Fourth Sunday of Easter

Alleluia, Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Opening Hymn

Readings

Acts 2:42-end (NLT)

42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

John 10:1-10 (NLT)

“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”

Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Sermon

What does a rich and satisfying life mean to you?

It might be hard to imagine a rich and satisfying life when we are living under such restrictions. Unable to visit loved ones, unable to hang out with friends, unable to touch and hug and comfort each other, unable to get away from home and some of the problems or simple boredom we experience there. Yet perhaps, in some of the enforced simplicity of lockdown, you have rediscovered some of the things that truly matter: relationships, making food, watching nature, enjoying exercise and fresh air.

Jesus said that he came to bring those who follow him a rich and satisfying life. And the early church community certainly seemed to have that. They devoted themselves to Jesus’ teaching, gathered regularly for worship and prayer, shared fellowship (which I always think of as the kind of friendship which helps you follow Jesus) and cared for those in need. As they did these things, they showed their neighbours something of God’s goodness. As they did these things, they saw God work among them in amazing and unexpected ways.

We may not be able to gather in our churches for worship as we used to, but we can still try and live as the early church did. We can use this time to devote ourselves to following Jesus, to prayer and to worship in our homes. We can support one another in friendship. We can care for each other, sharing with those in need what we have and receiving from others what we need in our turn. In these simple ways, we might show the love of God to our neighbours. And perhaps, as God is gracious, we might see God do amazing things among us and around us.

There can be rich and satisfying life, even in lockdown, when Jesus is involved…

Music for Reflection

Intercessions

Loving God, we pray for those whose lives are empty;
for all who feel alone and unloved;
for those whose lives lack purpose.
Lord of love,
bring them abundant life.

We pray for those whose lives are filled with anger and bitterness;
for those who cannot let go of the past,
and so have no present or future.
Lord of love,
bring them abundant life.

We pray for those whose lives are filled with anguish and pain;
for those who suffer depression;
for those who are afraid or anxious;
for those who cannot see a way forward.
Lord of love,
bring them abundant life.

We pray for those who are unwell;
for those who watch someone they love suffering ill health;
for those who care for those who are sick.
In a moment of quiet we name before you those we know who are struggling today.
Lord of love,
bring them abundant life.

We pray for those who have died
and those walking the hard and lonely path of grief.
Lord of love,
bring them abundant life.

Loving God, may your abundant life
fill our world, our church and ourselves,
in the name of Jesus.
Amen.

Closing Hymn

One thought on “Fourth Sunday of Easter

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