Over the last month I’ve had the rare opportunity to listen to others preach and see the way they lead worship. It’s interesting. Last week I began during my morning walk listening to Bill Young’s blog https://revdbill.uk “for and from North Coventry Group.” Bill spoke about recognising Jesus “in the every day, in normality, in community.” As I walked along the River Sowe, contemplating the rubbish that collects under London Road bridge, it was good to be reminded that this is the world Jesus loves. Once I was home and breakfasted, Chris and I settled down together to listen to the service from Downing Place, Cambridge https://youtu.be/30MMouFqMiQ where John Bradbury was preaching his last sermon before moving to become General Secretary. He used the Emmaus Road experience to talk about the conversations with his colleague Nigel Uden to bring their two churches together, and all the conversations that had happened across the churches to bring them to a point where they are one church ready to move into a newly renovated building. It reminded me of the steps we took to become Ansty Road and the conversations that will be necessary if St. Columba’s and Warwick Road are to make a similar journey. A thoughtful message was enhanced by music from their talented musicians. Both of those were pre-recorded. The week before we had been to a Zoom Service, about 100 people connected by Video link led by some friends from the North West. It was immediate, interactive, slightly chaotic and a chance to meet up with some friends. But I’ve also looked in at some cringeworthy offerings and others that are worthy but uninspiring. I guess that is just ordinary church week to week.
Last week saw our first attempts at offering something more than a weekly letter. Kirsty and I produced a conversation “Walking with Strangers” that can be found on the websites. It does not attempt to replicate the worship that is already available, but to add something a little different. But within it, there is a prayer and some music that will point you towards a hymn. We also hosted our first Zoom Bible Study. It was lovely to see people and to see the effort some of you had made to be connected. Please try to join us again on Tuesday when we look at 1 Peter 2 and what it might be to be Living Stones. The link remains https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4043156568. If you want to try it out before hand let me know and I will try to help you. It is best on a tablet or laptop that has microphone and camera. But if you can see and hear us there are also ways of interacting.
You are God’s chosen and special people. You are a group of royal priests and a holy nation. God has brought you out of darkness into God’s marvellous light.
CraigSunday 3 May Third Sunday after Easter
Prayer Risen Jesus may we always know your voice, and follow the one who leads us through the gate.
Hymn The King of love my shepherd is,
whose goodness faileth never.
I nothing lack if I am his,
and he is mine forever.
Where streams of living water flow,
my ransomed soul he leadeth;
and where the verdant pastures grow,
with food celestial feedeth.
Bible Read John 10:1-10
Reflection What comes to mind when you think of a Gatekeeper? Are they welcoming or threatening figures? Do they hold the door open for you and bid you good morning, or do they block the way and enquire about your business? I suspect that we have all known both kinds of gatekeeper, but some of us will have experienced one more than the other. How does it feel to be denied access to somewhere we want to be? How might it feel if that happens time and time again – may there be some prejudice at work?
And how often have you been the gatekeeper? Deciding who gets access to a building, or power, or resources. How does that feel? Do you welcome the responsibility or cringe at the thought of it?
Jesus likens himself to the gate, through which we are to enter and find pasture. The gate does not decide whether it is opened or closed, locked or left unattended. But the gatekeeper does.
Jesus also likens himself to the shepherd, for whom the gate is opened so that the sheep can follow the voice they know and trust. This Jesus is not a stranger he is the one to be trusted, the one who will lay down his life for the sheep and gathers them from many folds into one flock.
When we find ourselves in the role of gatekeepers, may we allow the sheep from many folds to follow the way of Jesus, who is the good shepherd, the trusted gate to good pasture.
Prayer Incarnate Jesus, may we know your voice and follow you through the gate into abundant, fruitful life.
Hymn And so through all the length of days,
thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
within thy house forever.
Blessing To God’s scattered people …
Grace and peace to you in fullest measure.