Service – Sunday 3rd May

Gavotte by Samuel Sebastian Wesley
Click here to play the music

Call to Worship:
Come, walk in green pastures.
     We follow the Shepherd.
Come, lie down in green pastures.
     We trust the Shepherd.
Come, dine at the table of abundance.
    We are fed by the Shepherd.
Come, dwell in God’s house.
    We live in the Shepherd’s care.

StF 238 – Hymn – Lead us, Heavenly Father, lead us
Click here to play the music (includes introduction)

Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us
o’er the world’s tempestuous sea;
guard us, guide us, keep us, feed us,
for we have no help but thee,
yet possessing every blessing
if our God our Father be.

Saviour, breathe forgiveness o’er us;
all our weakness thou dost know,
thou didst tread this earth before us,
thou didst feel its keenest woe;
tempted, taunted, yet undaunted,
through the desert thou didst go.

Spirit of our God, descending,
fill our hearts with heavenly joy,
love with every passion blending,
pleasure that can never cloy;
thus provided, pardoned, guided,
nothing can our peace destroy.

James Edmeston (1791-1867)
Horatius N. Bonar (1808-1889)

Let us pray together:
We give glory to God, the creator of heaven and earth,
who has made all things living.
We give glory to God, who is the Father of all mercies,
who sent his only-begotten son to be our Redeemer.
We give glory to God, fire of holy love,
Who in for love for us has poured out his life-giving Spirit upon us all.

Lord Jesus,
Good Shepherd of the sheep,
by whom the lost are sought
and guided into the fold:
feed us and we shall be satisfied;
heal us and we shall be made whole’
and lead us, that we may be with you;
for you are alive and reign,
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
Amen.

Prayer of Confession
Good Shepherd,
we take your care for granted.
In the midst of your many blessings,
we complain of not having enough.
In the presence of danger,
we fail to trust your abiding love.
When you set a table before us,
we turn aside from you.
Call us back into your care
and help us trust your caring presence,
that our actions may proclaim your truth.
Amen.

Words of Assurance
God’s goodness and mercy follows us
all the days of our lives.
God forgives us and calls us back
into the fold.

The Lord’s Prayer
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.
Save us from the time of trial
And deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
Now and for ever.
Amen.

Reading: John 10 v1 to 10

StF 481 – Hymn – The Lord’s my Shepherd (Townend)
from a recording of Stuart Townend live.
Click here to play the music (includes introduction)

The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want;
he makes me lie in pastures green,
he leads me by the still, still waters,
his goodness restores my soul.
And I will trust in you alone,
and I will trust in you alone,
for your endless mercy follows me,
your goodness will lead me home.

He guides my ways in righteousness,
and he anoints my head with oil;
and my cup — it overflows with joy,
I feast on his pure delights.
And I will trust in you alone,
and I will trust in you alone,
for your endless mercy follows me,
your goodness will lead me home.

And though I walk the darkest path —
I will not fear the evil one,
for you are with me, and your rod and staff
are the comfort I need to know.
And I will trust in you alone,
and I will trust in you alone,
for your endless mercy follows me,
your goodness will lead me home.

Stuart Townend (b. 1963)

Address:

Click here to listen to the Address presented by Rev Mark Barrett

There are so many voices that swarm around us that try to tell us how to live in almost every aspect of our lives. Those voices can sometimes almost drown out the voice we should be listening to, that of Jesus.

There are life style voices. The list is almost endless, Influencers, Vloggers, Bloggers, Social commentators, Fitness trainers, Diet nutritionists, Style gurus, Futurists, Celebs.

Each have THE answer and our lives would be so much better if we just listened to them, or signed up and followed them.

There are the voices we hear in society such as advertisers, politicians, those in the media, those who peddle fake news, and those on social media that are voices with no responsibility.

Again, each has something to sell us, to offer us, if we follow them it will all be better and so will we.

There are voices in religious set ups. Those who from TV, radio, the internet, street corners and pulpits tell us they THEY and they alone speak with the voice of God. Tune in, sign up and donate and surrender to that all-knowing voice.

The common denominator in most of the voices that assail us is that by doing as they say, as they proscribe, as they tell us it is they that benefit in terms of finance or reputation. We may benefit, but that is almost an accidental and if it does not work it is our fault.

When we try to hear the voice of Jesus in our lives, directing our lives and centring our lives we too must be careful. We must test that voice we hear, not because Jesus cannot be trusted, but because we sometimes cannot trust ourselves because we are fallible human beings. We can be easily drawn by our own desires, needs, and concerns.

First of all, the voice of the shepherd is different because we are directed not to ourselves, not to what will benefit us, not to what will satiate us, but to that which benefits and enhances the lives of others.

You may still ask ‘How do we know?’

We need to test the voice. We are used to that in general life for we listen to people we trust, people who have been through what we have, people who have been there with us and for us.

The same is true for our faith as we seek to find the way God in Christ is guiding us so we can more readily recognise the voice of the shepherd.

There is a process that we call the Methodist Quadrilateral. It asks us to approach our faith in this way and test that ‘voice’ against four things:

Scripture – We seek to discover the word of God through reading the Bible. There are different understandings among Methodists about the Bible’s authority in our lives so we also need to use resources like different Bible translations, commentaries and Bible reading notes.

Tradition – This is the wisdom and creativity of Christians over time and across the world. It includes inspirational material like hymns, songs, prayers, poetry, Christian art and devotional books.

Reason – We are called to love God with our minds as well as with our hearts. To the best of our ability we need to think things through in the light of reason. This means becoming aware of different points of view, and using our own critical thinking to make sense of God’s world.

Experience – Methodism particularly stresses the importance of our own experience of God’s grace working in our lives. We gain wisdom and maturity from life experience, especially when we pray and reflect about our story with other Christians.

If we follow this process with others alongside, a reason why we are gathered together, and listen to their view of scripture, their traditions, their thoughts and their experience then we are more easily able to discern the voice of our shepherd.

Once we are able to recognise and discern the voice of the shepherd, then we will be able to recognise and discern the path of discipleship that we are called to so that we may live out our faith amongst and for all God’s people. Amen.

StF 519 – Hymn – Father, I place into your hands
Click here to play the music (includes introduction)

Father, I place into your hands
the things I cannot do.
Father, I place into your hands
the times that I’ve been through.
Father, I place into your hands
the way that I should go,
for I know I always can trust you.

Father, I place into your hands
my friends and family.
Father, I place into your hands
the things that trouble me.
Father, I place into your hands
the person I would be,
for I know I always can trust you.

Father, we love to see your face,
we love to hear your voice.
Father, we love to sing your praise
and in your name rejoice.
Father, we love to walk with you
and in your presence rest,
for we know we always can trust you.

Father, I want to be with you
and do the things you do.
Father, I want to speak the words
that you are speaking too.
Father, I want to love the ones
that you will draw to you,
for I know that I am one with you.

Jenny Hewer (b. 1945)

Intercessions:
click here to listen
You are the good shepherd.
Help us to listen to and follow you
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
Thank you that you give us everything that we need.
Help us to share your good gifts with others, and please provide for those who have little to eat today.
We give thanks for those who are offering help in so many ways to those in need; and pray for those who in their fear acted less generously.
You are the good shepherd.
Help us to listen to and follow you
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Thank you, Lord that you guide us each day.
Thank you that you never leave our side.
Guide the leaders in our country to make wise decisions.
We give thanks for all the ‘key workers’ who have worked tirelessly in medical and care sectors;
Local Authority and community teams; production and distribution;
and pray for those now idle, anxious, and depressed due to the closures.
and comfort those who are going through difficult times.
You are the good shepherd.
We give thanks for positive voices, encouraging and nurturing others in so many ways; and pray for those whose voices bring ‘fake’ advice and false testimony.
Help us to listen to and follow you
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Thank you, Lord that you keep us safe from the evil one.
Thank you that you are the One who heals us.
Bring healing to those who are unwell today, and help them to know your love.
You are the good shepherd.
Help us to listen to and follow you
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Thank you, Lord that you never stop loving us.
Thank you that we can look forward to being with you forever.
Strengthen your church that we might show your love to those around us, and keep our eyes fixed on you.
You are the good shepherd.
Help us to listen to and follow you.
Amen.

StF 661 – Hymn – Give me the faith which can remove
Click here to play the music (includes introduction)
Give me the faith which can remove
and sink the mountain to a plain;
give me the childlike praying love,
which longs to build thy house again;
thy love, let it my heart o’erpower,
and all my simple soul devour.

I would the precious time redeem,
and longer live for this alone:
to spend, and to be spent, for them
who have not yet my Saviour known;
fully on these my mission prove,
and only breathe, to breathe thy love.

My talents, gifts, and graces, Lord,
into thy blessed hands receive;
and let me live to preach thy word,
and let me to thy glory live;
my every sacred moment spend
in publishing the sinners’ friend.

Enlarge, inflame, and fill my heart
with boundless charity divine:
so shall I all my strength exert,
and love them with a zeal like thine;
and lead them to thy open side,
the sheep for whom their Shepherd died.

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

A prayer of blessing
May Christ the good shepherd,
Draw us and all who hear his voice,
To be one flock within one fold,
And the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son
and the Holy Spirit
be among us and
remain with us always.
Amen.

Grand Triumphal Chorus by Alexander Guilmant
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