Sunday, 25th April

Together in Prayer
4th Sunday of Easter

O Lord open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
In your resurrection, O Christ,
heaven and earth rejoice. Alleluia.

Blessed are you, Lord God of our salvation,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
As once you ransomed your people from Egypt
and led them to freedom in the promised land,
so now you have delivered us from the dominion of darkness
and brought us into the kingdom of your risen Son.
May we, the first fruits of your new creation,
rejoice in this new day you have made,
and praise you for your mighty acts.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.

Preparing our Hearts
Who is it that you seek?
We seek the Lord our God.
Do you seek Him with all your heart?
Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Do you seek Him with all your soul?
Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Do you seek Him with all your mind?
Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Do you seek Him with all your strength?
Amen. Christ, have mercy.

Psalm 23
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil; for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
my whole life long.

Prayers of Penitence
God has shone in our hearts
to give the light of the knowledge of his glory
in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels
to show that the transcendent power
belongs to God and not to us.
As we acknowledge our human frailty,
we call to mind our sins of word, deed and omission,
and confess them before God our Father…

We have lived by our own strength,
and not by the power of your resurrection.
In your mercy, forgive us

Lord, hear us and help us
We have lived by the light of our own eyes,
and not in light of your kindness and love,
In your mercy, forgive us.
Lord, hear us and help us.

We have lived for the desires of the world,
and forgotten your call to holiness and grace.
In your mercy, forgive us.
Lord, hear us and help us.

Receiving Forgiveness
Almighty God,
who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon us,
pardon and deliver us from all our sins,
confirm and strengthen us in all goodness,
and keep us in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Collect for 4th Sunday of Easter
Almighty God,
whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life:
raise us, who trust in him,
from the death of sin to the life of righteousness,
that we may seek those things which are above,
where he reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Acts 4: 5-12
The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is
‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;
it has become the cornerstone.’
There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.

John 10: 11-18
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away – and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So, there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”
This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.

Thought for the week: Rev Joe Knight
A few weeks ago, a story broke in the news about the Regent Honeyeater, an endangered bird in South East Australia. The story caught my attention, not only because of the conservations efforts in aiding its survival and protecting its habitat, but something terrible was happening to the remaining birds in the wild:

The Regent Honeyeater is forgetting its song.

In the region where they live, they are so sparse that they do not have enough contact with other birds of the same species to help them learn their song, and so individual birds are pretending, bumbling along with different songs or trying a poor imitation of songs from other bird species.
I don’t know about you, but I find the story quite heart-breaking. The idea of this little bird not knowing what to sing, searching for kith and kin to help teach them their song. But it’s more serious than that, a birds’ song is vital to its survival.
The story is a serious one in its own right, but it does, don’t you think, provide an interesting metaphor for life today.
If we are to survive and thrive, we need others.
Especially as we seek to build community again after months of lockdown and isolation.
Our reading from John’s gospel comes straight after Jesus’ amazing revelation when he declares ‘I have come that you may have life, life in all its fullness.’ He is talking about a life lived in the abundance of God’s grace, life lived in close proximity, in nearness to the one whom all life, and love, and joy becomes true and real.
And in the words we read this morning, we are taken deeper into that reality. Jesus says that life to the full is about knowing, and being known:
“I am the good shepherd,” he says, “I know my own, and my own know me.”
I think this is something that we cannot contemplate enough: the God who made the world, the God who laid his life down for the world, the God who is not far off but draws near the world, to affirm it, love it, to heal its wounds, that same God knows you, he knows me…this is summed up so beautifully in the words of a fantastic book for children:
From my fingers to my toes,
From my knees to my nose
God knows all about me

When I’m good, when I’m bad
When happy, when I’m sad
God knows all about me

In the early morning light
In the middle of the night
God knows all about me

When I jump up and down
When I’m spinning round and round
God knows all about me

From my bottom, to my belly
When I’m sweet and when I’m smelly
God knows all about me

When I whisper, when I shout
When I let my feelings out
God knows all about me

When it rains, when it snows

When I’ve got a runny nose,
God knows all about me.

When I run, when I skip
When I stumble and I trip,
God knows all about me

From the beginning, to the end.
God will always be my friend.
God knows all about me.
He knows and he cares.

In our world, there are lots of things that would like to teach us our true song, imitating abundant life, true love, real joy, telling us what we need and what we do not have; but they only give us a poor imitation of our true song. Life in all its fullness comes from Jesus alone. As Peter declared in our reading from Acts, ‘there is salvation in no one else; there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved.’
And, like the Regent Honeyeater birds, who need to be near others to learn their song. We too need one another, and above all, we need to be near Jesus, who shepherds us, who teaches us how to live and how to sing, so we can learn how to live life with him, in the fullness of his love and grace … I’ll end with that famous, wonderful prayer of the Thirteenth Century Bishop, Richard of Chichester:
O, most merciful redeemer, friend and brother,
May I know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly,
And follow thee more nearly, day by day.



Father, we give you thanks for the risen Lord,
the Good Shepherd, who seeks out and saves all who are lost.
We pray for all who are walking in the valley of the shadow at
this time, for all whose lives are hard or being made hard,
and for all being attacked by evil.
May they know your love and protection.
We remember all who are called to share
in the shepherding of your people,
we pray for our bishops Rachael and Robert, for Joe, Sarah
and Fred and all who work hard to support our church communities.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

We ask that you continue to guide all medical personnel who
continue to provide the care for all who need it.
We pray for all who look after others.
We give thanks for all those charities
who seek out and befriend the needy.
For all who work tirelessly to support foodbanks within our communities.
We pray that their voices may be heard by all those who lead our country.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

Lord, we remember all who have protected us and guided us.
We pray for all who have supported us in times of need,
those who have stayed with us in times of darkness.
We pray for our homes and our loved ones,
for our friends and neighbours, and for all in our communities.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

Lord, we come with all who have entered into weakness, darkness or
trouble this week.
We pray for all who cannot pray for themselves,
For all who lost their memory or reason,
For all who are facing death, especially those who are lonely.
May they know the Good Shepherd is with them.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

Finally, Lord, may we learn to abide in you,
and know that you abide in us.
May we know that nothing separates us from you.
We pray for all who have passed through darkness
and have entered light and life everlasting.
Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your son our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Let us join all our prayers into one, by saying the Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

The Blessing
Lord, set your blessing on us
as we begin this day together.
Confirm in us the truth
by which we rightly live;
confront us with the truth
from which we wrongly turn.
We ask not for what we want
but for what you know we need,
as we offer this day and ourselves
for you and to you
through Jesus Christ, our Saviour

The Grace
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
And the love of God
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
Be with us all, evermore. Amen