April 30, 2023 - 4th Sunday of Easter

For the week of April 30 to May 6 – 4th Sunday of Easter

Morning Prayer Healing God, In the midst of our busy lives and the stresses, burdens, and challenges we face day in and day out, we forget about the silent wounds that we carry from our lack of connection to one another. Heal us, God, from disconnection and isolation. Bind us together and build in us a community of support and encouragement. Help us be for one another the Body of Christ, tending one another as we are tended by You. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn #474 Precious Lord Take My Hand

  1. Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand,

I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;

Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light:

Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

  1. When my way grows drear, precious Lord, linger near,

When my life is almost gone,

Hear my cry, hear my call, hold my hand, lest I fall:

Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

  1. When the darkness appears and the night draws near,

And the day is past and gone,

At the river I stand, guide my feet, hold my hand:

Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will 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 runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. (NKJV)

Children’s Time Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Children’s Message 

These verses give us the basic how-to of the early church. It’s how they did life together and life in the community.

  1.  They met together.
  2. They ate together.
  3. They prayed together.
  4. They cared for each other.
  5. They praised God together.

By living this way, it got the attention of others in the community. The early church was liked, trusted, and appreciated. Because of this living, others wanted to know about Jesus and join in living in the same way. It created goodwill, that sense of being cared for and loved.

This is how we are to live today as well. How we live our lives with each other as a church and how we live our lives in community reflect what we believe about Jesus and His message. We may not always be perfect at it, but it should be our goal: our lives are our witness. Think about some ways we can live our lives so others know we love Jesus.

Prayers of Intercession:  Thank You, Lord, for hearing our prayers for those dear to our hearts.  We now pray as You have taught us: Our Father, who 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 us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us, not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen. 

Offering spotlight: A portion of Missions funds support the Women’s Center, Inc. of Columbia and Montour Counties.  Our donations help better serve the victims and children of the crime of physical and mental abuse, and give victims strength and courage to come forward and raise much needed awareness.

Offering prayer: Caring and compassionate God, we feel like we have been through so much. Battered by division, perceived by some as too judgmental and by others as too accommodating, and we know our witness to the world has suffered. Bless the gifts we give and help them to be used to sow seeds of kindness, healing, hope, and justice. When we as a church falter, remind us that Christ, our Good Shepherd, never falters. In Christ, we pray. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn #136 The Lord’s My Shepherd

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale, yet will I fear no ill;

For Thou art with me, and Thy rod and staff me comfort still.

  1. My table Thou hast furnished in presence of me foes;

My head Thou dost with oil anoint, and my cup overflows.

  1. Goodness and mercy all my life shall surely follow me;

And in God’s house forevermore my dwelling place shall be.

Scripture John 10:1-10

“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.

Message               Pastor Becky Cuddeback

The 4th Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. We traditionally look at Psalm 23 and the 10th chapter of John. These are verses we are familiar and comfortable hearing. The 23rd Psalm is probably the most recognized verses of scripture with John 3:16 following closely.

The words are soothing, they speak of care and concern for us. They give us a glimpse of the abundant life Jesus speaks of. If words could hug us, these would be the words we turn to in times of need. They hold us and sustain us. They remind of our worth, our destiny, and they name what we need: a shepherd and the Lord is just that to us.

Jesus is the shepherd and He is the gate. When it comes to the care of the flock, it is all about Jesus and supported by Jesus for Jesus. The gate, the shepherd and the voice we are to follow is Jesus and this leads us to life, abundant life, life everlasting and the day to day earthly life we have been given. It is the life described in the 23rd Psalm.

Yet, we are the ones to have to enter the gate. We can’t find a work around or try to slip past without encountering Jesus. We can’t find another way into Jesus’ care; we can only enter by way of the gate. The beauty of the gate is that it is Jesus. It isn’t some fortified structure, it isn’t locked and it certainly doesn’t come with qualifiers. It is the open embrace of Jesus.

Yet, still we must go through the gate. We aren’t called to hang out near the gate or just follow the others that have gone through the gate. We don’t gain relationship by proximity or by knowing the right people; the gate is the only way to be in relationship with Jesus.

We can get fooled sometimes by thinking we are in a relationship because Jesus’s voice seems familiar to us. We think we have heard it and others who claim to hear are responding, but without a relationship there is no way to be sure. The voice you may be responding to may be saying things similar to Jesus, but not exactly and the only way to know is if you have gone through the gate to a relationship. The relationship is the vital filter for the voices we respond to and the claim on us can ebb and flow if we are not listening to the distinctive voice of Jesus. Jesus’s voice has weight and urgency for the care of God’s creation. It is the voice that leads us to love our neighbor and love ourselves. Without yielding to the gate, we are still on the outside looking in and distressing over exclusion. This is the hazard of being outside and not going through the gate.

We have to decide to have this relationship with Jesus. Once we come to Jesus, we follow where He leads us. We are then secure in knowing that nothing can separate us from God’s love. There is nowhere we can go that Jesus will not be present. There is no hardship or suffering that Jesus will not suffer with us. All because we went through the gate into relationship with Jesus.

Hymn: #133 Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

  1. What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms;
    what a blessedness, what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Refrain: Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

  1. O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way, leaning on the everlasting arms;
    O how bright the path grows from day to day, leaning on the everlasting arms.
  2. What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms?
    I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Go into your week with the blessings of The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit.