A Call to Worship
Easter 4C 2013
Psalm 23

Welcoming God, you invite us to come into our special sacred space
to gather together with God, and to join in our shared worship of God.
The Lord is my Shepherd; I have received all I ever needed in the past.

Generous God, you guide us to meet together in prayer and praise
and as we gather with God - we are rested and quietly restored in God.
The Lord is my Shepherd; I have everything I need now - at this moment.

Hospitable God, you have prepared for us here, a great feast of blessings—
as we meet together with God, and share in fellowship and thanksgiving.
The Lord is my Shepherd; I have everything I will ever need - for all time. Amen.

Prayers of Trust and Petition
Easter 4C 2013
Psalm 23

Anointing God, you pour the oil of your blessings over us and within us
as we gather together in worship and praise of our God, who is our Good
Shepherd. Through your tender care of us, we are saved from all those
things in life that would harm our souls, our minds and our spirits; and for
this we offer our prayers of thankfulness. Just as any good shepherd pours
oil over his sheep’s head to stop insects attacking its vulnerable ears and
eyes, so God’s love and mercy flows over us where we are most vulnerable.

Rest-giving God, you invite us into your Quiet Centre to be at peace with
you, with ourselves, and with our neighbour; in this noisy and distracting
world. Wherever we turn, the pressures of life and living invade us when
we are most sensitive to hurt or to exploitation. Instead, you call us to rest
in the security of God’s holy presence - where we find rest for our soul, mind,
spirit and body; and where we can simply let go - and let God offer us the
balm of God’s comfort, peace, healing and wholeness - to restore our soul.

God, you are the inexhaustible source of all life and love, and here you have
ready for us always, a feast of blessings, as we meet together with our God.
We come before our God, feeling empty and drained, asking to be filled again
with God’s grace and mercy, with God’s forgiveness and renewing strength.
We come before God, feeling soiled and damaged by life and living, needing
to be cleansed by our Good Shepherd of all that stains and spoils our being.
We come before God, knowing we are incomplete as people, needing to be
completed and blessed by God’s holiness in our life, living and loving. Surely,
God’s goodness and unfailing love is within and around us - always and forever. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Easter 4C 2013
Psalm 23

My limited experience of helping to care for sheep has mainly been
through assisting in rounding up large flocks of sheep on a relative’s
farm; helping with doing the “maternity rounds” during the lambing
season; or helping to round up sheep for their regular immersion in
“sheep dip”, which helps to prevent infestations by various insects.
The concept of “anointing” has its origins in ancient biblical times, when
shepherds poured oil over sheep’s head to stop insect infestations—
which often killed the sheep. After the “anointing”, the insects couldn’t
land on the sheep’s slippery head, and so they were often “saved”
from death by that anointing! I guess the use of “sheep dip” is the
modern equivalent of that long-ago shepherd’s simple treatment to
help restrict diseases, caused by insects in sheep’s eyes and ears.

Creative pause: The “shepherd’s” care for the sheep’s well-being has not changed.

This concept of “anointing” eventually took on political and religious
significance, and became a symbolic consecration to a special office.
Royalty were/are anointed, as were Old Testament prophets. The oil
itself was not the “channel” for the blessing; as it was only a symbol of
God’s blessing being “poured” over people. In biblical times, anointing
one’s visitor’s head and feet was also the responsibility of a host when
guests arrived; as the oil refreshed their guests. Their feet were usually
dusty, and even painful after damage from rocky pathways. So anointing,
or the “laying on of hands” signifies a gracious welcome and was symbolic
of sensitive caring; or it was a blessing of consecration for a new task.
The notion of “anointing” has developed a long way from smelly sheep!

Creative pause: The act of “anointing” is symbolic of God’s blessings poured over us.

In biblical times, the very significant bond that existed between shepherd
and sheep was extremely close, as opposed to the modern massed-flock
farming methods of today! Currently, such shepherd/sheep bonding is
only important when orphaned lambs are “bottle-fed”; and then a close
and trusting bond grows as these lambs grow and become stronger due
to maintaining their regular feeding regime. Meeting the basic necessities
of life are still needed, whatever farming methods are used, and the concept
of being a “good shepherd” adds meaning and purpose within any culture.

Creative pause: Bonding with the “Good Shepherd” is vital to our well-being!

Unless stated otherwise, all Bible readings and extracts used in these weekly Prayers and
Meditations are from the ‘New Living Translation’, © 1996. Copyright. All rights reserved.
Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189 USA.

*The additional weekly numbering is from the Revised COCU Indexing Scheme
COCU = ('Consultation on Church Union'); as it offers an easy sequential numbering for the Revised
Common Lectionary for the Church Calendar.

If any part of these Prayers and/or Meditations is used in shared worship, please provide
the following acknowledgement:
© 2013 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year C. Used with permission.


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