United Benefice of
St Mildred’s, Whippingham
St James’, East Cowes
21st April 2021 Fourth Sunday of Easter
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
CURRENT WORSHIP ARRANGEMENTS
As we are allowed to gather in groups of 6 or less outdoors, there will be coffee and tea available in the Parish Centre garden at St Mildred’s if the weather remains suitable!
Meanwhile the diocesan website www.portsmouth.anglican.org still has a direct link to parishes that are streaming live worship, while for those unable to access such resources this pewsheet continues to contain material for offering a “spiritual communion” at home. You must do whatever feels right and safe for you.
Previous services at Whippingham are now being shown on YouTube via the following link:
Today’s service will appear on YouTube later this week.
FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:
Give thanks for: justice in America; hospitality venues reopening
Pray for: all preparing for marriage; all suffering from Covid especially in India; all who travel
PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:
Please pray for: Irene and Henry; Richard Gray; Bob Hitchens; Dave; Reg and Eileen King; Beryl; Maureen & Gordon; Joy and Dave; Oliver; Rita; Stuart; Thabani Maposa and family; Paul and family; James; Maureen; Jill; Catherine; families of those in mourning
Give thanks for: Catherine’s continuing recovery; care homes’ visiting arrangements improving
If you wish particular names to be added to the prayer list, please inform Rev Susan. All names will be reviewed on a monthly basis. Please keep Rev Susan updated if you would like a name to stay on the list beyond the current month.
PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:
All whose anniversaries occur at this time
COLLECT FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
faithful shepherd of your Father’s sheep:
teach us to hear your voice
and to follow your command,
that all your people may be gathered into one flock,
to the glory of God the Father.
NEW TESTAMENT READING Acts 4 : 5-12
5 The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, 6with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, ‘By what power or by what name did you do this?’ 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders, 9if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10let 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. 11This Jesus is
“the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.”
12There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.’
GOSPEL John 10 : 11-18
11 ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The 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. 13The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I 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. 17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18No 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.’
One of the problems about having a small chunk of scripture read to you in a service is that it is rare for anyone to have any idea of the context that piece of writing comes from. Sometimes the Church gets away with that, but at other times, it is really helpful to know what has been going on just before a particular incident is recounted, or even just afterwards – what happens next. Today, for instance, we have a passage from Acts that starts “The next day…” but no idea what happened the day before, although if you listen to what St Peter is saying you get some idea. In actual fact, Peter has just healed a crippled man in the name of Jesus, and that gives him scope to preach the gospel to the authorities who have arrested both him and John. It marks the beginning of an increasingly difficult relationship between the early church and the Temple authorities. It also shows how the church grows in confidence and in numbers in those early days.
The reading from John’s Gospel gives us much more than just a familiar saying about Jesus being the Good Shepherd. Again, it helps for us to realise that it arises out of the previous chapter, where the big discussion is as to whether Jesus is from God or not. If you’re interested in the structure of the Gospel, the question “Who is Jesus?” is one that comes as a theme, with John giving us repeated clues from the various miracles that are described. To John, the miracles are “signs”, which lead us to the ultimate truth with the raising of Lazarus as the turning point of the story. It’s only after that that the narrative pace picks up and we move swiftly into the passion, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The miracle that occurs in the chapter before today’s reading is the healing of a blind man, and at the conclusion of that particular incident Jesus tells his listeners that he has come into the world to give sight to the sightless as well as to make blind those who think they can see. Naturally that doesn’t go down too well with the scribes and Pharisees, but it is in that context that Jesus then launches into the description of the differences between a hired hand and the rightful shepherd. If you wanted a more up-to-date comparison for a non-shepherding society, you might say the differences between a CEO of a major corporation who is only interested in keeping his shares and dividends healthy so that his bonus is protected, and a small business owner who hopes his family will carry on the firm and who invests all his energy into looking after his employees like an extended family.
Now I think we have all noticed over this last year the human need for a society that cares about individual people and doesn’t treat them as faceless numbers. The way it is almost impossible to get to speak to a real person such as a doctor, optician, bank manager, council worker, and so on, has not led many people to think that the world is the better for becoming so dependent on the internet. The less personal any activity is, the fewer people it attracts to join it. We are so much more than two dimensional screen addicts. In just the same way, the official Temple system of Jesus’ day, with its rules and regulations and fat cats was infinitely less attractive than the good news Jesus was preaching and the fullness of life that he demonstrated through compassion. His life was hugely attractive to ordinary folk, and the word that describes that attractiveness in today’s gospel is simply “Good”.
“Good” can carry a whole spectrum of positives: we talk about a good book, a good cake, a good worker, a good holiday, and in each case we mean something slightly different. For Jesus to be the Good Shepherd doesn’t mean he was necessarily physically attractive, but that he was attractive as a leader, as a person to be trusted, and ultimately as a person who would give his very life, not only for God’s historically chosen people, but for the whole world, the sheep of another fold that he mentions.
The churches of today, and particularly the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, need to pay close attention to the work we do in Jesus’ name to make sure that it remains work where people are paramount rather than being some remote and complex structure that serves its own interests and cuts back ruthlessly on pastoral care. The pandemic has taught us without question that certain of our structures have to die in order for the life of Jesus to be revealed in the world as the power that we know it to be. I wonder what would happen if each parish actually paid for their own minister instead of there being a central payroll. If we were trusted to maintain our own buildings using local resources and materials. If the increasingly managerial attitudes were countered by prayerful local communities seeking God’s will for local communities. Would that begin to show the world that we are seriously following Jesus and putting our trust in him?
As the diocese, along with every other diocese, continues to try and plan for financial disaster and to relaunch our battered ship, we would do well to reflect on what it means to be “good” disciples and to pray both for our leaders and our own vocations. The Good Shepherd doesn’t march along behind his sheep, driving them into new pastures: he simply calls, and they hear his voice and follow him willingly because they know and trust him, wherever he takes them. May we follow gladly, because, as St Peter reminded us, 12There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved. Amen.
Christ our Cornerstone, we thank you for your churches across the world. Help us to live as Resurrection people who are united in love for you, in fellowship with each other and in compassion for the world. Bring us hope in the circumstances in which we find ourselves and a willingness to make sacrifices to further the Gospel. We pray for Bishop Christopher and his wife Sally as they begin their new life in retirement and thank you for all they have done in this diocese. Bless all those taking up extra work as we await the appointment of a new bishop, especially Bishop Rob, our interim bishop, and the three archdeacons, Peter, Jenny and Will.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
Christ the Good Shepherd, we thank you that wherever your flock is scattered, you find and lead back to your fold those who stray. Be our safe refuge when the wolves of secular management come among us, and give us wisdom to discern the path you set for us to tread. Spare us from hoarding our riches for ourselves and make us generous in giving our time, our security, our money and our gifts for the cause of your Kingdom; always knowing that it is in giving that we receive, in pardoning that we are pardoned and in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
Christ the Gate of the sheepfold, may our doors always be wide open to welcome the stranger and closed to pettiness, prejudice or unkindness. Help us to see your image in those we meet and to value the diversity of your creation. Help us too to acknowledge that there are sheep of other folds whom you are also calling and leading to safe pastures, and take away from us any pride in our own consequence or wish to be the first in your kingdom. Give us instead the openness and trust of children as we seek to minister in your name.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
Christ the Light of the world, we ask that in your light we may see light, and that you will send the light of your presence into the lives of those living with doubt, illness, loneliness or bereavement. Send your Holy Spirit to comfort and sustain all those who feel abandoned and whose paths ahead are unclear. We remember before you all those named on our pewsheet, and in a time of quiet offer to you those known to ourselves.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, we bring before you all who have died and ask you to look mercifully upon them in this their final journey. At journey’s end, may they step gently into your Kingdom and be surrounded by the fellowship of the saints in glory as they meet you face to face. Grant to those of us here on earth a firm faith in the resurrection to new life that is your will for all your faithful servants.
Accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour, Jesus Christ,
PREPARING FOR SPIRITUAL COMMUNION
In union, Lord, with the faithful at every altar of your Church, where the Holy Eucharist is celebrated, I offer you praise and thanksgiving. I present to you my soul and body with the sure hope that I may always be united to you. And since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, I ask you to come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself to you and embrace you with all my being. Let nothing ever separate you from me. May I live and die in your love. Amen.
You might like to sit in silence for a while, then pray:
you gave your Son Jesus Christ to be the good shepherd,
and in his love for us to lay down his life and rise again:
keep us always under his protection,
and give us grace to follow in his steps;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To conclude, either listen to the music links below or simply rest quietly in God’s presence
ST MILDRED’S CAFÉ
The Café is now open on Mondays to Thursdays from 10.00am – 3.00pm. Please contact Sue Richmond (297883) for up to date details!
St Mildred’s APCM is still to be arranged, so watch this space.
St James’ APCM will be TODAY at 10.30am in church, following the morning service. If you are interested in standing for PCC membership please have a word with the wardens!