Worship Connection: May 3, 2020

April 1st, 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: Welcome!
P: Thank you.
L: For some of you, it has been a good week and for others difficulties abound.
P: We need peace and healing for our souls.
L: Rest. Open your hearts and lives to the Good Shepherd.
P: Lord, pour your balm of healing rest over our lives. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: Come to the gate and find the Good Shepherd within.
P: We need a shepherd – round us up and bring us through your Gate, O Lord.
L: If you’re hungry or thirsty, the Good Shepherd will provide for your needs.
P: That is just what we need. Our souls thirst for God’s word.
L: Come, the Gate and the Shepherd await.

Call to Worship #3

L: We tend to stray from God’s loving ways. We need a shepherd.
Choir: singing first phrase of “Gentle Shepherd” WSS #3096, singer’s edition)
P: We are hungry and thirsty, empty and fearful.
Choir: singing first and second phrases of “Gentle Shepherd”
L: Who can we turn to who will help us each and every day?
P: Where will we find someone tp bring us to the peaceful waters and the pleasant pastures?
Choir: singing whole song of “Gentle Shepherd”

Gathering Prayer

Our lives can get so noisy. Calm your spirits, rest your bodies. Listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd who desires the best for you. AMEN.

Opening Prayer

God of all the sheep, those who remain close to you and those who stray, those who are always faithful and those who are lost: be with us today! Help us take a look at our lives and our relationship to you. Bring us close, draw us in, for we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

Patient God, you know how easy it is for us to stray. We wander off so easily. Forgive us, we pray. Heal our brokenness and our fears. Remind us again that you lead us in gentle paths and by quiet waters – when the paths are stony and the waves tumultuous, help us to remember your protection and your care. Help us to extend that same love and care to others, for we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

Just when we think we can go no further, Jesus the Good Shepherd calls to us, bringing us safely into the fold of Grace and Mercy. Rejoice! You are loved completely and forgiven!

Morning Prayer

Merciful and loving God, you call us your beloved ones and you seek to protect us, but we love to take risks, emotionally, spiritually, physically. Call to us again. Help us to hear your voice. Give us hearts of love and compassion for all our dear ones who suffer illness and any adversity. Be with those who travel, having no home to which to return, no land they can call theirs, no sense of ever being community again. They truly hunger and thirst in every way and you have called us to meet those needs – not to turn them away because they might be different. You always accepted us, so let us accept others, realizing that your sheep of your pasture are awash with diversity of spirit and origin. Let us celebrate those wonderful gifts and learn from them for we ask this in the name of the Good shepherd. AMEN.

Offering

Prayer of Dedication

Thanks, Lord, for all the wonderful gifts with which you have blessed our lives. Take these gifts,, these tokens and use them to build your realm, to heal the broken hearted, bind up those who are wounded, welcome the stranger, become the gate of hope for we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Benediction/Sending Forth

You have been given your rest, now go and proclaim with your lives the good news of Jesus Christ. Be a Good Shepherd to someone today. AMEN.

Children’s Time

Pastor: Good morning! I need your help today. I need three people. I have two of our youth here ready to help me, but I need three children. Who would like to help? [wait for response].
I have asked [one youth] to be our Shepherd. I have asked the other youth to try to get you to follow him/her. You must try to be strong, following only the shepherd. I’m going to send you to the back of the worship area with your shepherd. You will never know when the evil one will show up. Ready? Good Shepherd, call to your sheep. Lead them. [give the “Shepherd and the sheep” to go a little way around the sanctuary]
Pastor: Now the sheep are safe, there is no danger – or is there? [the evil one pops up and tries to call them away from the Good Shepherd] [they cling closer, drawn to the good shepherd, who continues to lead them] [a moment later the evil one gets closer, trying to drag one of them away, but the sheep resists’]
Pastor: come back to the front, all you sheep.
[talk with them about being sheep. Ask the Good Shepherd what it was like to lead the sheep. Ask the evil one what it was like to try to steal them away. What did the other children notice? Build the finale from their responses, reminding them that Jesus, our Good shepherd will aways lead and care for them]

Altar Art for This Sunday

Equipment and Props: Replace white altar/table cover with cream or light tan cloth that reaches to the floor. Place a stack of weighted boxes in the upper left corner of the table. This stack should be about 18” high. Place a stack of three hymnals in the lower right of the table. Cover the table with the landscaper’s burlap (usually wide and generally a roll is about 50 feet. This burlap should be unrolled and “aired” out before placing on the altar). The burlap should drape across the table from the upper left to the right. In the center of the table, place the plain wooden cross that you used a few weeks ago. Create a small gate from a cardboard box, cutting out the openings between the “bars”. Using large rocks to keep the gate upright, place them just barely to the left of the hymnal riser, securing the gate in place. If you have a shepherd’s crook from the Christmas pageant supplies, lean this against the riser in the upper left. You may use a pillar candle at any place you desire on the setting.

Scripture as Script: (Psalm 23; Common English Bible)

Reader 1: The Lord is my shepherd
Reader 2: I lack nothing.
Reader 1: He lets me rest in grassy meadows
Reader 2: He leads me to restful waters
Reader 1: He keeps me alive
Reader 2: He guides me in proper paths
Readers 1 & 2: For the sake of his good name!
Reader 3: Even when I walk through the dark valley
Reader 4: I fear no danger because you are with me.
Reader 3: Your rod and your staff – they protect me.
Reader 4: You set a table before me – right in front of my enemies
Readers 3 & 4: You bathe my head in oil – my cup spills over.
ALL READERS: Yes, goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the Lord’s house as long as I live.

Message Movers

“Pastor Nancy, can you come over to our house this afternoon? I have something for you to see,” the excited eight year old voice bubbled over the phone.

“I’ll be there about two o’clock,” I replied.

“Thanks, see you then,” and with that she hung up.

What could make her so excited? The beautiful late June day was a wonderful day to visit the Windy Hill Farm. The earth was awash in spring green and flowering fruit trees. Dandelions dotted the side of the dirt road as my car made its way to visit a very excited young lady. Running from the doorway of the house, Brittany was the epitome of joy and fun.

“Come with me,” she said as she grabbed my hand, pulling me to a large sheep pen on the side of the barn. You have to see this. Her older sisters watched amusement as she dragged me forward. There in the pen were seven lambs. They were hers – her first herd – her first opportunity to work with these lovely creatures. Carefully unlocking the gate, we entered the pen.

“I have names for all of them and they each know their names,” she boasted proudly reciting all seven names. “Watch this” She crossed to the furthest corner of the pen and then turning toward the lambs she called each by name. As these lambs heard their names they came running toward her, crowding around the legs of their beaming owner. All seven sheep responded individually.

“Now, watch this” She extricated herself from the little herd and went toward the gate.

“Come, Come. It’s time to go.” And they all came right to her.

I loved that scene but what surprised me came next. Her older sister, who was also one who raised sheep, went to the far corner of the pen and she called to each of the lambs. Nothing happened. She called louder. Still there was no response from the lambs. Then she shouted the phrase “Come. Come. It’s time to go” and again nothing happened. Her oldest sister tried the same tactic but this time added a special whistle to the commands, and she got no response from the lambs. Then Brittany went to another corner of the pen and called each by name and each one came.

“See, Pastor Nancy, they know their names and they know my voice. They won’t go to anyone else. I love my lambs and they know it.”

I have never forgotten that lesson about sheep and some other words of “sheep behavior information” given to me by this lovely eight year old.

The Good Shepherd, Jesus, knows your name and calls to you. It is this same Good Shepherd who has stood by you through all the trials and tribulations of life. This is the one who will always be there for you. The 23rd Psalm is a song of joy and appreciation for God’s constant love for us. You aren’t alone. Even though you may have or are walking through what feels like a dark valley, filled with fearful things, remember that the Good Shepherd is always with you. And you will dwell in the presence of the eternal love of God all of your life and in the time to come.

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