Worship May 3, 2020
I welcome you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
We gather in the presence of our Shepherd God,
who calls us each by name,
who restores our souls,
who leads us in the way of righteousness,
and whose goodness and love never stops pursuing us.
This is the God we have come to worship!
We are standing at the gate, O loving Shepherd, not sure about the journey. But you have called our names, and in your voice, we hear such love and security. Bring us safely on the journey and strengthen us that we may serve you in all that we do. AMEN.
Children’s Message Ben Ziegler
Scripture John 10:1-5 Parker Mitchell
The Good Shepherd and His Sheep
10 “Very truly I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 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 listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
Special Music He Has Made Me Glad the Hanson Girls
Meditation Where You Go, I Will Follow
Open in prayer
What do you call 100 sheep rolling down a hill?
A lamb-slide. haha
My Grandpa and Grandma Severson, my dad’s parents raised sheep. My memory does not include anything about what they did with the sheep. Did they sell them, I do not know? But as long as I remember there were sheep on the farm.
The land my grandparents farmed would probably not be classified as particularly good for crops. I do not know how many acres it was but most of it was big hills and a little river that ran through it. In fact the house and barn were surrounded on three sides by the river.
The hills were impressive in size. At some point parts the hills had been dug out looking for gravel but at the time my grandparents lived there it was not yet a gravel pit. My favorite pastime when I stayed there was to ride horse all around the farm.
When I rode on the hills, I followed the narrow sheep paths. It was scary! The sheep were little and could navigate the hillside with no problem, but my horses were big, and I was always certain the horse would misstep and down we would go. In one location, one that I rode often, a misstep could have meant a tumble down the hill that would have landed me in the river. I know now that if I had more trust in the horse, I wouldn’t have been afraid.
Those sheep were followers and it was that single file following that created those paths that I followed.
Humans tend to also be followers. When I was riding the horses on my grandparent’s farm, I was physically following in the path of the sheep, but I was mentally following the cowgirls of rodeos and horse shows. I longed to be a cowgirl. My longing to be a cowgirl wasn’t just for the rodeo and horse show life, it was also to gain approval of my father.
My father was a cowboy through and through, the hat, the boots and jeans, even the bolo tie for dress up. He bought and sold horses for a living and I so looked for his approval and love.
We humans are followers and we choose who and what we follow.
In grade school I lived in a little town and we even had our horses in a barn in town, yep the town was that little. The cool kids had horses and I was following the cool kids. My desire to follow the rodeo or horse show circuit had passed but I wanted to follow the cool kids, so I rode.
By high school I lived in a larger town and my horse-days were over. But I had found another group to follow. A bunch of girls, if memory serves right there were about 18 of us and we all wore navy blue windbreakers – yep all of us! And we called ourselves the Mod Squad. We looked alike and we acted alike. I’m not sure how the Mod Squad got started but once it was, I followed.
We humans tend to follow.
- We follow political parties
- We follow religious denominations
- We follow musical groups
- We follow trends, trends in clothing, trends in activities, even trends for vacation locations
- We might follow stuff that others think is too good to be true – ever watch Dr Phil and the men and women that have found their true love; following some foreign-born person that they have never met.
- Sometimes we change how we act or speak when we are with different groups
- Grandma Great, Rod’s grandma would pronounce our last name as Schaffran when she was with us younger folks but when she was with relatives her age, she pronounced it Sh-ah-ffran.
This week I got to socially distance visit with Karen and Dan Schaefer and their granddaughter on their farm. Their granddaughter raises sheep and I wanted to interview her about her observations of sheep and their behavior.
What a fun experience. Sheep are interesting creatures.
On the surface our scripture read by Parker is about sheep and the shepherd but of course Jesus the storyteller is using sheep and the shepherd to demonstrate a message for the early Christians, and for us.
Sheep dotting the landscape would have been a common sight to the people traveling the biblical lands but less so for us today.
The scripture starts with a warning about false shepherds and goes on to identify Jesus as the true shepherd.
For the early Christians, the false shepherd would have been anything or anyone that tried to steal or harm the sheep. This might have included wolves or dogs and thieves or vandals.
What is the equivalent for us today? Do you remember…
- James Warren Jones. Jim Jones was an American preacher and faith healer turned cult leader. He conspired with his inner circle to direct a mass murder-suicide of his followers in his jungle commune at Jonestown, Guyana. The death toll at Jonestown on November 18, 1978 was 909 people, a third of them children.
- What appeared to be a true leader and believer lead his followers to their death.
Jesus the true shepherd warns the flock about false shepherds (10:1).
Jesus the true shepherd entered by the gate (10:2).
In verse 3 The gatekeeper opened to Jesus the true shepherd.
Some theologians think it is a stretch to assign anyone specifically as the gatekeeper. Others say that it refers to God or the Holy Spirit or Moses.
Still others think it is reasonable to view the gatekeeper as John the Baptist. After all John the Baptist opened the gate for Jesus to enter the fold of Judaism as their true shepherd. For me I don’t care who the gate keeper was that let Jesus in but instead I choose to focus on the shepherd
Jesus the true shepherd provides personal care for His sheep, calling them by name and leads them out.
John 10:3b: “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name ….” I want to be one of those sheep. To be called by Jesus…Jesus knows us by name, and he calls out to us individually. Wow!
Jesus the true shepherd provides leadership and protection for His sheep.
I long to be led by Jesus and enjoy the protection he offers me
. The shepherd’s sheep follow Him because they know His voice.
Do you now Jesus voice? His voice may come to you through others, through music, in prayer and meditation, in study of scripture, Scripture says “be still and know that am God”. Do you know his voice?
The shepherd’s sheep flee from strangers whom they don’t know.
When we know Jesus, when we are in a relationship with Jesus, we too will flee from that which is not of God.
Jesus is here for us to know and to love to care for and be cared for, to love and be loved by, to talk to and listen to. Jesus is here for you.
The bottom line is, it’s not how much you know, but who you know. Sheep aren’t known to be the smartest animal, but they learn to know and follow their leader. Their shepherd cares for them, protects them, knows them by name.
The message of this parable is that Jesus is the true shepherd. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who was willing to die and did die for those who put their faith in Him.
Any other person who claims to be the true shepherd is a robber or thief. he or she is a false shepherd.
This was a powerful message to the Jewish religious leaders who considered themselves to be the true shepherds of God’s flock.
This is a wonderful message for anyone who seeks peace with God and security in eternity.
Jesus is the Gate to eternal salvation and Jesus is the Good Shepherd who cares, watches, and protects those who believe in Him.
Jesus longs for you to follow him as the sheep follow the shepherd. To be cared for as the sheep are cared for by the shepherd, to be protected as the sheep are protected by the shepherd.
The Good Shepherd, Jesus is calling to you. Will you join his flock?
Special Music Praise Song for the Pandemic
words written and read by Christine Valters Paintner
Offering and Prayer of Dedication
Praise song for the pandemic: This beautiful video segment, featuring words written and read by Christine Valters Paintner, lifts up many of the groups impacted by the pandemic we are in. This Praise Song in Word lifts up the many needs facing our world.
The Shepherd cares for us, providing all that we need in abundance.
The Shepherd calls us to love one another in truth and action.
May our gifts reflect our trust in the Shepherd’s care.
May our offerings show our willingness to love one another.
The needs are great, and we are blessed with much. Please mail your offering to the church or drop it off during the week.
God of love, you abide with us; you provide for all our needs and guide us in your ways.
Out of gratitude for your care, we bring our gifts before you.
Use them for your work of caring, that all may feast at the table of abundance, walk without fear, and drink deeply from the cup of compassion. Amen.
Pastoral Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer
Lord, help us approach the gate of this sheepfold with confidence. Let us walk through from our fears and doubts to lands of hope and peace, trusting in the Shepherd who seeks us, guides us, and cares for us. In so many of our ways, we are stubborn; yet you gently call our names, reminding us of your eternal love. As we have placed the names of those near and dear to us before you, we seek your healing grace, help us remember that we also stand in need of your healing mercies. Help us place our trust in you. Help us reach out to others in confidence because of your love for us. For we ask this in Christ’s name. AMEN.
When the Disciples asked Jesus how they should pray he taught them and together we pray…
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen
Come through the gate of joy and hope, moving into the world that needs to hear the words of peace. Go in peace to all God’s people, bringing good news of Christ’s abundant love for them. AMEN.
- Thank you to Parker Mitchell for sharing scripture with us and to Lilly, Taylor, Aubrey, Missy, Megan and Grace for the special music.
- Mask drive
Welia clinic and hospital is doing a mask drive. If people would be willing to sew masks and bring them to the Pine City or Mora site, they can be dropped off in the bins labeled “Mask Drive” inside the first doors, before you get completely into either building.
There are two templates for sewing these masks on WELIA’s website. www.welia.org
The masks will be used by people coming to the clinic/hosp. and be given out to patients as they go home to use while out in the community.
- We have an update from Bishop Bruce Ough. He has now asked all United Methodist churches in Minnesota to not host in-person worship through May 30. We are using the month of May to plan for and prepare for our future worship.