Dunsford United Church Bulletin – April 25, 2021

Pulpit Supply: Lisa Norman

Call to Worship – based on VU # 179

Come, let us hear good news. Jesus has died and risen.

We have been crucified with Christ and now shall live forever.

Come let us praise the living God, joyfully sing to our Saviour.

Refrain

Hallelujah, hallelujah. Give thanks to the risen Christ.

Hallelujah, hallelujah! Give praise to God’s name.

Acknowledgement of Territorial Lands (in unison)

We acknowledge that the Creator Entrusted the land on which we gather this day to First Nations Peoples of the Anishnabeg/Mississauga. May we strive to open our hearts, minds and spaces; to make right with all our relations. May it be so.

Offering 

While we can‘t take up the offering as we used to do in the sanctuary, it is still an important part of our ministry. We acknowledge and thank you all for your contributions to the church whether via PAR or other means.  “For the love of the world Jesus offered everything he had, even life itself. In response to his generosity we offer our gifts and our lives to God. Amen”           

(Written by Frances Flook Gatherings 2021 p.37)

Opening Prayer

Help- us trust in you, our holy shepherd in times of both trouble and celebration

Thanks- for the many blessings we daily receive from your love

Wow- the fullness of our hearts when we open our eyes to these daily blessings and the miracle of spring.

In humble gratitude we come before you, most loving Creator.  Amen

Light the Christ Candle: We light the Christ Candle today to symbolize Jesus, the light of the world who lives within each of us.

Scripture Reading: John 10: 11-18

“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He’s only in it for the money. The sheep don’t matter to him.

“I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They’ll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd. This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father.”

Hymn: Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth 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 thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

TIME FOR THE YOUNG AT HEART – Psalm 23 in our language

David was a shepherd but when God looked at him, he saw a king and that is what David grew up to be; a great king. But David was also a great songwriter. He wrote a number of songs, called psalms and one of his most famous songs we sang this morning. We sang it in the older language of the King James Bible but this is what is says in our modern language.

God is my Shepherd and I am his little lamb.

He feeds me

He guides me

He looks after me.

I have everything I need.

Inside, my heart is very quiet.

As quiet as lying still in soft green grass

In a meadow, by a little stream.

Even when I walk through the dark, scary, lonely places

I won’t be afraid because my Shepherd knows where I am.

He is here with me

He keeps me safe

He rescues me

He makes me strong and brave.

He is getting wonderful things ready for me

Especially for me

Everything I ever dreamed of!

He fills my heart so full of happiness, I can’t hold it all inside.

Where I go I know

God’s Never Stopping

Never Giving Up

Unbreaking

Always and Forever

Love 

Will go too!

(The Jesus Storybook Bible- Sally Lloyd-Jones)

Sermon

In our secular society, perhaps the 23rd Psalm is the most familiar piece of scripture. We have heard it used in countless television scenes and movie shoots, often as protagonists stumble toward their inevitable death or as mourners huddle around a graveside. It has been incorporated into books and songs. Many people have heard it, but how many have really listened to it.

It is a psalm often associated with death and frequently recited at funerals. I am sure we have all done this at some point or many points in our life. We have recited the 23rd Psalm; but have we sung those words from our heart.

But while it is often used in scenes and services focused on death, this is a psalm about living. Because this is a Psalm about trusting God.

Let’s go back a bit. Psalm 22 opens with the line “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The psalmist laments and shouts his grief, his anger, his despair. We have heard these words recorded in both the Gospels of Matthew and Mark as Jesus hung on the cross.

Perhaps you have felt abandonment in your life. Maybe right now you are grieving and lamenting losses. The loss of visits with family and friends, the loss of confidence in the capacity and ability of our health care system to look after us. The loss of school and all of the spring traditions that usually accompany it, like Play Day, Prom and Graduations. the loss of hugging grandchildren and elderly parents. The loss of being able to properly grieve a death surrounded by family and friends. It is said that asking the question. “How are you?” is dangerous right now. Do you really want to know? 

And this is where Psalm 23 comes to us, speaking of mercy, love, rest and goodness. 

That first line-

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Let’s face it we are sheep. We are vulnerable to danger. We often don’t listen and we get into trouble. We want to belong to a flock but sometimes don’t want to follow along. Sometimes we are the small little lambs that need a lot of care. Other times we are the rams that just butt things out of the ways to fulfill our pride. Sometimes we are the mommy sheep, trying to care for everyone and finding it all just a bit too much.

We need a shepherd! And in John 10:11 Jesus tells us that he is the good shepherd. He will lay down his life for us. We know his voice.

The hired hand will not. Yet sometimes we want to follow the hired hand be it disguised as a product, an instagram post, an advertisement, a movie, or a pop culture figure or perhaps someone closer to us. We believe the false promise of a better, fancier, prettier, adventure filled, care-free life if we only place our faith in the hired hand.

But our joy is not found by following the hired hand. It is found by placing our faith in the good shepherd who knows each of us by name and searches for those missing from the flock. 

The 23rd Psalm tells me that by placing my trust, my faith in the Lord, I shall not lack. My heavenly mother and father will make me rest and guide me to calmness. The Holy Spirit will heal my soul and if I listen to this shepherd who loves me so much, I will be led to make decisions that sit well with my heart, my mind and my soul.

How awesome is that?! We crave rest, calmness and guidance. Find it in prayer. Say those first lines from the heart and KNOW the love of the shepherd who seeks us out. 

Now we get to the scary part of Psalm 23. But it to,o is reassuring. The shepherd doesn’t make wolves extinct, or provide paths lined with bumper cushions to keep the sheep on the straight and narrow path even when they don’t listen or get distracted and are tempted to wander off. No that is not the way of the shepherd. Instead the shepherd promises to never abandon the sheep. 

When we walk through the darkest valley and are scared, despairing and sad, God is with us and like a shepherd, offers comfort to both individual sheep and the entire flock. The shepherd uses a rod and staff to protect and comfort the sheep. What does God provide to us as sheep? Words of scripture. Stories and parables. Presence in prayer. Forgiveness, love, strength. And just as importantly, each other. A friend once told me, “Lisa, life is hard and no one ever said you have to do it alone.” How true is this. We have the Good Shepherd and we have each other. We fear no evil!

And in the presence of our enemies, when we are tempted, God does not wipe her hands of us. Although surely sometimes she must be tempted to. No what does the Good Shepherd do, starts cooking up all that we need to be sustained and fight the enemy. We just have to walk up to the table and take what is needed. 

The line, “you anoint my head with oil” can be interpreted as the anointing of a king. And let us remember that David was a king, so contextually speaking, this interpretation makes sense. But God anoints us all, through baptism, through communion, through prayer. If we let God touch us, what happens? “My cup overflows.” I want to live a life of overflowing, not stinginess and scarcity. Let God overflow my cup with Easter Joy, with Love, with Faith, with Trust. Let me be the vessel that continuously cannot take it all in!

The end of this psalm does not promise us happiness, wealth, fame. What is the grace given to those who let the Good Shepherd lead? The house of the Lord my whole life long. Belonging, refuge, a home. And not just a home but like two extraordinary sheep dogs, Mercy and Goodness will follow us, never letting us go astray.  I don’t know about you, but right now, with so much out of my control, I need my Good Shepherd to know me, love me, protect me. And I need to let God lie me down in green pastures and rise up ready to trust in the Good Shepherd and follow his voice which my soul knows so well.

Hymn: VU #288 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” (Words: Thomas O. Chisholm)

1          Great is thy faithfulness, God our Creator;

            there is no shadow of turning with thee;

            thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;

            as thou hast been thou forever wilt be.

                        Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!

                        Morning by morning new mercies I see;

                        all I have needed thy hand hath provided –

                        great is thy faithfulness, ever to me!

2          Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,

            sun, moon, and stars in their courses above

            join with all nature in manifold witness

            to thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.  R

3          Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,

            thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,

            strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow –

            wondrous the portion thy blessings provide.  R

Prayers of the people

Most Holy Shepherd, you know each one of us intimately.

You see the stirrings in our hearts and troubles on our minds

We rest assured that we are yours and that you are our most loving Saviour.

Please be with……

Knowing that you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God and pray together as you taught us….

The Lord’s Prayer

Benediction

May the road rise up to meet you.  May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face.

May the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of Her hand.

Amen.

DUNSFORD UNITED CHURCH

Church Office Hours: Wed. 9-5

Tel: 705-793-2511

Email: dunsfordunitedchurch@bellnet.ca

Visit our new website: www.dunsfordunitedchurch.com

Supply Minister: Rev. Anne Hepburn

Confidential Email: annehepburn54@gmail.com

Cellphone: 416-305-1247

Envelope Steward: Kathy


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