Day by day, God leads us:
to the deep, deep pools of peace,
Day by day, Jesus calls us:
to pour out ourselves in service,
Day by day, the Holy Spirit shows us:
the community we could be,
the family we are called to become
Hymn 16 – The Lord’s my shepherd
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God of the ages, God of today,
You are compassion; our cup overflows.
You are hope; you lead us into green pastures.
You are truth; you lead us beside quiet streams.
You are life; you restore our souls.
Morning, noon and night, O God, you are the source of our joy.
As a shepherd gathers their flock
so, Good Shepherd, you gather us here today
to feed and refresh us.
Some of us come rejoicing
because our path has led through green pastures;
some come battered and bruised by life
because our path has led through dark and frightening valleys.
We need to know Your strength restoring our souls;
some of us, like foolish sheep, come before You ashamed
because we have wandered astray instead of following You
and now we come seeking Your forgiveness.
Thank You that in your grace
You seek us out,
You find us,
You help us,
and give us now joy and hope.
we confess we stray from your ways like lost sheep.
We follow the desires of our own hearts,
ignoring the needs of others.
We judge ourselves more generously than others.
We fail to offer others the forgiveness we seek from you.
We nurse grudges and cling to our own opinions.
Forgive the ways we betray your love,
and return us to your paths of truth and mercy.
Christ’s forgiveness he offers is a gift of this love.
Receive God’s forgiveness with faithful hearts,
and be at peace with God, with yourself and with each other.
Readings – Acts 9: 36- 43
John 10: 22 -30
Hymn 351 – Jesus’ hands were kind hands
Risen Lord as we reflect on Peter’s healing of the seamstress Dorcas, we give thanks for all those pursuing activities throughout our Cheviot Churches and the valuable and ongoing function they fulfil. We remember too that Jesus himself, our Good Shepherd promised eternal life to all who follow Him and for this we give you our heartfelt thanks. Amen
The phone rang the other day; I picked it up, and immediately the person began to speak, ‘Hello Colin. How are you?’ I recognised the voice, but could I come up with a name. I am sure we have all been in such situations. I desperately looked for hints in what she said, but it was only after we finished the call that it clicked who it was. Of course, I should have just asked straight out who it was, but they seemed to know me so well. In the Gospel we read: my sheep know my voice.
The phone rang the other day. There was a pause, then someone I didn’t know sought to persuade me that I was eligible for a health monitor and asked what age was I exactly. I politely declined. That was mild. I know that many of us have been plagued with callers, saying, for example, they are from the bank and needing our details; seeking to bamboozle us into giving them money. ‘My sheep know my voice’, but there are other voices we don’t know and shouldn’t trust.
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday, when every year we look at a different section of John 10, the chapter in which Jesus says that he is the Good Shepherd, and John talks about Christ’s relationship with his flock. How he protects them from the robbers and thieves who seem determined to waylay the sheep. But in our passage today we are taken to winter, to the feast of Dedication, more commonly called Hannukah. It is a festival of lights commemorating how, at a time of severe oppression, when the Jewish faith was threatened, the oil to light the candelabra in the Temple had run out, but the lights kept burning. At this feast, people asked Jesus if he were the Messiah. They were most probably laying a trap, for it was putting Jesus in an impossible position. If he said Yes, then they would jump to conclusions that he would lead the fight against the Romans; if he said No, he would be lying. Instead, he continues to talk about his relationship to the flock, and how he knows his flock, and his flock know his voice; they recognise him and follow him.
What’s more, he says that to those sheep who listen to his voice and follow him, Jesus promises eternal life, and no-one can snatch them from his hand. No thief, no robber, for, we are told that the Father is more powerful than anyone.
That is an incredible promise. It is not us holding onto God, but God holds on to us, and God won’t let go. That is a wonderful assurance. The Lord knows the sheep and knows them all by name and won’t let go of us, but will ever keep us in his care.
That is shown in the Acts reading. In Acts we see the Early Church in action and how the disciples were transformed into people to turn the world upside down. Today we read of Dorcas, who had become a follower of Jesus, who listened for his voice and was led to do good works. She had made a name for herself in her community for helping the poor. Here, she would be a member of the Craft group in Yetholm or the group in Morebattle who knit for Lebanon, for she made clothes. She died, and there was much grief and her neighbours held up clothes she had made. She had made a real impact on her community through her kind works and through her generosity, touched people with the live of God. No-one could snatch her away; she was held in God’s care. Peter comes and, just as Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter to life, so Peter raises Dorcas, an affirmation of the good and faithful life she led. She is held in the embrace of God.
In our world there are many voices coming to us; we must attune our ears to hear the voice of Christ, the Christ who leads us on and calls us to acts of service and love.
Hymn 528 – Make me a channel of your peace
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Generous God, thank you for all the many good things we have received from you in Christ and in creation.
Bless the gifts we bring and use them in the service of your reign of justice and peace.
Lord Jesus Christ,
You came to us bearing God’s love,
to walk with us as our Good Shepherd,
showing us how to love each other.
You pray with us and for us day by day.
Today we turn to you with our hopes and concerns in these uncertain times.
Draw near to us and to all those for whom we pray,
so that your love will be known in our world this day.
we pray for our community and the world
in these uncertain times.
We remember everyone in need:
those struggling with economic upheaval and the high cost of living,
those who know sorrow because someone has died or gone away,
those who live in pain or fear, or face some kind of discrimination.
Surround them with your love and courage;
bring them support from their neighbours,
and guide each child and young person into the future.
Today we pray for all who suffer and are not cared for
the old who die alone,
the young who are neglected or cruelly treated,
young and old whose weaknesses are exploited,
and sensitivities abused,
all who are led astray,
all who are exploited,
for the vulnerable who are taken advantage of
and have no-one to stand by their side.
We pray for all who have grown hopeless
in their hunger and homelessness –
refugees from war and violence
trapped at borders or in makeshift camps,
those whose lives have been wrecked by conflicts
they do not understand
and cannot affect or change,
victims of military aggression
or political ideology
Bring peace with justice to this troubled world.
We pray for all young people as they sit exams at this time, that they may give of their best effort. We pray for their future, that they may make a full contribution to society.
Lord Jesus, you are our Good Shepherd,
guiding us through dark valleys and green pastures.
We thank you for your presence with us in all times and situations Hear us as in silence we offer the prayers of our hearts.
Hymn 355 – You Lord are both lamb and shepherd
My dearest Lord.
Be Thou a bright flame before me.
Be Thou a guiding star above me.
Be Thou a smooth path beneath me.
Be Thou a kindly shepherd behind me.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord, and may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you, now and always. Amen.