April 30, 2023

Worship Resources for 
the Center for Faith and Giving

Fourth Sunday of Easter 

Acts 2:42-47
Psalm 23
1 Peter 2:19-25

John 10:1-10

Call to Worship  
(if you have someone who could teach and lead the choral response,
         use CH p. 734, with response 2, and the whole of Psalm 23 for the
         call to worship)

One:  We’re gathered to catch our breath, with God as our shepherd.
Many:  No need to be afraid when God walks by our side.
One:  God’s trusty shepherd’s crook makes us feel secure.
Many:  How glad we are, knowing the Lord’s love chases after us every day! 
One: Come home!  This place is God’s house, and it’s a place for all people.
Many:  For all our lives, we have a place and a shepherd! 
                 (adapted from The Message, Psalm 23)

Opening Prayer  

Caring God, we’re nurtured by you in every place,
but today we give you thanks for this particular place where we gather.
As we worship you, we’re filled with gratitude for your protective embrace.
Encourage us, enable us, and then send us out with confidence,
eager to do your will with our words and our deeds.  AMEN

Moment for Stewardship  

Most of us have little connection to sheep, open pastures, or sheepfolds.  So rather than ask you to think about the Good Shepherd, let me as you to think about the Good Teacher.  Do you know what often happens in a classroom of young students?  

Of course, if you’ve been, or are, an elementary teacher, you know.  If you’re an elementary school child, an engaged parent, or active grand-parent, you know, as well.  What’s the contrast between a classroom with a regular teacher, and that same classroom when the teacher is away?

(tell a short memory of a moment you’ve experienced, or use the following description)

A volunteer in a third grade classroom agreed to be the adult presence when the teacher left to pick up items at the school library.  However, when the students realized their teacher was gone, the volume level of conversation escalated.  Several students got up to get a drink, sharpen a pencil, retrieve something from their cubby…until the room was a loud, chaotic scene!  Not a positive learning environment in that moment!

So, imagine Jesus identifying the difference between a teacher and a volunteer.    
The volunteer finds the classroom descending into mayhem, until the teacher returns.  The teacher flicks the lights, stands in the front, and declares “everyone in your seats NOW!”  
The teacher brings order and a return to a productive classroom.

Jesus, the true teacher (the good shepherd), came so we all may receive what God intends for each one:  abundant life!

In gratitude for the abundant life we receive as followers of Jesus, 
let us offer our gifts!

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Holy God, you’ve provided for us with the wonders of creation, the blessing of community, and the covenant bonds of baptism.  With thanksgiving, we return a portion of what we’ve received.  Please accept these gifts as signs of our love and our desire to spread the Good News to all we encounter.  May we put them to full use as we experience and share “Abundant Life”.  AMEN

Invitation to Communion  

In John’s Gospel, Jesus is identified with a variety of “I AM” statements, including “I am the good shepherd”.  In first century Israel, most people realized sheep knew the voice of their shepherd, who called each animal by name and led them out to green pastures and clean water each day.

We don’t have the opportunity to physically hear Jesus call us by name, but we do have this Table to call us.  All are invited to come to this meal — our opportunity to share in a symbolic feast. 

Here we take, bless, break and give bread, helping us remember Jesus’ body.  Here we share grape juice, helping us remember Jesus’ blood. 

When we eat these emblems, we make them part of our own body.  
Through them, we’re re-connected to the Body of Christ. Two thousand years after Jesus spoke, teaching his followers, we continue to learn as Jesus, the good shepherd/good teacher, is made known to us in this meal. 

Come!  The table is prepared and there is a place for you.