shepherds has called us here.

P: We come today, celebrating God’s love for us.

L: The Good Shepherd has given his life for us.

P: We come today, thanking Jesus for his witness and his teaching.

L: The Shepherding Spirit moves through us, bringing us new hope.

P: We come today ready to celebrate and to praise God. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2 

L: Come, walk with the Lord this day.

P: We seek places of peace and rest from the stresses of our lives.

L: The Shepherd will lead you to places where your soul may be restored.

P: We come, sometimes fearful of the hostilities of the world.

L: In the midst of all the turmoil, The Shepherd will provide for your needs abundantly.

P: Surely these wonders will heal and restore our spirits. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2058, "Shepherd Me, O God" (refrain only), offer the following call to worship]

Choir (singing): Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life. 

L: Our great Shepherd, Jesus Christ, has gone before us, preparing our way. He has given his life for us, his sheep. We can follow him with confidence and safety.

P: Lead us, Lord. Lead us in your paths of life.

Choir (singing): Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life. 

L: The world can be a frightening place in which to live, but in the very presence of all that is evil, God will offer to us a feast of hope and peace.

P: Lead us, Lord, Lead us confidently in your path of peace.

Choir (singing): Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life. 

L: Abundance will be placed before us. We will be called to witness to God’s presence and love. We will praise God’s Spirit.

P: Lead us, Lord, Lead us joyfully into paths of service in your name. AMEN.

Call to Worship #4 

L: What a joy it is to welcome you this day!

P: We are grateful and happy to be here.

L: Christ, the Good Shepherd, invites you to walk with him.

P: We accept that invitation, confident in his guidance.

L: Be ready to serve the Lord in all that you do, for his love has been poured upon you.

P: Open our hearts and spirits this day, Lord, to receive your holy words and to be challenged in our service to you. AMEN.



Thank you, loving God, for bringing us to this time of worship. Refresh us and heal us again. Remind us of the many ways in which you have blessed our lives with your abundant love and your presence. Guide our hearts and our spirits that we may hear your words and our souls may be stirred into active service to your people. In the name of the Good Shepherd, who leads us to life, we pray. AMEN.


We grumble and complain about our daily lot in life. We read the newspapers, watch the broadcast news and moan about the evil which flourishes in the world. And we wonder, "Where are you, O God?" We turn our backs on the needs of the poor or give only a cursory acknowledgment of their plight. We throw our hands up in the air and act as though we are defeated. And we cry, "Why isn’t God taking care of all this?" Forgive us, patient Lord. Forgive our arrogance, our ignorance, our pettiness. Forgive us when we could have done something to help someone else, but chose instead to turn away. Forgive us when we, by our attitudes and language, our thoughts and actions, have gone against your will. You are with us, Lord. You lead us daily in right paths and offer to us the bread of life. You stand with us in times of trial and in the presence of those whom we fear, giving us your abundant love. And then you offer to us a place in your eternal home. How can we doubt your presence? Help us to trust you. Help us to praise you and remember that you have called us to be your witnesses and workers in this world. Give us strength and courage, joy and peace for all the work that you have for us to do. In the name of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for us, his sheep, we pray. AMEN.


In the midst of all that you fear, God is with you. God will not abandon you. Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, laid down his life for you and offers you hope and peace. AMEN.


Our souls are weary, O God. We hear to easily the loud clamor of the world. We witness the terror and trauma all around us. We long for the "good old days" when life seemed so much safer and simpler; when we felt cherished and protected. In this spirit, we have come to this time of worship, seeking your peace and hope. The Psalmist wrote of green pastures and refreshing springs of water, places of rest. Offerings of quietness and comfort flood our thirsting souls. What we would give for such places in the heart! In the midst of all that is difficult, there is one who leads us to these places where, when we have gathered strength and healing, we are prepared to go forth in confidence to serve again. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows our name and our needs. He listens for our cries and responds in love. We can have great assurance in that. We have offered today the names and situations of illness, mourning, stress, and concern which touch our lives and our souls. We have breathed our heart’s desire for their healing and restoration. God’s abundant love shall flood over them until they are more than filled. God will be with all these dear ones in their situations and needs. And God will be with us, strengthening us, restoring us, healing us, challenging us, to witness to the Good News of Salvation in the name of Jesus Christ. Open our hearts this day, O Lord, and enter into our lives. In Jesus’ name, we pray. AMEN.


[Note: This reading may be done responsively, with the congregation reading the #1 portion and the worship leader reading the #2 portion. It may be done antiphonally, right side of congregation, left side of congregation. It may be done as a "readers’ theater" presentation, by two readers. Choose what fits your worship setting the best] 

Reader 1: I am person, hear me roar! I can do anything! I am confident and powerful! I don’t need anything or anyone! I am sufficient unto myself!

Reader 2: Listen. Wait. Rest. Quiet your spirit.

Reader 1: I don’t have time to listen to drivel about peace and patience. I want to do what I want right now.

Reader 2: Listen, Wait, Rest. Quiet your spirit.

Reader 1: Why should I listen and wait?

Reader 2: Your spirit is in distress. You are trying to do too much all by yourself.

Reader 1: Well, so what! Whenever I have counted on anyone else, I’ve been let down.

Reader 2: That hurts, doesn’t it. There is one who really won’t let you down.

Reader 1: Who is that?

Reader 2: Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd

Reader 1: You think I need a shepherd, like some stupid sheep who doesn’t know which direction to go? You think that I need someone to watch over me? You think I am weak?

Reader 2: We all need to know that we are not trying to live life absolutely alone, without anyone.

Reader 1: Look, the world’s a messy place, and it’s either "eat or get gobbled up yourself". I have to watch out for number one, you know.

Reader 2: The Good Shepherd watches over you.

Reader 1: Why?

Reader 2: Because he loves and cherishes you. He will keep you safe. He will provide for you.

Reader 1: For free?

Reader 2: He freely gave his life for you. Sure, you’ll have to work and strive; but you will have the assurance that Jesus is with you, every step of the way. He won’t solve your problem, but he will ease your soul so that you may know the right path.

Reader 1: What about when times get really tough?

Reader 2: That’s when you will find his presence strongly in your life. In the middle of all the difficulties, he will provide for you and comfort you.

Reader 1: I don’t have to do this alone?

Reader 2: No.

Reader 1: He won’t let me down?

Reader 2: No.

Reader 1: I can count on him being with me forever?

Reader 2: Absolutely.

Reader 1: Lord, help me to trust in you. Help me to be open to your presence and not to claim my own power but to celebrate your power and compassion in my life.

Reader 2: Surely goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life and you will dwell in God’s loving care forever. AMEN.


The Good Shepherd leads us forward, from this place, into the world to serve God’s people, to witness to God’s love in all that we do. Go in peace and God’s peace will go with you. AMEN.


[Note: Whenever you create a worship setting, it is advisable to put a small paragraph in the worship bulletin explaining the setting and symbolism used. This is a good teaching opportunity] 

The Traditional Color is White for this season. (However, for this setting, I have chosen green to give the impression of coolness and life)

SURFACE: On the main worship center, place several risers of various heights. Place a riser in front of the worship center, slightly to the right of center.

FABRIC: Cover the worship center with green fabric, making sure that it covers all risers, including the riser in front of the worship center. The fabric should "puddle" on the floor. With a strip of blue silky fabric, approximately 6 yards long, weave it from the center riser around the other risers on the table and down beside the riser in front of the worship center. This fabric should be able to be puddled and spread out at the bottom and should give the appearance of a stream which ends in a pool.

CANDLES: Place a white pillar candle in front of the center riser on the worship table. This candle represents Christ. You may place votive candles elsewhere at your discretion.

FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: Using ferns and soft leafy plants place plants throughout the worship center and on the floor beside the riser and the "pool" of blue fabric. Do not over-do it, but give the impression of leafy coolness (not a jungle)

ROCKS/WOOD: Using seven or eight rocks, place them around the "pool" of blue fabric. You may also place some pebbles near the rocks for contrast.

OTHER: On the top riser of the worship center, place a cross of your choice.

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