Our Bible reading today concerns sheep, a sheepfold and the shepherd.
It echoes in many ways the words of the famous 23rd Psalm found in the Old Testament.
One of the great signs of spring is seeing the new-born lambs in the fields but quite often their journey into this world has to be helped by the shepherd- the lambing season is a very busy one.
Care of sheep and lambs obviously doesn’t stop there- there is always fresh pastures to find and in the times of Jesus, the shepherds would stay in the fields with their sheep, to chase off any predators, like wolves, who slink quietly in at night to try and steal one.
If they were not out in the fields with the sheep, the shepherd would drive them down into the fold to keep them safe at night-time, with the shepherd lying across the entrance and acting like a closed gate.
Jesus referred to himself as the Good Shepherd. He loves and cares for us and like a good shepherd he knows each and every one of us by name. So, keeping that theme in mind we have our first song…….
Awesome God, you gathered the disciples of Jesus, and you gather us, here and now. Just like the disciples, we pray: fill us with your Holy Spirit until we are overflowing. Amen.
Our Gospel reading tells of how Jesus is not only shepherd but gateway too. Jesus knows us all and invites us to get to really know his loving Father in heaven. And the best way to do that is through Jesus. Jesus is the gateway to God.
Our reading can be found here- John 10 v 1-10
So can you re-tell that story….to help you, you need to get a few props.
Brown cloth, towel, flannel, etc.
Pictures of a gate (or make one from free coffee stirrer sticks, cotton wool balls, green cloth/towel/flannel.
Or two bits of coloured paper.
Lay out a piece of brown cloth and follow the instructions (see bold) as you tell the story.
Jesus said: ‘I am the gate (place toy gates or pictures of gates on the cloth),
the gate for the sheep (add toy sheep or balls of cotton wool).
Anyone who comes through me will be safe; (open the gate and let the sheep through)
they will come in and go out, (move the sheep in and out of the gate)
they will find lots of green lush grass (place a piece of green cloth next to the brown cloth and move the sheep onto it).
They will find everything they need, more than they can ever imagine.’
Here is another fun way to think about the story (fun because it is edible).
You will need:
long sweets, e.g. cola strips, liquorice laces,
and mini marshmallows.
Your child/ children will need a plate and biscuit. Ask everyone to cover the top of the biscuit with green icing using a spoon.
Then encourage your child/ children to place long sweets around the outside edge of the biscuit to make a fence leaving a gap for the gate and add a few marshmallows to the centre of the biscuit to represent sheep (see picture).
Jesus looks after us, like the Good Shepherd. He gives us many of the things that help us to grow. He guides us as to the right way to live- he wants us to love God and love each other. And loving each other is something we are seeing more and more of just now.
Our lives have become so different in this social distancing world due to the virus. We are buying more of what we need just now and less of what we just want. People are helping each other out more- there are many community projects to help those who cannot get out to do the shopping. People are staying at home to help our NHS and hospitals.
Everyone has something to give and it doesn’t always cost money.
You will need:
a piece of paper (or several glued together) big enough for a person to be drawn around;
Ask for a volunteer to lie down on top of the paper and another to draw round them so that you have a person outline on the paper.
Encourage your children to write down or draw inside the shape as many things they can think of that we may have in abundance, e.g. smiles, friends, clothes, food.
Then ask the children to think about how we could share our abundant life with those in our homes, schools, church and elsewhere. Ask them to write down these ideas on the paper around the outside of the person shape.
Helping others selflessly has always been the mission of the various superheroes that we have grown up with. And now those superheroes are the ordinary men and women who are working to save lives in our hospitals. Others are helping in our communities, working in care homes, delivery drivers, postmen and women, bin collectors. And we have others who have changed the way their factories are working to make the much needed PPE. So many superheroes!
And you are playing your part too by staying at home.
Let’s pray together…
Lord of all creation, Lord of healing.
We ask for your healing and peace for our world in these worrying times.
We all have our part to play and we thank you for all who are working tirelessly to help the sick get well again in our hospitals. We also thank you for all the creative ideas that people have come up with to keep us all connected and the many thousand acts of kindness we see around us every day.
Please bless our homes and our families both near and far.
Our Final Song
Thinking about all the Superheroes there are out there in the world- let us focus on the Greatest SUPERHERO of all time…Jesus