Worship Connection: May 3, 2020

March 19th, 2020

Fourth Sunday of Easter

COLOR: White
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2:19-25; John 10:1-10


Call to Worship #1

L: The gate stands open, ready for us to travel onward.
P: But we are stubborn and fear to enter the gateway.
L: Listen for the voice of the true Shepherd.
P: His voice will we hear and obey.
L: Hallellujah!
P: Hallelujah!

Call to Worship #2

L: Jesus the Good Shepherd calls our names to come and follow him.
P: His voice, speaking our names, draws us to him.
L: We follow without fear, for the shepherd cares for us.
P: Our hearts rejoice and we can place our trust in the Good Shepherd.
L: Come, let us enter the gate with thanksgiving!
P: Let us go forth confidently with songs of praise! AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2218, “You Are Mine,” offer the following call to worship as directed.]

L: Where shall we find the Lord?
P: The darkness surrounds us, and the silence deafens our hearts.

Soloist: singing verse 1 of “You Are Mine”

L: We are trapped in our fears and sorrows. Who will rescue us?
P: We need to hear the word of hope from God.

Soloist: singing verse 4 of “You Are Mine”

L: Our hearts rejoice and our spirits sing. God has rescued us and brings us home.
P: Thanks be to God who has heard our cries, healed our wounds, and restored our lives. AMEN.

Call to Worship #4

L: Though the way seems long and the road rough
P: Yet will we trust the One who leads us.
L: Though the direction is unknown and we don’t know the outcome
P: Yet will we place our lives in Christ’s loving care.
L: It is Christ who brings us out to green pastures and restores our souls.
P: It is Christ who gives us hope and peace. Praise be to Christ our Lord. AMEN.


Opening Prayer

We are standing at the gate, o loving Shepherd, not sure about the journey. But you have called our names, and in your voice we hear such love and surety. Bring us safely on the journey and strengthen us that we may serve you in all that we do. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

Patient and loving God, we stand at the gate and peer through. We keep creating our own ways, believing that we know what is in our own best interest, and we ignore the voice of the one Shepherd who will guide us to peace and hope. We wander aimlessly and then wonder why we get so lost. Help us stop and listen to the Shepherd’s voice. Let us place our trust in the Shepherd who has never failed us, who loves and guides our lives. Forgive us our stubbornness and stupidity. For we ask this in Christ’s Name. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

Even though we have wandered and have become lost, the shepherd calls to us. We can place our trust in his loving care. For we are the sheep of his pasture, blessed and given hope. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer

Lord, help us approach the gate of this sheepfold with confidence. Let us walk through from our fears and doubts to lands of hope and peace, trusting in the Shepherd who seeks us, guides us, and cares for us. In so many of our ways, we are stubborn; yet you gently call our names, reminding us of your eternal love. As we have placed the names of those near and dear to us before you seeking your healing grace, help us remember that we also stand in need of your healing mercies. Help us place our trust in you. Help us reach out to others in confidence because of your love for us. For we ask this in Christ’s name. AMEN.


[In this reading you will want to have two “voices” speaking “offstage,” not being seen, and two readers who will be “onstage,” visible to the congregation.]

Voice 1:
Come, beloved ones, come and follow me, and I will lead you to places of hope and peace.

Reader 1:
Wow! Did you hear that? The Shepherd is calling us. He wants to lead us to some pretty good places.

Reader 2:
Yeah! I heard. But I’m not sure I can trust him. Where is this miracle place? How do we not know that he’s just trying to get us lost again.

Voice 2:
Listen to me! You know you can trust me. Don’t pay any attention to that other shepherd. I’m the one who can lead you to riches. Just think about it; everything that you want, you can have it. You know the price! Not too expensive, is it?

Reader 1:
Now there’s a voice I wouldn’t trust. What’s the deal, offering us riches and stuff?

Reader 2:
I wouldn’t mind being rich. It beats the heck out of the pickle I’m in right now.

Reader 1:
But maybe being money-rich, or possession-rich isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

Reader 2:
Chicken! You’re afraid to seek after fame and fortune. I know what I want and it is not to follow blindly some wilderness shepherd who won’t tell us where he’s leading us and won’t tell us what we can expect at the end.

Voice 1:
Come, follow me. Leave your fears and doubts at the gate, or better yet, give them to me and I will bear them for you. Do not fear.

Reader 1:
There’s something in this voice that I trust. I don’t need to know specifically where everything will lead or how it will all turn out. Somehow, wherever I go with this shepherd, I will feel protected and cared for.

Reader 2:
Well, suit yourself. I’m following this other one. I want all that’s coming to me, all the goodies, all the wealth, all the fame, all the glory. You can walk blindly after the other shepherd all that you want.

Reader 1:
I wish that you would reconsider.

Reader 2:
No thanks. Have a good life!

Voice 1:
Come and follow me, and I will give you abundant life and joy.


Come through the gate of joy and hope, moving into the world that needs to hear the words of peace. Go in peace to all God’s people, bringing good news of Christ’s abundant love for them. AMEN.


The traditional Color for today is: WHITE

[Note: I have chosen the image of the open gate as the central focus for the artistic elements. Please see the section on “Other” for further ideas and explanation.]


Place a riser all along the back of the worship center, so that it runs the full length of the center. In front of the worship center, place two risers; one should stand about 4” lower than the table level (this riser will need to be sturdy and long enough to support the weight of a gate and some stones placed near the base) and the other, placed in front of that, should be about 6” lower than the riser level.


Cover the worship center, with the exception of the long riser in the back of the worship table, with burlap or other brown rough fabric. Cover the riser that goes along the back with green cloth (this cloth may be printed or be tone on tone in shades of green. In the center of the riser at the back and coming directly across the table, place about two yards of white fabric, trailing through the gate and over the risers and puddling down in front of the worship center.


You may use a group of votive candles on the bottom riser and a group of candles on the upper left portion of the “green covered” riser. Place one large white pillar candle in front of the cross.


Green leafy plants may be placed behind the back riser and on the floor on either side of the bottom riser, if you wish, however, plants are not vital for this worship setting. If you do use plants, use them sparingly.


Place piles of stones and rocks near the gate (on either side of it), which is resting on top of the first riser in front of the worship center


If you have access to a gate, on hinges, which can be propped up on the first riser in front of the worship center, use that gate. It should be plain, not decorative. You might be able to find someone in the congregation who would make a gate. The gate should be swung open. If you have the room, have someone prepare a fence with a gate in the middle. This is a nice piece of “holy hardware” to have available for other settings.

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