Sunday Prayer Service
4th Sunday of Easter
May 8, 2022
Almighty ever-living God,
lead us to a share in the joys of heaven,
so that the humble flock may reach
where the brave Shepherd
has gone before.
Who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever
Our life is a short opportunity to say yes to God’s love.
If I did not believe . . . that the works of mercy do lighten the sum total of suffering in the world, the problem of evil would indeed be overwhelming.
Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.
Today we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday and also acknowledge the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. These two occasions fit together neatly: Shepherds lead, and among the vocations we pray for most fervently this day are for those who will lead us into the future as a church and as a global community. We pray for those who already exercise leadership, in spite of the times they will fail and have failed us—indeed, especially in the hour of their failures. We have seen what God can do with human losses, and so we must hold up the brokenness of our attempts to build a peaceful world, a just society, a holy church, and trust that God will consecrate our failures with divine wisdom. A community of hope will do this. A community surrendered to self-righteousness, cynicism, or despair will not.
John’s great vision of the multitude too often gets sidetracked into meaningless discussions concerning the identity of those folks who “survived the time of great distress.” The number 144,000 appears twice in Revelation: once to describe the saved of Israel, and once to count the followers of the Lamb. “12x12x1000” could therefore be symbolic shorthand for “All Israel, all Gentiles, no kidding.” The number 144,000 implies the exact opposite of an exclusive elite. It holds the door open for everybody to join the multitude.
The “great distress” is a good description of our time in this failed and broken world. And don’t those who unite themselves to the Body of Christ most perfectly overcome the struggles of this world so beautifully? Our common vocation is to join that multitude, by overcoming the distress of this world in every act of love, heart by heart and moment by moment. If we are good shepherds now, caring for those who hunger and thirst for nourishment, knowledge, healing, and justice, when we stand before God we will not see hunger or thirst again.
May the strength of God sustain us;
May the power of God preserve us;
May the hands of God protect us;
May the way of God direct us;
May the love of God go with us
this day and forever.
What's in Your Heart?
Some of the people Paul and Barnabas addressed “were converts to Judaism.” Yet it is these people who also followed the two disciples.
Does your view of how the Spirit works in people allow for flexibility and even surprise? Or are you locked into one way of seeing and thus one way of doing things?
In the gospel Jesus said that no one can take his followers out of his and the Father’s hands.
How has God’s hand shielded you? Do you feel secure in God’s protection?
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
Our Lord leads us to eternal life. With confidence in our shepherd we pray to God.
For the church, that it remains faithful to the grace of God, we pray, Lord, hear our prayer.
For every nation, race, and people, that they may know the light of God, we pray, Lord, hear our prayer.
For those in a time of distress, that they may find their way to God, we pray, Lord, hear our prayer.
For this community of faith, that we know we belong to God through Jesus, we pray, Lord, hear our prayer.
We stand before the throne of God who hears the prayers we make in the name of the Lamb of God, Christ our Lord.