Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Matthew with St. Chad, Smethwick

4th Sunday of Easter

3 May 2020, 5 p.m.

The lectionary readings set were: Acts 2 v42-47; Psalm 23 ; 1 Peter 2 v19-25; and Gospel of John 10 v1-10.

Let us pray: Dear God, may we hear what you are saying to us today. Amen

I believe that today’s scriptures carry a series of reassuring messages for us in a time of strangeness and concern. For as it says in today’s psalm, the 23rd, we have a God who loves us. A God who is with us in our troubles and difficulties. A God who protects us from the full forces of evil. A God who invites us to share eternity with Him. A God who wants the best for us even though, as the letter from Peter says, we were like sheep that had gone astray. For Peter's letter tells us that Jesus went to the cross and suffered for us – a sinful people – to set us free from sin, to heal us and to call us to live for righteousness. Now, by Jesus wounds; we are a people who have been returned to the shepherd and guardian of our souls. Which put simply means that even though we are sinners that we can be saved. And, this letter also tells us that when we endure during times of suffering, like the times we are in now, we are simply following our calling to live by the example of Jesus, and when we endure, we receive God’s approval.

I believe that today’s scriptures also carry to us a message of guidance to all who wish to follow Jesus. For, as we are told in the book of Acts, after being baptised, people devoted themselves to: learning from the teaching of the apostles, living in fellowship with one another, sharing what they had with one another, spending time together in worship at the temple, breaking bread together at home, saying their prayers and praising God.

I believe that today’s scriptures also teach us about mission. For, as we heard in the gospel according to St John, Jesus taught the Pharisees that said that only way to gather God’s sheep is for the true shepherd to call them. Jesus said that when the real shepherd calls, he will call his sheep by name and they will hear and recognise his voice. This tells us that the mission adventure to which we are called is the mission of God, for God himself will call his people by name and they will hear and follow him to a place where they will have life in abundance. And, we can trust God to fulfil His mission because the Book of Acts tells us that, “day by day, the Lord added to their number”.

So today, in the light of these words from the Bible, I feel joyful and confident because of all that God has done, is doing and will do. For he loves us and is calling us to His eternal home. Through the cross of Jesus we are saved. As saved people we are called to live as disciples. As disciples we are called to mission - a mission that is led by God. I hope you feel just as joyful and confident and want to follow Jesus.

Let us pray: Jesus you are the son of God, the good shepherd, the one who laid down his life and rose again for love of us. Have mercy on us for we are sinners. Raise all who trust in you from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. For you Lord Jesus are the resurrection and the life of all who believe. This day, keep us under your protection and give us the grace we need to follow in your footsteps. Amen