Morning Service for the Fourth Sunday of Easter 2022


The image of Shepherd and sheep is a powerful one, it's comforting and picturesque - it's not particularly exciting, or, on the face of it, particularly emboldening, and it doesn't say much for we who are the sheep, but when times are hard it's nice to know that there is someone else in charge. 

Morning Service for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

HYMN Jesus where’er they people meet NEH 390 AMR 245- St Sepulchre

1 Jesus, where’er thy people meet,

There they behold thy mercy-seat;

Where’er they seek thee, thou art found,

And every place is hallowed ground.

2 For thou, within no walls confined,

Inhabitest the humble mind;

Such ever bring thee where they come,

And going, take thee to their home.

3 Dear Shepherd of thy chosen few,

Thy former mercies here renew;

Here to our waiting hearts proclaim

The sweetness of thy saving name.

4 Here may we prove the power of prayer,

To strengthen faith and sweeten care;

To teach our faint desires to rise,

And bring all heaven before our eyes.

5 Lord, we are few, but thou art near;

Nor short thine arm, nor deaf thine ear;

O rend the heavens, come quickly down,

And make a thousand hearts thine own!

Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen


Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith, 

firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments and to live in love and peace with all.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour
in thought and word and deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
who died for us, forgive us all that is past
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name. Amen.

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit,
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.


Almighty God,

whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life:

raise us, who trust in him,

from the death of sin to the life of righteousness,

that we may seek those things which are above,

where he reigns with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

FIRST READING – Acts 3.12-19
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;

he leads me beside still waters;

he restores my soul.

He leads me in right paths

for his name’s sake.

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.

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD

my whole life long.]

HYMN Now the green blade riseth NEH 115 Noel Nouvelet

1 Now the green blade riseth, 

from the buried grain,

Wheat that in dark earth 

many days has lain;

Love lives again, 

that with the dead has been:

Love is come again like 

wheat that springeth green.

2 In the grave they laid Him, 

Love who had been slain,

Thinking that He never would awake again,

Laid in the earth 

like grain that sleeps unseen:

Love is come again like 

wheat that springeth green.

3 Forth He came at Easter, 

like the risen grain,

Jesus who for three days 

in the grave had lain;

Quick from the dead the risen One is seen:

Love is come again like 

wheat that springeth green.

4 When our hearts are wintry, 

grieving, or in pain,

Jesus’ touch can call us back to life again,

Fields of our hearts 

that dead and bare have been:

Love is come again like 

wheat that springeth green.

GOSPEL – John 10.22-30

At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”


“For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”

The image of Shepherd and sheep is a powerful one, it’s comforting and picturesque – it’s not particularly exciting, or, on the face of it, particularly emboldening, and it doesn’t say much for we who are the sheep, but when times are hard it’s nice to know that there is someone else in charge. 

I remember asking my father what he liked about life in the services during the war, he said that he liked the fact he didn’t have anything to worry about. I suppose he meant that didn’t have any decisions to make, that as an aircraftman his job was to go where he was sent, and do what he was told to do. By the same token your standard sheep doesn’t have much to worry about, the shepherd leads it to new pastures, the shepherd finds it water, the shepherd protects it against wild animals, the shepherd takes its burdens and lets it just be – just be a sheep. 

The 23rd Psalm has long been a favourite psalm both for weddings and funerals, it speaks to us as we face the unknown, it confirms that our God is our shepherd, that he will care for us and protect us and keep us from all harm. In the words of a not so old song “Why worry about a thing, for every little thing’s gonna be alright.” The 23rd Psalm is the answer to every worry, every stress, every concern, every anxiety you’ve ever had – it says… relax. 

But we aren’t sheep, we do worry, we worry about our job, we worry about not having a job, we worry about the rise in prices, we worry about the fall in the value of pensions, we worry about our health, we worry about our loved ones, we just worry. 

But if the Lord is our Shepherd who really will make us lie down in green pastures and lead us beside still waters, if he does guide us along right pathways and spread tables before us in the face of our enemies, then there is surely nothing to worry about. 

Except… we just don’t believe it. We know that people go hungry, we know that people are homeless – why not us? As a man on the street once said, “you’re just a pay packet away from where I am” – and we know how fragile good health is. So what’s the point of all this Good Shepherd stuff? Is it just an empty promise, an empty analogy that has no meaning, that brings only false comfort? 

If we leave the 23rd Psalm for a moment, and instead look at Jesus’ words from St John’s Gospel and the image is not so much one of security, the sheep hear the Shepherd’s voice and follow him out of the sheep fold, the sheep do not stay in the security of the fold, they do not stay where it is safe, they cannot, they must live. 

The security Jesus offers is not bound to a safe place, he is not the security of the nursery, or the padded cell, it is the security offered to those who love life, who face its dangers, who suffer its worst and feel its best, and seek abundant life. The security Jesus offers is the security of the crucified and risen shepherd. 

I suppose it’s a question of what we’re looking for. If we’re looking for a safe meal ticket, a talisman against disaster, then I’m not sure we’ve come to the right place. If we’re looking for a better way through life, a better way to live life, then we’ve probably come to the right place. If we’re looking for a context in which to cope with the ups and downs of life, its hurts, its inequalities, then we’ve probably come to the right place. If we’re looking for a companion for our journey and a source of hope that is endless then we’ve probably come to the right place. If we’re looking for a way not to make sense of life but to embrace life, then we have certainly come to the right place. 

In John’s Gospel Jesus claims to be more than the Shepherd, he is also the gate, or the door to the sheepfold.  Jesus says he is the door because he literally is the way in – ‘I am the Way the Truth and the Life – no one comes to the Father but by me’.  

Whatever anyone’s faith, or none, we shall all come to God through Jesus, eventually, because that is his place, that is what he is for – a bridge, a threshold, a crossing place from earth to heaven, from man to God.  As Shepherd he calls, as Shepherd he leads, he calls and leads to the place where he alone is – where the wafer thin divide between time and eternity breaks down into nothing, and the hope becomes possession.

Jesus as the Shepherd of his people, is all about resurrection, all about Easter because its all about following in the way that leads to abundant life – leads to resurrection, now and in the world to come.

Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the scriptures;
he was buried; he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles: this we have received,
and this we believe.  Amen.
1 Corinthians 15.3-7

HYMN The king of love my shepherd is  NEH 457 AMR 197- Dominus regit me 

1 THE King of love my Shepherd is,

Whose goodness faileth never;

I nothing lack if I am his

And he is mine for ever.

2 Where streams of living water flow

My ransomed soul he leadeth,

And where the verdant pastures grow

With food celestial feedeth.

3 Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,

But yet in love he sought me,

And on his shoulder gently laid,

And home, rejoicing, brought me.

4 In death’s dark vale I fear no ill

With thee, dear Lord, beside me;

Thy rod and staff my comfort still,

Thy cross before to guide me.

5 Thou spread’st a table in my sight;

Thy unction, grace bestoweth:

And O what transport of delight

From thy pure chalice floweth!

6 And so through all the length of days

Thy goodness faileth never;

Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise

Within thy house for ever.


Dear Lord, in our humble faith we bring to you our thanks, our concerns and fears, knowing that we are safe in your hands and you, Lord, are in the midst. 

We thank you Lord for every Christian soul the world over celebrating the festival of Easter where resurrection lies at the heart of our faith. We pray for all bishops, ministers and missionaries as they serve all your people and we pray for all Christians who are suffering because of their trust in you. We pray for this Diocese, this benefice and each of our churches, and for William and the pastoral care that he gives us all.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Through the resurrection love has overcome evil and we pray for your world especially in places where hatred and cruelty, injustice and violence appear to have the upper hand.  We pray for all nations where war is raging, and the people of Ukraine are on our hearts.  We ask you to be close to all refugees and people living in fear, in bunkers underground or in a foreign land, for all those who have lost everything they hold dear, and we pray for the children.  We know that the future lies in your hands and we trust that love will overcome.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our families and friends both near and far away, for many who have no family support, for all who are lonely, afraid, or at their wits end. Keep us aware of those around us and remind us that we all have a part to play in the community that we enjoy here.   We pray for those couples married here this weekend, may they remember their day and the vows they have made, and  continue with the same hope and commitment through the years.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We  bring to mind  all those who are sick,  sad and those who are grieving, remembering especially the family of Hilary Venn whose funeral was on Friday. Lord, You are there, in the midst.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We remember those who have died, recently, or whose anniversaries fall at this time. In the sure hope of the resurrection we rejoice with all the saints that those we have loved now rest with you in glory.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

So Lord  we will walk from this place  into a new week, with confidence and trust in you, and in your Son, Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit ,

Merciful Father, 

accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

May Christ, who out of defeat
brings new hope and a new future,
fill you with his new life.
And the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen

HYMN Come ye faithful raise the anthem NEH 351 AMR 222 – Neander

1 Come, ye faithful, raise the anthem,

Cleave the skies with shouts of praise;

Sing to him who found the ransom,

Ancient of eternal days,

God eternal, Word incarnate,

Whom the heaven of heaven obeys.

2 Ere he raised the lofty mountains,

Formed the sea, or built the sky,

Love eternal, free, and boundless,

Forced the Lord of life to die,

Lifted up the Prince of princes

On the throne of Calvary.

3 Now on those eternal mountains

Stands the sapphire throne, all bright,

With the ceaseless alleluias

Which they raise, the sons of light;

Sion’s people tell his praises,

Victor after hard-won fight.

4 Bring your harps, and bring your incense,

Sweep the string and pour the lay;

Let the earth proclaim his wonders,

King of that celestial day;

He the Lamb once slain is worthy,

Who was dead, and lives for ay.

5 Laud and honour to the Father,

Laud and honour to the Son,

Laud and honour to the Spirit,

Ever Three and ever One,

One in love, and One in splendour,

While unending ages run. Amen.

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