May 3, 2020 Service



BEFORE WE WORSHIP, WE REFLECT…       A popular misconception is that life after death is the chief theme of the Easter season. However, it was more the impact of Jesus’ resurrection upon the here and now which made Easter such a unique event. The central message of Easter is that God’s Reign has begun in a new and unexpected way and that eternal life can be fully lived now!         In today’s passages we see the early church struggling as they begin to recognize that Christ’s return has been delayed. What does it mean for them to be faithful in these unexpected circumstances? After nearly two thousand years of Christianity, the church is still asking the question “Now what?” How are we to exercise our worldly power and use our earthly resources? Were the early Christians in Jerusalem mistaken in their radical response or did they have the right idea? Is it right that money be held in endowment funds so that we can maintain our church buildings while the ranks of the poor and homeless increase in our world? Is this the “way”? How can we live out the vision of God’s realm in our own day?   Alleluia! Christ is risen!  Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!  

Call to Worship

Lord Jesus, breathe on me; give me strength today. Holy Spirit, work in me. For this I pray. God is our shepherd, who loves us and cares for us. We are like sheep who have wandered from the path. Yet God looks for us when we are lost, and invites us back home. Let us worship our loving God. Lord Jesus, breathe on me; give me strength today. Holy Spirit, work in me. For this I pray.  


Loving Shepherd, you have called us to be a holy community, to celebrate your presence, to look out for one another, to share what we have, and to be your people. Remind us of this when we forget, and encourage us always to be the people you call us to be. Amen.  


We share what you have given us, O God. As you have called us into this community, so we work together to care for your world and to share the good news of your love with others. Inspire us with your word, so that, in turn, we may inspire others.  In your name we pray.  Amen.

Readings and Psalm

Acts 2:42-47 Today’s reading is a description of life in the community following Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit was poured out on God’s people. The new community is sustained in worship and fellowship, shares what they have, and ensures that everyone has enough. Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. (Ps. 23:1)

1 Peter 2:19-25

Doing the right things does not guarantee that one will not experience difficulties, hardships, rejection, or even suffering. Here Christ is presented as the model for our path of endurance and loyalty to God, particularly amid adversity. Gospel: John 10:1-10 Jesus uses an image familiar to the people of his day to make a point about spiritual leadership. Those who listen to Jesus are led to abundant life.


Seems simple enough.  Jesus is the gate/shepherd and we are the sheep.  What I want to know is…is being a sheep a compliment?  What do you know about sheep?  What sayings about sheep have you heard in your life?  If they are the same as mine, being considered a sheep is not a compliment.   This gospel situation is taking place in Palestine, over 2,000 years ago.  Sheep were a big deal then.  Certain breeds were favoured over others for their larger fat content.  Things are looking up for me being a sheep!   In all seriousness, sheep were a big deal in the middle east in antiquity because sheep could find grass to graze in the most unlikely places.  They were bred for their meat, wool and milk.  Fertile land was used for grain farming.  The rough terrain with its spotty growths of grasses were used for grazing.  The beauty of sheep was that they did not need the best pasture in order to fill their bellies.  They were a secure source of income, woolen goods and cheese.   Being a conscientious pastor, I researched as much as I could about sheep and shepherding.  The more I read, the more I understood why Jesus used the analogy of himself as the gate/shepherd and we humans as the sheep.  Here are some facts about sheep.  See if you recognize yourself – or your neighbour – in any of them:  

Sheep are social animals, so try and prevent seclusion.

Sheep by nature are followers; let them follow and don’t drive them as you would cattle.

Sheep are docile animals by nature.

Sheep have good memories; these memories need to be positive ones as much as possible. Sheep react to their surroundings, this includes the working environment and facilities

Sheep like routine, so be patient when introducing something new.

Sheep reactions are predictable, so use them.

Sheep react negatively to loud noises and yelling.

Sheep will bunch up in corners to protect themselves.

When moving, gathering or sorting sheep, the more efficient the operation the better; wool grabbing and rough handling will cause bruising.

Sheep tend to move in the opposite direction of the handler.

Sheep have a flight zone, determine what this is for your flock.

Sheep move best when not afraid, so work slowly and calmly.

Sheep do not like to move into the darkness

Sheep move better on a flat surface or uphill.

Sheep resist moving from one type of surface to another.

Sheep have no depth perception, so shadows, dark surfaces and water are an issue.

Sheep fear new visual objects. Sheep and other farm animals have a well-developed sense of hearing. They capture a wider frequency of sound than is audible to our ears. Thus, it is important while feeding and caring for the animals that you talk to them in a calm, reassuring voice. When they sense that you mean no harm, they will turn to their usual business of eating, drinking and feeding their young.

  Something else I learned from all my research…that whole “my sheep know my voice” statement is true with sheep.  AND, do you know WHY that is?  It is because the shepherd uses food as a motivator/reward so that the sheep associate the shepherd with the positive element of food.  To get the flock moving, a shepherd will often shake a can of grain to motivate the motion.  However, the shepherd must eventually feed the flock, or those smart sheep stop following.  Over time, it is possible to create a bond that does not require food.  Such a bond takes a LOT of patience.   Now, think of all the times where Jesus used food to connect with his disciples and others.  Think of the feeding of the thousands and then remember they followed Jesus around the lake because they wanted more food.   The wedding at Cana; Jesus saves the day by creating the best wine ever!   Jesus was called a glutton and a drunkard.  There had to be a reason why.   Jesus was criticized for eating with and dipping his fingers in the same water bowl as tax collectors and prostitutes.  Apparently, Jesus didn’t care what others thought because he continued to eat with said people.  Do we know what conversations Jesus had with these folks?  Not a clue.  What was said is not important.  What is important was that the shepherd saw some of his flock isolated from the fold, saw their pain, anxiety and discomfort and through food and his presence embraced them in love and included them in his flock.    Sheep are social creatures.  WE are social creatures.  Enter in this co-vid 19 virus and suddenly we better understand how much like sheep we really are!  Yes, we can watch videos of worship services online, read our own worship services and my sermons on the church website, turn on the radio and sing with a Christian program AND we all know that deep down, we are all hurting and feeling isolated and maybe feeling a bit panicky because we are social creatures, we are Christians who are used to worshiping together, sharing a pew, communing together, giving each other hugs, experiencing the presence of Christ is a very real way together and this self-isolation away from our flock is wearing us down in body, mind and soul!  Indeed, Jesus, we are sheep.  We are YOUR sheep.  We need light and we need a gate and a place to feel safe.  We need to hear your voice, Jesus.  That calm, quiet, soothing voice that reminds us that even though we are by ourselves, we are not alone.   Jesus, the gate and the shepherd, does speak to us – through each other.  We are being creative, our little flock, and we are realizing that going for a walk and waving at another sheep as they stand in their window, brings a smile and a lightness of heart.  We are calling one another to make sure the individual sheep in the flock are healthy, know they are loved and thought of; we are facetiming and sharing jokes online so that we all can laugh and know that there is still a reason to smile, that God is good, and together we will, as a flock, get through this pandemic.    Jesus is the shepherd who feeds us and leads us through the gate into a place of unconditional love.  Unconditional love gives strength to the body, mind and soul.  Unconditional love reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  Unconditional love holds on to hope and dares to dream.  Unconditional love prays without ceasing, sings without music, dances without a drummer and invites others into the fold.   Yes, we are sheep.  We are Jesus’ sheep.  We are loved, cared for, led to green pastures, clear water and community.  With the calm, gentle voice of Christ, we will continue to pray for each other, wave at others, phone each other, share jokes, leave baked goods on the doorstep and focus on what we have.  We are social creatures.  We are a flock.  We stick together and place our trust in the shepherd.  Amen.  


Uplifted by the promised hope of healing and resurrection, we join the people of God in all times and places in praying for the church, the world, and all who are in need.   Shepherding God, we thank you for the educational ministries of your church. Enrich the work of teachers, professors, mentors, advisors, and faculty at colleges, seminaries, and learning sites Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Creating God, we praise you for those who maintain and operate farm equipment, for those who plant and harvest crops, for local farmers’ markets, and for those involved in agriculture of any kind. Strengthen their hands as they feed the world. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Guiding God, no one should be in want. Bid the nations to return to your paths of righteousness and inspire our leaders to walk in your ways, so that all may have the opportunity to live abundantly and sustainably. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Comforting God, you carry us tenderly. We pray for those who walk through dark valleys overshadowed by anxiety and overwhelmed with suffering.  We pray for all those affected by the shootings in Nova Scotia and for victims of violence everywhere.  Help us heal from long ago emotional pain so that we do not take out our pain on others.  We pray for all the front-line and essential workers of this pandemic and for their families.  Give them strength, courage and a renewed sense of purpose in a medical situation that seems unending.  We bring before you our family members, friends and community members who are in need of your peace and healing hand at this time:  Mike Froese; Brooke Alexiuk; Abbie; Tracy Skoglund; Carolyn & Douglas; Don; Amber; Nicole; Gordon Dreger; Scott Brown; Diane Dreger; the family of Lottie Siemens; Elizabeth & David.  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Nurturing God, you desire justice for the hungry. Bless advocacy work, food pantries, and feeding ministries in our congregations. May none of our neighbours lack for basic needs. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Everlasting God, your beloved have heard your voice; you have called them by name and guided them to your side in death. We thank you for their lives of faithful witness. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. With bold confidence in your love, almighty God, we place all for whom we pray into your eternal care; through Christ our Lord. Amen.  




May the One who brought forth Jesus from the dead raise you to new life, fill you with hope, and turn your mourning into dancing. May the blessing of God – Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of all life – be with us now, and always. Amen.    

Our gifts for Mission & Service support overseas personnel and work with global partners.

  As we begin Asian Heritage Month, we look back to one of our past overseas personnel, Caroline Macdonald (1874–1931), a missionary to Japan. Born in Wingham, Ontario, she graduated from the University of Toronto in math and physics. She became the first National Secretary of Japan’s YWCA in 1904 and worked to establish hostels for girls in Tokyo. Caroline studied theology in Aberdeen, Scotland, from 1910 to 1911, and after 1913 she became deeply involved in work with prisoners and their families. She was sent to Japan thanks to the support of the Overseas Mission Board, a precursor to Mission & Service. Her prison reforms live on today in Japan. Her strong sense of prison reform led her to strike up a friendship with Ishii Tokichi, who was sentenced to death for murder. Caroline wrote the preface for his book, A Gentleman in Prison (1922), from which this excerpt is taken: During the days of waiting he took up his pen to write down the circumstances which led him into crime, and the story of his repentance. He worked night and day until his task was finished, for he did not know when the end might come. I saw him for the last time just a few days before his execution and his face was radiant; but of that day and of the end I shall write when the man has told his own story. The sequel is merely the translation of the manuscript I received from him through the prison authorities, and is reproduced, as far as possible, with the same straightforward simplicity as the original. I have not hesitated to depart on occasions from the literal translation, but I think I have not departed from the spirit. If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you so much! If you have not given, please join me in making Mission & Service giving a regular part of your life of faith. Loving our neighbour is at the heart of our Mission & Service.      

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