On Sunday April 21st I led worship at Woodlands Chapel. We began worship with an introit which the congregation sang. As it is still the Easter season we sang; ‘This joyful Eastertide’ before the prayers. I was pleased to see there were some children there, and encouraged them to listen to Jesus. I reminded them of how Peter kept letting Jesus down, but that Jesus did not give up on him and kept giving him more chances to follow him properly. The reading from Acts showed that just like his master Jesus he responded to the need of the friends of Dorcas to come and pray. Dorcas had made clothes for the widows, who were distressed that she had died, as she had been so caring and helpful to them. The transformed Peter sent the mourners out of the room and prayed and told Dorcas/Tabitha to rise up, just as Jesus had done when he healed Jairus’ daughter. Now Peter realised he could do nothing in his own strength, but only through Jesus’ power; because Jesus loved him, he wanted to love and serve him faithfully. In the same way we make mistakes but Jesus is always there to forgive us, as he forgave Peter, and help us to love and serve others as he did. The children had chosen the next hymn and one child read the first verse of ‘Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising.’ We read Psalm 23 as a responsive psalm and we had the reading from Acts 9v36-43. We then sang ‘I heard the voice of Jesus say’ before we did a dramatised reading based on John 10v22-42.
I then preached on the passage from John when Jesus was asked if he were the Messiah, but as he knew those questioners were trying to trap him, he said he had told them, but he knew no matter what he said they would not believe him. He knew there were those who were determined not to believe in him and therefore could not be persuaded, even if he had told them! He knew his deeds of service revealed who he was as he met the needs of those around him, but had those not persuaded his questioners to believe, nothing would. However he knew those who listened to his voice and knew his voice as a sheep knows its shepherd’s voice and would follow him, however obscurely he spoke. Psalm 23 showed how the shepherd cared for his sheep. I always find it encouraging that no matter how many times we let Jesus down he will always stretch out his hand to lift us to our feet and encourage us on our way. As we learn to love him more, we are gradually changed into the people God created us to be. We sang ‘Be still for the presence of the Lord’ to lead us into the intercessions on the theme of the shepherd showing us how to live and respond the needs around us. The service concluded as we sang ‘Dear Lord and Father of mankind forgive our foolish ways.’ The children had been baking, so we all supported their fundraising for a Sunday school outing by buying some cakes, which we had to carry carefully home to enjoy later.