from the Book of Common Prayer
ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father
We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts
We have offended against thy holy laws
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done
And we have done those things which we ought not to have done
And there is no health in us:
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us miserable offenders;
Spare thou them, O God, which confess their faults, Restore thou them that are penitent
According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesu our Lord:
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake
That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name.
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
“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.”
Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
The God of love my shepherd is,
and he that doth me feed;
while he is mine and I am his,
what can I want or need?
He leads me to the tender grass,
where I both feed and rest;
then to the streams that gently pass:
in both I have the best.
Or if I stray, he doth convert,
and bring my mind in frame,
and all this not for my desert,
but for his holy name.
Yea, in death’s shady black abode
well may I walk, not fear;
for thou art with me, and thy rod
to guide, thy staff to bear.
Surely thy sweet and wondrous love
shall measure all my days;
and, as it never shall remove,
so neither shall my praise.
The Good Shepherd from Julia
One of the earliest images of Jesus, found in ancient wall-paintings, is that of a rosy-faced, curly-haired shepherd boy. It was only when the state adopted the church that Jesus is depicted wearing the robes of a Byzantine emperor. The early Christian communities followed the example of this beautiful young man, whose care and tenderness for his flock knew no bounds – even that of life itself.
Passover lambs on hillsides must have surrounded Jesus and his disciples as they wandered the countryside of Galilee. Jesus would have had plenty of time to contemplate sheep. And he would have been as familiar with the words of Psalm 23 as were our own grandmothers. So why does he not speak of himself as the Good Shepherd earlier in the gospels? How is it that we only hear of the Good Shepherd after the resurrection?
The followers of Jesus, then as much as now, wondered what really happened to Jesus when he died. There are various explanations in the gospels. They were told that now all things are new, but it was hard to see. The gospel writers tell us that the Jesus of the resurrection, Jesus the Good Shepherd, Jesus the draegoman, not only goes ahead of us but also comes back to bring us to a place of rest and refreshment.
Resting places aren’t necessarily quiet. Neither are they a place to escape pain and troubles. On the contrary, they can be dark and difficult places. But whatever sorrow and turmoil there may be, they are also profoundly peaceful places, because God is always present.
If just for a few moments we can let go and allow our minds to wander, like sheep on the hillside, we may discover that we are being led back to a resting place, a space or a time where we felt blessed. And then it is simple to believe that God will grant our deepest desires.
As the psalmist sang: ‘You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; you have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over’. Then it is simple to believe that surely God’s goodness will follow us all the days of my life and we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin
my hand will save.
I, who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go, Lord, if you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart
I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people’s pain.
I have wept for love of them.
They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my words to them.
Whom shall I send?
I, the Lord of wind and flame,
I will send the poor and lame.
I will set a feast for them.
My hand will save.
Finest bread I will provide
till their hearts be satisfied.
I will give my life to them.
Whom shall I send?
Prepared by Esther Makinde
Almighty and Everlasting God, we thank you for the privilege of being able to worship you alive again today. We cannot thank you enough for this mercy and we ask you Lord to continue to give us more long life to enable us to continue giving you thanks and praise.
Heavenly Father, we ask that you bless bishops and clergies all over the world, including ours here at St Peter’s. Continue to let them direct and show us your ways in their preaching that we may continue to live as good Christians and examples to our neighbours.
We ask for your blessings on Julia, Sarah and Matthew and their families as well as on all those who volunteer their time and energy for the smooth running of St Peter’s.
We thank you Loving Father for the present state of the UK, that we can see a light at the end of the tunnel in respect of the Global Health Emergency named Coronavirus.
We ask that you continue to direct all the world leaders to do whatever it takes to lessen the hardships incurred in the process of keeping their subjects safe and alive against the deadly disease. We also ask that you please look down on us with favour and let us all survive the disease.
Give us strength and patience to endure the discomfort associated with the prevention of us catching the disease so that we may praise your name for making us survivors at the end of the Pandemic.
Lord of all hopes and fears, we ask that you bless our community and let us continue to live in peace and harmony free from all evils and crimes. May it please the Lord to bless our youths and direct them in the right way to live a clean life full of good achievements.
We pray at this special time for our NHS front line workers, doctors, nurses, all the paramedics and care workers, that you please in your Fatherly Mercy bless all of them and their families and continue to protect them from the dangers in carrying out their duties.
We pray for all those who have recently passed away, especially in respect of the Coronavirus, that you please console their families and give them the fortitude to bear their loss. We also pray for those whose anniversaries fall at this time.
Eternal rest grant unto them, oh Lord, and may thy perpetual light shine upon them.
Lord, we put all our hopes and fears in you and ask for your life assurance on our lives and drive away our fears, that we may continue to praise and worship you throughout our lives and let us all be great survivors of our present Pandemic.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.
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.
The God of peace,
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great shepherd of the sheep,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will;
and the blessing …
Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
there is no shadow of turning with thee;
thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
as thou hast been thou forever wilt be.
Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
all I have needed thy hand hath provided–
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love. [Refrain]
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! [Refrain]
You can read the weekly message from Rev’d Julie Porter-Pryce here.
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