St. Mary's Church

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Fourth Sunday of Easter

2 May 2020 • General news

Readings:

Acts 2:42-47

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Life among the Believers

43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds[a] to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home[b] and ate their food with glad and generous[c] hearts, 47 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.


1 Peter 2. 19-end

19 For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. 20 If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.

22 “He committed no sin,

and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

23 When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross,[a] so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds[b] you have been healed. 25 For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.


John 10. 1-10

Jesus the Good Shepherd

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. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

7 So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Reflection for 3 May 2020, 4th Sunday of Easter

Our gospel reading today is John, chapter 10, verses 1 to 10. It ends with the words:

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

In saying that, Jesus gives us the most heart-warming part of the whole Christian message. He has not just come to promise us life, but abundant life.

It’s easy to forget that at the moment. Life under lockdown, life perhaps coloured by uncertainty or even fear for the future, doesn’t feel very abundant. But I was buoyed up in the last few weeks by the story of Connie Titchen, who went into hospital suffering from Covid-19 and pneumonia, and fought off both to come out alive; all at the age of 106. Connie Titchen has managed to live through two world wars and the Spanish flu pandemic of 1919 which killed at least 17 million people worldwide, and now as a centenarian has beaten this pandemic, too. She came out of hospital with not only her health but her good humour intact.

And there, I think, is the key to what it means to live life abundantly. It doesn’t mean to live longer, or to be more healthy – each of us gets the same as everybody else, one lifetime. No, to live life abundantly means, I think, to grasp that one lifetime and make the most of it, to do everything you can with whatever you have and to remember that the current situation will not beat us. The human race has come through disaster and pandemic, through war, and flood, and disease, and we are still here, still holding on to the abundant life Jesus promised us. The Black Death did not beat us. Spanish flu didn’t beat us. Bird flu did not beat us. Swine flu did not beat us. Politics doesn’t beat us. Crime doesn’t beat us. We are hardy, and we are beloved of God, and we are promised abundant life, by a God who does not break promises – even if he does not always fulfil them in predictable ways.

When I spoke to you on Maundy Thursday, I spoke about the necessity of holding on to hope. Hope for the future; hope that there is an end to all this; hope that we can turn our situation around; hope that we can support each other even in the darkest times; hope that we can find our common humanity; hope that we can care for the least and the lowest; hope, above all in the promises of God, given to us by and through Jesus.

That’s abundant living.

AMEN

Prayers for Sunday 3rd May 2020.

“In the Power of the Spirit, and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.

Lord, we know that you hear the words of all those who pray to you in faith.

Lord, we pray for our community of St Mary’s,

dispersed but held together in your love.

We hold in prayer Malcolm and Dmitry, our church wardens Barbara and John,

Our Readers Tony, Trevor, Stephen and Lorraine and our pastoral team.

We pray for all our congregation and also for all those who would normally gather at St Mary’s for Butterflies, Brownies, Guides, coffee club and our Thursday lunch and other activities.

LORD in your mercy – hear our prayer

We pray for those Christians in other part of our world

who suffer hate, arrest, imprisonment and even death for what they believe in.

We pray for those across the world whose lives and rights are sacrificed

in the name of power and greed.

We pray for our government and for our local MPs and those who lead our city council,

We ask for wisdom in governance at this time.

LORD in your mercy – hear our prayer

We pray for those who work to feed and shelter and educate

the poor of our world, especially thinking of food banks and those working with the homeless of our city.

We pray for those who care for the victims of our society,

those unable to cope with life, the neglected, the abused.

We pray for those who risk themselves, especially those working in the healthcare service

Who care for and accompany others in their illness and sometimes through the shadow of death.

We pray for those we know are struggling or in any kind of need at this time.

LORD in your mercy – hear our prayer

We call to mind those who have died, and their friends and family in the grief.

Give them peace in their hearts LORD we pray.

We pray for ourselves, that we might hear the call of Christ

and follow his way of love.

Lord, we ask for courage in the circumstances we find ourselves in.

That we may know your strength and love in all our trials and our joys.

AMEN

In the power of the spirit and in union with Christ we pray to the Father

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.