Community of Christ

Worship Resources - 22 April 2018

Worship Suggestions

Fourth Sunday of Easter

JOHN 10:11–18

Listen to the Good Shepherd

Additional Scriptures

Acts 4:5–12, Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16–24


Worship Setting

Display or project many images of Jesus as the Good Shepherd throughout the service.

Prelude

Welcome

Hymn of Invitation

“Come Away from Rush and Hurry”           CCS   83

OR “Draw the Circle Wide”           CCS 273

Call to Worship

John 10:11, 14–16

Prayer for Peace

Light the peace candle.

“My Peace”        CCS 149

Have a soloist sing the song two times through as the Prayer for Peace or have the congregation read the words with an instrument or audio recording playing the tune.

For more ideas: The Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, can be found on the church’s website as Calendar Events at www.CofChrist.org /daily-prayer-for-peace.

Scripture Reading:Psalm 23

Read as a monologue where the actor is reflecting on his or her reading of this scripture or as a responsive reading with the congregants reading the reflections.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Lord, there are many times that I am resistant to your guidance and care.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.

Thank you for your persistence in my life…

He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

…and for your gentle loving guidance.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,

I fear no evil; for you ARE with me!

your rod and your staff—they comfort me.

In you I find peace.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

There are many times I have wronged others; times I have not cared for my brothers and sisters. And yet, your grace abounds…

you anoint my head with oil;

And your blessings continue to be poured out for ME! My cup overflows!

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,

I will acknowledge your presence and guidance in my life, living my life as a blessing to others in your name.

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

Hymn of Reflection

“My Shepherd Will Supply My Need”         CCS 247

OR “The Lord’s My Shepherd”      CCS 259

Disciples’ Generous Response

Scripture Reading: 1 John 3:16–18

As you share financially through Mission Tithes, or if you give regularly through eTithing, please use this time to consider your commitment and how you will tithe to your true capacity of time, talent, and testimony.

Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

Hymn of Offering

“Brothers and Sisters of Mine”     CCS 616

OR “Take My Life and Let It Be”  CCS 608

For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.

Scripture Reading

John 10:11–18

Hymn of Centering (sing two or three times)

“Let This Mind Be in You”              CCS 169

OR “Santo, santosanto/Holy, Holy, Holy”             CCS 159

Encourage participants to sing in a language different from their own.                                                                                                                                                                             

Morning Message: “Listen to the Good Shepherd”

Based on John 10:11–18

Hymn of Sending Forth

“Take the Path of the Disciple”    CCS 558

“The Church of Christ Cannot Be Bound” CCS 347

Benediction

Response

Sending Forth

1 John 3:23–24

Postlude

Sermon Helps

Fourth Sunday of Easter

JOHN 10:11–18 

Exploring the Scripture

Many name the fourth Sunday of Easter as Good Shepherd Sunday. Today’s Gospel text and the 23rd Psalm provide an intense image of Jesus, the incarnation of God as the Word made flesh, as the good shepherd for the children of Earth.

Through our modern-day lens, we often underestimate the role of shepherd. It is a thankless job. It requires a deep and lasting love for the sheep. Being a shepherd involves a commitment that goes way beyond a casual relationship. It includes a selfless willingness to give up one’s life for the flock. 

The Greek word, kalos—translated as “good” shepherd—means more than the opposite of “bad” in its original language. The word also means “model.” Jesus is not only a good shepherd but also a model shepherd for us.

In a few short verses, this parable represents the depth Jesus willingly works toward for God’s people. It upholds the communal nature of the call to life as a disciple. It highlights the inclusive nature of Jesus’ invitation to all who will listen. It implies the role of disciple in following Jesus’ model of sacrificial service for the sake of all.

Jesus invites everyone into relationship with the Divine and one another at all costs. “God yearns to draw you close…” (Doctrine and Covenants 163:10a). Eventually, we decide whether to accept the invitation.

Therefore, to hear the invitation we have to be open and listening. We have to engage in opportunities that allow us to hear the voice of God. It also means we have to center on Christ so we can recognize and discern Christ’s invitation from the other voices calling out to us (see “Hark! The Voice of Jesus Calling” Community of Christ Sings 592).

We live in a busy world where there are many demands for our attention. In our busyness, we become tired, discouraged, misguided, and lost. Today’s text reminds us the good shepherd is always calling our names, trying to keep us on track, providing support and encouragement, and inviting us into relationship with him and others of the faith community.

Mission begins when we encounter the Divine. Mission is relational—our encounters with God draw us into relationship with the Divine and then with others. Genuine relationships with God and one another provide the foundation for journeying together in discernment and mission. To be able to hear Christ’s voice both individually and collectively, we need to create opportunities for encounter and relationship building. Shared spiritual practices within the body help “the flock” stay connected with one another and the shepherd.

Too often we see spiritual formation as something private and individual. This parable reminds us of the communal nature of discipleship and discernment. When we work together to hear Christ’s voice, we are better able to discover God’s purposes for the Earth and our part as a congregation to help bring about God’s vision of shalom. Shared spiritual practices provide discipline to our communal centering and listening.

Hearing Christ’s voice disrupts our lives. We recognize opportunities around us where we can help resolve injustice and brokenness. We are drawn—individually and collectively—out of our routines and comfort zones and into Christ’s mission. Jesus, our model of the good shepherd, sends us to be the good shepherd for others.

Central Ideas

  1. Jesus, the good shepherd, laid down his life to invite us into relationship with God.
  2. To hear Christ’s voice and his invitation, we must stop and listen.
  3. To recognize Christ’s voice and invitation, we must be in relationship with him.
  4. Genuine relationships with God and one another provide the foundation for journeying together in discernment and mission.
  5. Spiritual practices help us deepen our relationships with Jesus, with God, and with others.
  6. Listening to the shepherd, we are sent to be good shepherds for others.

Questions to Consider

  1. What does it mean that mission begins with encounter and is relational?
  2. What spiritual practices help us hear Christ’s voice individually and collectively?
  3. Who are the other “sheep” that need to hear Christ’s voice?
  4. How can you reach out to others and help them hear? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small-group Worship Suggestions

Fourth Sunday of Easter

JOHN 10:11–18 NRSV

The Facilitator Notes provide an overview of Sacred Space and how to use the resource to best meet ministry needs. This is a must read for first-time users.

The weekly outline and handouts provide everything needed to plan and facilitate a scripture-focused Sacred Space gathering and includes additional options such as Thoughts for Children.


Gathering

Welcome

Prayer for Peace

Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.

God—Creator—loving Parent of us all—
We rejoice when we sense your loving Spirit around us.
We laugh and sing when our hearts are united.
We praise you when we have enough for our needs.
It is easy—in good times—to forget the others are not as fortunate—whose needs for food and shelter are not met, who do not know what it is to feel love, who have no time or energy for laughing or singing.
We pray for them and for us.
As we search for ways to create a world of shalom—of peace and justice—forgive us for our lack of vision.
Help us recognize our many brothers and sisters in our families, our neighborhoods, our world. Grant us strength to live simply that others’ needs might be met.
Give us wisdom in our words and actions that others may be encouraged.
Help us understand that love must be passed on, or it dies.
We call you by many names, but we are one family. Unite us in a common goal—a common will that your kingdom may truly come, and peace and justice will cover the Earth. Amen.
—Pam Robison 

Spiritual Practice

Dwelling in the Word

I will read a scripture aloud. As you listen allow words, images, or phrases to come to mind. Try not to focus on them. Let them rest with you.

After a moment of silence I will read the scripture a second time. As you hear the scripture again, listen for how God’s Spirit nudges you or catches your attention.

Read the scripture:

Psalm 23, NRSV

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

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.

Pause. Read the scripture a second time. Invite group members to share responses to these questions:

  1. What words, phrases, or images came to mind?
  2. How is God’s Spirit present with you today?

Sharing Around the Table

John 10:11–18 NRSV

“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.”

The fourth Sunday of Easter often is referred to as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Today’s Gospel text and the 23rd Psalm provide an intense image of Jesus as the good (or model) Shepherd for the children of Earth.

Through our modern-day lens, we often underestimate the role of the shepherd. It is a thankless job. It requires a deep and lasting love for the sheep. Being a shepherd involves a commitment that goes beyond a casual relationship. It includes a selfless willingness to give up one’s life for the flock.

As Shepherd, Jesus seeks to draw everyone into relationship with the Divine. To hear the call of the Shepherd we have to be open, listening, and centered on Christ, so we can recognize and discern Christ’s voice from all the other voices clamoring for our attention.
We live in a busy world where we become tired, discouraged, misguided, and lost. Today’s text reminds us the Good Shepherd is always calling our names, trying to keep us on track, providing support and encouragement, and inviting us into relationship with him and others of the faith community. To be able to hear Christ’s voice individually and collectively, we need to create opportunities for building relationships and engaging in spiritual practices within the body. Shared spiritual practices provide discipline to our communal centering and listening.

Hearing Christ’s voice disrupts our lives. We recognize opportunities around us where we can help resolve injustice and brokenness. We are drawn—individually and collectively—out of our routines and comfort zones and into Christ’s mission. Jesus, our model of the Good Shepherd, sends us to be the good shepherd for others.

Questions

  1. How do you listen for the Shepherd’s voice?
  2. What spiritual practices are most helpful to you?
  3. How can you be a “good” or “model” shepherd for others?

Sending

Generosity Statement

“Sharing for the common good is the spirit of Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 165:2f).

We receive God’s grace and generosity. The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response.

This offering prayer is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:

God of rejoicing, we share our gifts joyfully and with thanksgiving in response to the generous gifts you have given us. May the offerings we share bring joy, hope, love, and peace into the lives of others that they might experience your mercy and grace. Amen.

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

CCS 264, “O Lord, My Shepherd”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

•    Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
•    Thoughts for Children

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