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Together @ St. Mary's

  • Piotr Ashwin-Siejkowski

The Fourth Sunday of Easter- Jesus the Good Shepherd

As suggested by Jeff, we swap John 10.1-10 (with the emphasis on the hearing the voice) with Matthew 18.10-14, The Parable of the Lost Sheep.

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Good morning St Mary's! We start our Sunday school suggestions with the 3-7year olds. Please feel free to skip to the 8+years section if you are older.


3-7year olds

1. Opening prayer: "Dear Jesus, thank you that we are together as one family. You love us all and you are present in our house. You are also our good shepherd."


2. Let's explain to our children who is "a shepherd"? It is somebody who cares for sheep and lambs. He knows them, calls them by different names, he knows the way to a lovely meadow where is green grass and the sheep will fed and safe.


3. In today's story Jesus tells that he is OUR good, nay, BEST shepherd. Have a look at this clip:




4. What do we think of the shepherd's care? Was he kind? Is number 100 a big number? He cared for so many sheep, each one was important. It is the same with Jesus. There are so many children in the World, (many more than 100) and Jesus cares for each one through parents, teachers, doctors...


5. How can we respond to Jesus' care and love? Simple, by little gestures of care and love for others. Right now: our family. What can I do to show that I care and that I love my family? Let's do some practice today: maybe watering a plant, help my Mum and Dad with lunch (put the spoons and forks on the table), maybe draw a picture of a sheep for Grandpa and Grandma?


Print off the sheet below and decorate with cotton wool/colourful tissue paper. Or you could write the first letter of your name on the the body of the sheep: A for Anna... including our brothers, sisters and parents...



6. Time to pray. We can say the Lord's prayer together, if we are old enough, or just pray for all whom we love and that take care of us.


The words for the Lord's prayer can be found at the end of this post.






Older children:


1. Opening prayer: "Dear Jesus, you are my shepherd and I am loved by you. Thank you for your care and protection. As we read today the story about lost sheep, we pray for all people who are yet to be found. Amen".


2. let's talk about our own experience of being lost or even confused. An event from our holidays? Missing a flight? Arriving to a wrong hotel? Not being able to speak the local language? Sat-Nav was not working in the car on our way to our destination? What were our feeling at that moment? Panic? Anger?


3. Reading the Gospel: Matthew 18.10-14.


The Parable of the Lost Sheep

10 ‘Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. 12 What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.


What can you tell about shepherd's attitude? Caring? Negligent? Loving? Lazy? He represents Jesus' love for each one of his sheep. They are all together as a community, they are similar to all of us at St Mary's church: young and older, experienced and new born babies. 


4. My trust in Jesus: do I trust him? Why? Do I have an experience of his care? Love? What about our Sunday School? This is an opportunity to think about our relationship with Jesus and how he rejoices over each one of us.


5. Let's pray together:


- for all people who are lost in wars and conflicts - for Jesus' presence among them.

- for all Christians who can't worship freely, for God's blessing upon them.

- for all who are helping us in this pandemic: scientists, doctors, nurses, people working in supermarkets, all key works.

- for our church community, especially elderly people (chose one name from our congregation)

- for all departed (maybe some members of our families)

- for us: greater trust that Jesus is present among us.


We say together the Lord's 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.







Dear Friends,


80 years ago tomorrow, on the 30th April 1940, at the age of 21, my father (photo above) was captured by German soldiers, having been shot in the shoulder and the leg and left for dead by all but one of of his comrades. They’d had a rough crossing over three nights and three days across the North Sea to Norway. They were then sent into battle on comparatively empty stomachs armed with only left over guns from the First World War.

Some of his comrades were shot within minutes, others drowned as they tried to escape from the unequal numbers and guns of their enemies, my father and his mate Onslow Thomas were shot, captured and taken prisoner.

As they were in such a bad state they and others who had been captured during the day were, in the dead of night, told to get out of the truck that was transporting them, lined up against a hedge in the open country and realised that they were to be shot.

My father turned to the man next to him, a stranger, and said "I don’t know whether you believe in God, but I would start saying your prayers if I were you." He said he began to say the Lord’s Prayer.

It sounds improbable, but at that moment a German officer rode by on a motorbike, saw what was just about to happen and stopped it. "Take these men to hospital immediately" he ordered, and that’s the last my father remembered until waking up to see the kind face of a hospital nurse the next day.

Years later, when things were difficult for my father or life was hard, he would say "This is nothing Jeff. I survived 5 years in a POW Camp, I spent months in solitary confinement for helping others to escape and I was just over 6 stone in weight when I came home." In spite of the anguish of those years, it seemed to have built up resources within him which he drew strength from for the rest of his life.

Though what most of us are currently going through is not as dramatic or as extreme as what my father and so many others experienced during the war, I am sure that I am not alone in finding that I am relying on the resources I have built up through testing times in the past, the better to deal with our present situation. 

For example:

- Friendships that have been seasoned by years of shared experiences which now give one so much warmth, inspiration and energy.

- The way we have endured adversity in years past, bereavement, disappointment, rejection, loneliness etc. has built up our emotional muscles in ways we hadn’t previously realised.

- The sense that the God has been with us in the past, prompting us through the transitions, continues to be with us now when we need His help.

As with my father, the resilience we have found within ourselves in times past to deal with these experiences and to make creative use out of them and not to be overcome by them, will stand us in good stead as we seek to glean something positive out of our present circumstances. And the influence and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is constantly being offered to us as we seek to make sense out of what is happening, as we call upon Him in our hour of need, as we seek to be a prayerful conduit for grace for others and as we pray that we may recognise the opportunities for serving Christ in the lives of one another throughout this shared experience.

May all of us find within ourselves, and beyond ourselves in the power of the Holy Spirit, the physical, psychological and emotional resources we need to deal creatively with the coming days and may this experience draw us ever closer to God and closer to each other in the mutual bonds of healthy dependency, which is intrinsic to how God has made us.

Blessed are they who recognise their need for God,

The strength of the Holy Spirit will be given them!

With continued prayers and good wishes.

Jeff




PRAYER

Lord, we give thanks for all those who have intervened in our lives

To make that essential difference between hope and fear,

Intimacy and isolation, acceptance and rejection.

Please prompt us to be there for others

To make those differences too,

That we may live as people prompted 

By the love you have for each and every person in our lives.

In these strange and challenging days of Covid 19,

Please help us to know that you are with us, no matter what,

That nothing can ever distance you from us or us from you.

Help us Lord to find within us, the gifts and grace of the Holy Spirit

To assist and resource us for the days to come.

May we know your strength surrounding and empowering us

To deal creatively with these current circumstances

And to use this time constructively to reflect on what

Really, lastingly matters and then to invest our lives

In those things which give dignity and purpose to our existence.

This we ask, in the assurance of your presence, power and protection,

And in Jesus’ name. 

AMEN.

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