This week’s Worship

Sunday 25th April 2021 4th Sunday of Easter (4th Sunday)
            9:15 am      Holy Communion, Croston
9:30 am      Family Worship, Mawdesley
11:00 am       Holy Communion, Bretherton

Wednesday   10am Holy Communion, Croston

** Friday 9am Morning Prayer at Mawdesley **
** cancelled until further notice **

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
In first-century Palestine, shepherds were often regarded with suspicion, as some hired hands deliberately allowed their sheep to graze on other people’s land and stole wool, milk and lambs from the flock, so all shepherds tended to be cast as villains.  Today there are still some groups today are on the margins of society and classed as ‘different’ from the so called norm!
It is so typical of Jesus to use the image of someone despised by polite society and turn that image on its head, describing himself as the Good Shepherd.  He was implying that the religious leaders of the day were hired hands who cared nothing for the flock, pointing to their lack of commitment and their sole motivation being to improve their own position in society.
He then takes the image to its extremes by describing how hired hands flee at the first sign of trouble, whilst by contrast, he himself is prepared to lay down his life in order to save the sheep.  He also makes it clear that he chooses this course of action, his death is not an accident of circumstances, but rather a deliberate decision by Jesus.  But why did he choose to die?  Would it not have been better to avoid death at such an early stage in his career and to go on teaching and preaching and healing for many more years?
Jesus explains that he lays down his life in order to take it up again. And with the benefit of hindsight, we know that his new life after death shows us that if we love and trust God enough to give up our status and power and wealth, we will discover an amazing new quality of life right now.  In our lives as we look around us who are our sheep and what are the wolves which threaten them?  When those wolves attack, what do we do?  Do we act like the hired hands and flee, or do we follow Jesus and risk everything in order to save our flock?
Jesus chose to lay down his life for us, showing us that if we too trust God, by facing our own wolves (whatever they might be) rather than evading them, even though this might damage our status or wealth, we too will discover life in all its fullness.

With love & prayers.  Michael (Rector)

Tel: 01772 600548 mobile:07960309005, email: revmwoods@gmail.com

Resources – 4th Sunday of Easter
1)       The 3 bible readings set for this week.
2)       Prayer and worship at home for 4th Sunday of Easter
3)       Young Church Mag activity and colouring sheets

Sunday 2nd May 2021 5th Sunday of Easter (1st Sunday)
            8:00 am      BCP Holy Communion, Mawdesley
9:00 am      Family Worship, Bretherton
9:15 am      Holy Communion, Croston

11:00 am      Holy Communion, Mawdesley

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Please pray for the family and friends of the recently departed:

Chris Lyons

Rest eternal grant unto him O Lord may light perpetual shine upon him, may he rest in peace and rise in glory.

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Facebook & YouTube Online Worship
This week’s Diocesan worship comes St George’s Church in Chorley as they keep the Feast of St. George, it will be led by the Revd Mike Print. This will be on the Diocesan YouTube channel on Sunday morning.
https://www.youtube.com/user/blackburndiocese

This weeks Church of England worship will be Rev Rachel Mann and comes from St. Nicholas Church, Burnage at 9am on Sunday.
https://www.facebook.com/thechurchofengland

Baptisms to Recommence
We are now restarting baptisms in our 3 churches and we will be complying with Covid-19 restrictions and numbers will be limited, following the governments roadmap.
We will mirror the restrictions placed on Weddings which are:
Currently: limit 15 people excluding workers
No earlier than 17th May: limit 30 people excluding workers
No earlier than 21st June: hopefully all restrictions lifted

Note: dependent upon the government guidelines being confirmed
Please email: revmwoods@gmail.com for further details.

Faith reference cards for school applications
Whilst Covid 19 restrictions remain in place across our churches, as they have done since the start of this pandemic we will treat all requests for a faith reference as full attendance.  The Government Roadmap indicates that the earliest that all restrictions will be lifted is 21st June, if this is the case the period from that date through to the end of August will need to be monitored.  Therefore we are not yet issuing replacement attendance records.


The Collect
Risen Christ, faithful shepherd of your Father’s sheep: teach us to hear your voice and to follow your command, that all your people may be gathered into one flock, to the glory of God the Father.          Amen

First Reading
Peter and John had been arrested by the Sadducees for preaching about the resurrection of the dead. They were thrown into prison overnight, awaiting questioning the next day by the court of the Sanhedrin.
Acts 4:5-12
The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family.  When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, ‘By what power or by what name did you do this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.  This Jesus is “the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.”
There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.’

Second Reading
The author has been admonishing Christians to love one another and goes on to expand upon this teaching by talking about the incredible love Jesus has shown them.
1 John 3:16-24
We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us – and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.  How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.  And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.
And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.

The Gospel
Jesus continues his teaching in which he compares himself to a good shepherd and emphasises how much he cares for his flock.
John 10:11-18
‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away – and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.  The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.  I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.  So there will be one flock, one shepherd.  For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.’

Prayer after Communion
Merciful Father, you gave your Son Jesus Christ to be the good shepherd, and in his love for us to lay down his life and rise again: keep us always under his protection, and give us grace to follow in his steps; through Jesus Christ our Lord.         Amen   

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