Online Devotion for the Third Sunday after Easter

St. Giles’ Cathedral
Online Devotion for the Third Sunday after Easter
Sunday May 3 2020

 

 

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.

Psalm 23: 4

Let us worship God.
The lesson is written in the gospel according to St. John in the 10th chapter.
“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. 2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

The Word of the Lord; thanks be to God.

 
Hymn: The Lord’s my shepherd

The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want:
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green: he leadeth me
the quiet waters by.

Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,
yet will I fear none ill;
For thou art with me, and thy rod
and staff me comfort still.

My soul he doth restore again,
and me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
e’en for his own name’s sake.

My table thou hast furnishèd
in presence of my foes;
My head thou dost with oil anoint,
and my cup overflows.

Goodness and mercy all my life
shall surely follow me;
And in God’s house for evermore
my dwelling-place shall be.

Text: Psalm 23

Music: Stracathro
Charles Hutcheson 1792-1860

Reflection
Jesus said “I am the Good Shepherd.”

I wonder what image pops into your mind when you hear these words of Jesus. Perhaps you immediately go to the 23rd Psalm and see green pastures and still waters, dark valleys and overflowing cups.

Indeed the reference to ‘dark valleys’ (or “the valley of the shadow of death” in the Authorised Version) has particular resonance for us during this health crisis. The scholar Walter Brueggemann in a commentary on the psalm writes that “The sheep moves into and through such places because of its utter trust and confidence in the shepherd.”

For some people the ‘Good Shepherd metaphor may take them to their Sunday School class or Grandma’s living room where there hangs a picture of a gaunt, European-featured Jesus, bathed in light, dressed in a long robe, with a shepherd’s crook and a lamb on his shoulder.

My grandfather and uncles kept sheep on their crofts on the Isle of Lewis as part of their livelihood. The wool brought some income. I remember helping out with the sheep when I would be there on holiday. Lambing around the Easter holidays; gathering, shearing and dipping in the summer months.

The reality is that shepherds are not those gentle, rather soft characters carrying tiny lambs around. They are rugged characters dressed in jeans and overalls roaming hills with dogs either on foot or perhaps in a four-wheeler. And the sheep they tend are not the cute little lambs we see at the petting zoo but unruly, frightened, kind of stupid animals with a herd mentality and a peculiar habit of running in every direction except the one required of them.

It’s hard work being a shepherd and taking on the responsibility for such creatures. Work so hard that it sometimes takes the life out of you. Thanks be to God.

Anthem: Jauchzet dem Herrn

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Text: Psalm 100
Music: Heinrich Schütz 1585-1672

Prayer
Let us pray.
My Christ, my shield, my encircler,
each day, each night, each light, each dark,
be near me, uphold me, my treasure, my triumph.

We pray for our nation and our world,
giving thanks for good health where we have it
and asking for strength and protection
where we do not.

Guide our leaders, Lord,
locally, nationally, internationally,
that they would make wise decisions
benefitting the world and its people.

Give wisdom to the scientists and researchers;
courage and fortitude to health care workers;
strength and safety to essential workers
who keep food supply lines open
and who staff our supermarkets.

Hear our prayer for ourselves and others as we join together in the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father,
which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil;
for thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory
for ever and ever, Amen.

The Benediction
Be of good courage, render no-one evil for evil,
but hold fast to the good;
and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the Communion of the Holy Spirit
be with you
and all whom you love
this day and for ever.

(Amen)

Organ Voluntary
Johann Nikolaus Hanff  Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott
 

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