Fourth Sunday of Easter
Listen to the Good Shepherd
Acts 4:5–12, Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16–24
Display or project many images of Jesus as the Good Shepherd throughout the service.
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
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.
Hymn of Centering (sing two or three times)
“Let This Mind Be in You” CCS 169
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
1 John 3:23–24
Fourth Sunday of Easter
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
Jesus invites everyone into
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
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.
- Jesus, the good shepherd, laid down his life to
inviteus into relationshipwith God.
- To hear Christ’s voice and his invitation, we must stop and listen.
- To recognize Christ’s voice and invitation, we must be in
- Genuine relationships with God and one another provide the foundation for journeying together in discernment and mission.
- Spiritual practices help us deepen our relationships with Jesus, with God, and with others.
- Listening to the shepherd, we are sent to be good shepherds for others.
Questions to Consider
- What does it mean that mission begins with encounter and is relational?
- What spiritual practices help us hear Christ’s voice individually and collectively?
- Who are the other “sheep” that need to hear Christ’s voice?
- How can you reach out to others and help them hear?