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

4th Sunday of Easter

25 Apr 2021, midnight

Alleluia Christ is risen!

Readings: Acts 4v5-12; Psalm 23; 1 John 3v16-end; John 10v11-18

Let us Pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight Lord our strength and our Redeemer. Amen.

A word from Lucy: The 23rd psalm was written in ancient times by David, of David and Goliath fame. Now, David was a shepherd before being chosen by God to be a King. In the psalm, David describes God as one who is like a shepherd: one who keeps His people safe and meets their needs, so they lack nothing of value. David says that God will always be there to lead and guide His people taking them into lives of righteousness and comforting and holding them when death and evil threatens them. Then, when this life is done, God will invite them to be anointed and enjoy an abundant feast in a place where they can live forever.

John’s gospel echoes and builds on what we hear in the psalm. Jesus says He is the good shepherd and was sent by His Father to gather in all the sheep who belong to God. Jesus says this includes sheep from other sheep pens who are to be gathered together into one great flock. Jesus says that He will lay down his life and then take it back up again for everyone who belongs to this flock – for Jesus says that this includes everyone who knows, listens to and follows him.

John’s letter urges us all to believe and trust in Jesus and be brave before God by living lives pleasing to God by loving one another. For, through these, John says that God: draws us into community with Him, blesses us with His Spirit and empowers us to live like Jesus.

And, it is this power that we hear about in the Book of the Acts. Peter and John were arrested because they were teaching and proclaiming that, in Jesus, there is the resurrection of the dead. Then, when brought before the tribunal of rulers, elders and scribes they were questioned about the power they used to heal a disabled man. So, prompted by the Holy Spirit, Peter said that the man healed and standing before them, was in good health through the power of the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. And, emboldened by the spirit, Peter declared that Jesus was the person they had crucified and that God had raised from the dead – and even though they had rejected Jesus, the cornerstone - there is no other name under heaven, through whom mortals can be saved.

Today, I believe that this is a message we need to accept for ourselves and share with others. For God is with us in the ups and downs of life and - after this life is done – God is waiting for us in heaven. And, Jesus says that everyone who listens to and follows him is included – which means that no-one who listens and follows Jesus is excluded – no matter what we think of them or about them. And if we dare to present ourselves to God, God will draw close to us and bless us with His power. A power that will enable us to fulfil whatever God is calling us to do.

This is something I have learnt about in my own life and have heard about in the witness of others. It is a message I believe and trust and even though I regularly doubt – I always find myself being so surprised by being surprised by God.

Lords’ prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is 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, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen

The Grace: May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all, now and evermore. AMEN

Thank you for joining us today. Happy Eastertide - Christ is risen.