Due to copyright limitations, we are unable to print the words to many of the songs.  However, our musicians have chosen music to fit the scriptures.  We invite you to look up the words in your worship book and ponder them.  If you do not have a worship book, ponder the words of one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have the internet may find the songs on YouTube.

Parts of today’s service are taken from Earth Sunday Service: For the Love of Creation, from the United Church of Canada website:


Why do we expect to be better treated in this world than Jesus was?

– Leonard Ravenhill


While it’s easy to sentimentalize the beloved shepherding images of today’s readings, they emerge from an economic reality. For ancient Israelites, sheep were their life force: they provided wool, milk, meat, and currency. Sheep symbolized every divine blessing and demonstrated the interconnectedness of all creation. Still today, we humans, as part of creation, depend on other animals and the land for our livelihood just as we depend on the other members of our “flock”—our human siblings—to guide us and care for us. On this day before Earth Day, this image of the sheep and shepherd challenges our modern individualism and inspires recognition of ecological interconnectedness—of humanity together with the animals, the land, each other, and God.


We acknowledge we gather and worship on Treaty 1 Territory, the original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Anishininew, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.

We come before you this morning with our hearts full of love and concern for our community.   In Christ, we know that we are forgiven. In Jesus, we are a new creation, called to love each other as you love us, and called to act as God’s ambassadors of love and of reconciliation.  We ask you, Beloved, to pour out your Spirit upon us, upon our neighbours, upon our leaders, and upon those who have come to this place with hearts and minds eager to help. We lift up our prayers to you and look to receive your blessing.  Amen.


God of change, we want to be transformed:  Where there is forgetfulness about the earth,
may we be a remembrance of your love for the earth.
Where there is unawareness of relationship with the earth,
let us remind people, we are the earth.
Where there is only talk about private property,
may we remind folks that the earth belongs to you.
Where there is a sense of ownership, when we think we own the earth,
let us say out loud that we belong to the earth.

When we only talk and preach and pray about humans,
let us pray with animals and plants, trees and rivers and mountains.
Where there is only talk about heaven,
let us speak about the earth hurting right now.
Where there is a spirituality of words only,
may we touch the ground, lean on a tree, hold a plant, touch the water, breathe a long breath. and listen to the birds.  Amen.

—Adapted from Cláudio Carvalhaes, “Lenten Journey with the Earth through the Stations of the Cross” (Lent 2021 blog),

GATHERING SONG:  More Voices 126  Are You A Shepherd?


As we gather, we are thankful for your Creation:  for light and darkness; for air, wind, and sky; for earth and sea; for seeds, harvests, and plant life; for sunlight, moonlight, and starlight; for every living creature, swarming, flying, creeping, and grazing; for our lives.  In our actions, meditations, and prayers, may we honour and celebrate your very good Creation, as we seek wisdom on how to share our gratitude and love in good and healing ways.  Amen.

Written by Alydia Smith. From Alydia Smith, ed., Act/Fast: Spiritual Practices for a Climate in Crisis (Toronto: United Church Publishing House, 2023), p. 127.


Pretend you have laryngitis.  You can’t speak at all.  Still, you want to let people know you love them.  How do you do that when you can’t say the words?!  Think of some creative ways to show people you love them, without using your voice.  See how many you can list, and then try them out!  Good luck!



When communities are hit by disaster, such as an earthquake or tsunami, our response starts by meeting immediate needs, including food, clean water, shelter, and hygiene supplies. Your support also gives families the tools and supplies they need to begin rebuilding their lives and establishing sources of income.


Your support also allows us to respond when communities are affected by violence and families are forced to flee. CLWR provides emergency support to refugees and internally displaced people to ensure their immediate needs are met and support them as they adjust to their new circumstances.  Food assistance helps families meet their food and nutrition needs and cash assistance helps families cover expenses such as rent and healthcare. The construction of shelters and latrines keeps people safe and healthy, and job training provides new ways of earning an income so people can support themselves and their families.

All of our work puts special focus on the extra challenges women and girls deal with. In the face of a disaster or conflict, that means things like extra emphasis on supporting female-headed households, and providing protection from sexual and gender-based violence, including safehouses, counselling and prevention efforts.


CLWR is a proud member of the Humanitarian Coalition, a partnership of leading Canadian aid agencies that coordinate life-saving efforts in response to major disasters.

We’re also proud to respond to emergencies as part of ACT Alliance, a coalition of faith-based organizations in over 120 countries. Through ACT Alliance, CLWR can respond effectively and immediately by working through organizations that are already part of the communities affected by a disaster.


God, whom we know through the scriptures and creation, speak to us in this hour. Show us the wisdom and joy of your ways that we may know what is good and do what is right, through Jesus Christ your Word. Amen.


First Reading: Acts 4:5-12

Peter and John had been arrested the previous day because they were proclaiming the news of the resurrection to the people. In today’s reading, Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit so that he can proclaim salvation in Jesus’ name to the religious authorities.

5The next day  rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, 6with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. 11This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’
12There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. (Ps. 23:1)

1The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
2The Lord makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.
3You restore my soul, O Lord, and guide me along right pathways for your name’s sake.
4Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil;
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. R
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil, and my cup

is running over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house

       of the Lord forever. R

Second Reading: 1 John 3:16-24

Jesus’ death on our behalf is the clearest demonstration of divine love. This is the very love we share with others, not just through our words but especially through our deeds. In sharing such love, we fulfill God’s commandments.

16We know love by this, that  laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 17How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?

18Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. 19And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him 20whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; 22and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.

23And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.

Gospel: John 10:11-18

In language that recalls the twenty-third psalm, Jesus describes himself as the shepherd who cares for his sheep. He is willing to die for them, and he is able to overcome death for them.

 11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

HYMN:   Voices United 670  Precious Lord, Take My Hand

SERMON:  By Rev. Scott Hoezee[1]

Today we don’t have shepherds much in the wider society.  Today we have managers.  But shepherds and managers are not the same.

Whenever Jesus uses the pastoral image of a shepherd for himself, the point is nearly always the same: as the good shepherd of his sheep, he will risk his life and even temporarily abandon the flock if that’s what it takes to save the one lost sheep.  As the true shepherd who loves his sheep, he will let himself be killed rather than see one single sheep harmed.  In every image of the flock which Jesus employs, it is always clear that as important as the whole flock is, each individual sheep is as important to him as is the larger collective.

But many folks today don’t think that way at all.  Instead we hear about giant corporations that do cost-benefit analyses for their products.  They calculate how much risk they can get away with in an effort to pad the bottom line by not having to lay out any extra money for additional safeguards or further costly research & development.

So food companies have been known to let certain products hit the market despite their knowing right up front that there is a slight risk that certain people could well get sick from this food and maybe even die.  But if the percentage of people at risk for that is small enough as to be statistically insignificant, then they forge ahead.  Politicians often live by polls and so base some pretty big decisions on projected outcomes.  Even if some people may be disadvantaged by this or that program cut, if the majority will benefit (and so vote the right way once again at the next election), then those who will be harmed are back-handed aside as statistically irrelevant.

Ours is a world that looks to see how much it can get away with.  Ours is a society where the majority rules and the minority had best just learn to live with it.

But not so with Jesus as the good shepherd.  A cost-benefit analysis would never cause the shepherd to leave the 99 sheep on their own for a few minutes in favor of finding the one lost lamb.  If the shepherd had a risk-management committee, they would never advise him to let the wolf kill the shepherd but would say you could better survive to fight another day even if for the time being the wolf nabbed a sheep or two.

In other words, ours is a world and a society made up of hired hands with very few true shepherds around anymore.  We manage risks and outcomes but don’t put our lives on the line to avoid all bad outcomes.

But then, perhaps it’s for that very reason that we could all use a truly Good Shepherd in our lives.  Now, maybe, more than ever.

As someone once put it, “God counts by ones.”

HYMN OF THE MONTH:  Voices United 563  Jesus, You Have Come To The Lakeshore


Rejoicing that Jesus is risen and love has triumphed over fear, let us pray for the church, the world, and all those in need of good news.

Shepherding God, gather your church whenever we wander from you and one another. Empower our church in ministries around the world to worship and serve alongside global companions as equal partners and coworkers in the gospel. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Nurturing God, preserve the health of biomes and ecosystems. Inspire scientists, researchers, conservation organizations, and all people entrusted with the task of caring for creation, that we may be better stewards of the world around us. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Almighty God, lead nations and communities to share resources, cooperate in solving conflicts, and listen to the wisdom of Indigenous peoples. Help all those with power to share it and to use such power for good. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Loving God, protect the very young and the very old, those living without housing, victims of domestic abuse, and all who live with chronic illness or compromised immune systems. Guide communities to actively care for people who are vulnerable. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Gracious God, help this and all communities of faith to listen for your voice. Call us away from things that distract us from following you. Invite us to more deeply love and serve people who are lonely, isolated, and on the margins. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Living God, we give thanks for our ancestors in faith. Strengthen us to share the good news in our own day. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Into your hands, most merciful God, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your abiding love; through Jesus Christ, our resurrected and living Lord.



SENDING SONG:  Voices United 684  Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace


Go and act, for the care of creation.  Go and learn, for the sake of creation.  Go and pray, for the love of creation.  And may the care of God enfold you, the passion of the Risen Christ embolden you, and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit empower you, now and forever.  Amen.

Written by Alydia Smith. From Alydia Smith, ed., Act/Fast: Spiritual Practices for a Climate in Crisis (Toronto: United Church Publishing House, 2023), p. 125.


Copyright © 2016 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #SAS011617.
© 2011 The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit: