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Sermon and Liturgy for The Fourth Sunday of Easter - Year C
Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 23; John 10:22-30
"They Listen and They Follow"


READING:  Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 23; John 10:22-30
SERMON :  "They Listen and They Follow"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-ea04smsn 611781

   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
   for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
   found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
   SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.


GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)

   
* CALL TO WORSHIP:  (based on Psalm 100)
L    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,
     and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P    And also with you.
L    Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
P    Worship the Lord with gladness, come before him with happy
     songs.
L    Acknowledge that the Lord is God.  Remember that he made us
     and that we are his.
P    We are his people, the flock of his pasture.
L    Enter God's gates with thanksgiving and his courts with
     praise.
P    Give thanks to God and bless his holy name.
L    Give thanks and bless his holy name, for the Lord is good, his
     steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all
     generations.


* INTROIT:  "This Is The Day" (verse 1)                   - VU 412


* PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Lord God -- we need you --- we need you every hour of every day -
- we need your support -- your love --- your helping hand.   We
need, O God, your word to guide us -- your Spirit to inspire us -
- your strength to hold us up.   Be present with us at this hour
of worship.  Help us to bless your most holy name.  Make us the
people you want us to be.  We ask it in the name of the risen one
- Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour.  Amen.


* HYMN:  "Holy Spirit, Hear Us"                          - VU 377


CHILDREN'S TIME: "Seeing and Believing"
Object:   - Teddy Bear or Stuffy (Much Loved)
Theme     - The Family Home - and Comfort of God
Source    - Base concept from "Children's Sermon Service Plus"
          Vol. 25, no.2

Good morning -- I brought along today something that is very very
special -- and I want you to see it (show Eyore...)  It doesn't
look like much but this stuffy meant a great deal to the girl who
owned it. When she would fall on her bicycle and skin her knee,
she would get this stuffy and curl up with it on the couch or in
her bed - and she would immediately feel better.  Do any of you
have a stuffy like that....  Does your stuffy have a name....?  
     
This stuffy is called Eyore.  When things happened that made the
girl who owned it feel really sad or cry - Eyore would make her
feel better.  But there was something that made her feel even
better than Eyore - and that was when her mother would hug her
tight and dry the tears from her eyes and her that everything
would be OK.  Then she would feel much better.  Do you ever feel
really sad???   Do your mothers ever hug you and dry your
tears????
     
The bible reading we heard today tells us that in heaven -- that
is the place that all those who believe in Jesus go to after they
die - that in heaven things will be even better than our stuffy's
can make them - even better than mother's can make them.  In
heaven God himself will take us on his lap - and hug us - and
wipe away every tear from our eyes.  There will be no more pain -
or hunger - or thirst - or scorching heat anymore - that there
will be no more sadness - but rather joy forevermore.  
     
I am really glad that God has promised us that we will go to
heaven - that makes things here a lot easier to take - kind of
like knowing that after you do your chores you will get to go to
store and buy some treats -- it makes the chores all seem
worthwhile.


PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
	Dear Lord God - we thank you for heaven - and for your promise -
	that all who love you - will get to go there. - Help us, dear God
	- to do the things we should do - and to love you - and to love
	our neighbours - as we love ourselves.  Amen

	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.  For thine is the kingdom, 
	the power and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen
	

CHILDREN'S HYMN:  "One Light, One Sun"


ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS & CONCERNS
- Annnoucements
- Birthdays and Anniversaries
- Sharing Joys and Concerns


ST ANDREW'S THIS WEEK  


FAVOURITE HYMN OR ANTHEM:


FIRST READING: Revelation 7:9-17
	(NIV)  After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude 
	that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and 
	language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They 
	were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
	{10} And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God,
	who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." {11} All the angels were 
	standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living
	creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and 
	worshiped God, {12} saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and 
	thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and 
	ever. Amen!" {13} Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white
	robes--who are they, and where did they come from?" {14} I answered, 
	"Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of 
	the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them 
	white in the blood of the Lamb. {15} Therefore, "they are before 
	the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and 
	he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. {16} 
	Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun 
	will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. {17} For the Lamb 
	at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead 
	them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear 
	from their eyes."

L	This is the Word of the Lord
P	Thanks be to God.
      

RESPONSIVE READING:  Psalm 23 (Voices United 749 with Sung Refrain)


GOSPEL READING: John 10:22-30
	(NIV) Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 
	{23} and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade.
	{24} The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us
	in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." {25} Jesus 
	answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do 
	in my Father's name speak for me, {26} but you do not believe because 
	you are not my sheep. {27} My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, 
	and they follow me. {28} I give them eternal life, and they shall 
	never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. {29} My Father, 
	who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch 
	them out of my Father's hand. {30} I and the Father are one."

L	This is the gospel of our Risen Lord
P	Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
   

* HYMN:  "Saviour, Like A Shepherd Lead Us"                  - SFGP 93 


SERMON:  "They Listen and They Follow"
  
The Lord is my shepherd - I shall not want - he makes me to lie
down in green pastures - he leads me beside still waters - he
restoreth my soul...

What comforting words these are -

But are they true words??
Are they words that are true in the sense that they really apply
to you??

Jesus said -- "My Sheep hear my voice.  I know them, and they
follow me."

You know - I really want Jesus to be my shepherd -

I want him to be my shepherd because I am told that when I am
lost he will look for me - that when I am in danger that his rod
and his staff will comfort me.

I want Jesus to be my shepherd because - he promises his sheep
eternal life - because he promises that they shall never perish.  

     "No - one will snatch them out of my hand," says Jesus,
     "For what my Father has given me is greater than all else
     and no one can snatch it out of the Father's hand."

As the 23rd Psalm puts it --
     "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days
     of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
     forever."

I really want Jesus to be my shepherd -
     I really want all that the 23rd Psalm promises 
     all that Jesus promises to be true for me...
and from all the people that I know who have selected the 23rd
Psalm for their funeral service - and from all the people that I
know who can recite the 23rd Psalm by heart I reckon that all of
you here today want the same thing --

You want a God to watch over you --
A God to protect you --
A God to bless you --
A God to seek you out when you go astray -
A God to comfort you when you hurt
A God to heal you when you are ill -
A God to walk with you when you walk through the valley of the
     shadow of death
A God to bring you into paradise when you die.

I want -
You want
I think we all want this -
and God says to all of us - 
     the God of Abraham and Sarah - 
     the God of Mary and of Joseph -.
God says to all of us -
Jesus says to all of us -
     You can have it - you can have it from me - for I am the
     good shepherd.  I am the one who looks after his sheep; the
     one who loves his sheep with a love that is stronger than
     death.

Jesus is the good shepherd -- 
Almost every one of us here today believes that -
     - Almost everyone of us here today believes that he is the
     shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep -
     - Almost everyone of us here today believes that he and the
     Father - are - as he said - one,
     - and that what is entrusted to him - is entrusted to the
     Father, and what is entrusted to the Father - is entrusted
     to Him.

I know I believe that  - and I believe that most of you believe
it too -- but the question remains my friends -- the simple
question remains --  - are we his sheep?   Do his words of
comfort apply to us?

Hear what the Shepherd says about his sheep -
hear what every observer of shepherds and sheep knows to be true:

     My sheep know my voice and they follow me.   They will
     not follow a stranger  - but they will run from him
     because they do not know the voice of strangers.   I am
     the good shepherd - I know my own and my own know me.  
     My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow
     me.

Do you see my friends where I am going?
Do you see where my question comes from - the question that asks
- are we his sheep?

In verse sixteen of the tenth chapter of the Gospel According to
John Jesus says " I have other sheep that do not belong to this
fold -- I must bring them also - and they will listen to my
voice."

They will listen to my voice,
they know my voice,
they hear my voice
and they follow me.

This is a test my friends - a test of whether or not we are the
sheep of the good shepherd; a test of whether or not - no matter
what fold we may happen to come from - we are the people who
belong to Jesus Christ - the people who belong to God.

Do you pass the test?
Do you know and listen to your shepherd's voice?

I've told this story before - but it is worth telling again --

     Back when I was about 12 years old  I lived in Kamloops. 
     My mother worked there at the local TV Station as a
     continuity director - she was responsible for scheduling
     all the programs and all the advertisements within those
     programs.  She also wrote ads for local companies and did
     a few other things.

     One night the family was sitting at home watching TV when
     an ad came on for one of the big national moving
     companies - I could tell that it was a locally made ad
     because all the ad consisted of was a picture of a letter
     slanted side-wise on the screen and the voice of a woman
     reading out the letter - thanking the moving company for
     doing such a marvellous job of moving them.  The voice
     was very British - it wasn't one that I recognized at all
     - and so I turned to my mother and asked - "who is that
     reading the ad?  I didn't think that anyone from England
     worked at the TV Station."

     My mother stared at me - shook her head - laughed and
     said - you dummy - that's me!

I'd never heard my mother's voice on tape before and so I didn't
recognize it.

After 12 years of  living with her - I still didn't know my
mother's voice.  I didn't know that she had a British accent.  I
didn't recognize her speech apart from seeing her in front of me.

So how much easier might it be for me TO NOT KNOW the voice of
Jesus when he speaks to me?
How much easier might it be for anyone of us to not know the
voice of Jesus...

I''ve got a book here -- it's called the Bible --

How many of you here today know what it says?
          
How many of you have actually read it through at least once from
cover to cover?
          
How many of you have actually read from it more than once in the
last week?  Or the last month?

How many of you actually think to look at it while you are in
church to see what it might have to say to you?  How many of you
look at it to see how the preacher is interpreting it?  To see if
his or her words match what the Spirit tells you God is saying
through his word in your heart?

Do you know the voice of the shepherd?  Do you pass the test?

Think about it some more.

How many of you actually prayed to God at least once a day for
each day of the last week?  With your own words?  

And then how many of you - when you thought to pray; when you
thought to talk to God and bring God your requests; thought to
listen to God?  How many of you actually took the time to quiet
your hearts and your minds and to listen for a message -
for a word -
for a thought - 
for an impulse 
to come to you from the heart of the living God,
to come to you from the stirring of the Holy Spirit?

And then again - how many of you thought to talk to a brother or
sister in the Lord about your needs or your wants?  How many of
you thought to listen to a fellow believer  in an attempt to
discern God's will for your life?  In an attempt to hear if God
would speak to you through them -- knowing - as you do - that
where two or three are gathered in Christ's name - he is there
with you...

I know people, my friends, people who believe - and yet who are
so unfamiliar with the voice of Jesus - so unfamiliar with the
word of God - that they run each day to the astrology section of
their newspaper discover what is happening and what they should
do that day -- rather than turning to the Scriptures, and to
prayer, and to the indwelling Spirit of God for counsel and
advice.

I have believers who are so unused to listening to God, so
unaware of the presence of the living word in their lives - that
they consult the Ouija Board for messages and call up the
Psychics who advertise on Television for advice - rather than
seeking the wisdom of the saints who live among us in this
church.

What kind of belief is this?  To what flock do such people really
belong?

Even Satan believes my friends - that is what the word of God
says - he believes - and he has the good sense to tremble.  

He trembles because though he believes - he does not listen - nor
does he follow.  He trembles because he knows that God does not
make empty promises nor does he issue idle warnings.

     The works I do, said Jesus, the works I do in my
     Father's name testify to me; but you do not believe,
     because you do not belong to my sheep.  My sheep hear
     my voice, I know them, and they follow me.

The great test of listening my friends is in responding.

I believe that Jesus is the lamb of God - slain for the sins of
the world.

I believe that Jesus is the Good Shepherd - who laid his life
down for me.

And I want Jesus to watch over me - to protect me - to prepare me
a table in the presence of my enemies.

I even listen to his voice --
but does that make me one of his sheep?

No - it doesn't -
it doesn't until I actually respond to that voice,
till I actually try to do what it is calling me to do -
till I actually follow the one who is speaking.

     When Charlene's son Mark was younger and living with us,
     just about every day in the summer, at lunch time, at
     supper time, and at bed time, I go out on the front porch
     of our house and I holler for Mark to come home. 
     Charlene did the same thing - only she did it louder than 
     I could.  But neither her nor I knew that we had been
     heard until something happened - we did not know we had
     been heard till we heard the answering cry "I'm coming".

When we heard that cry - then we knew we had been heard - and we
were content - pleased - able to continue on doing what we had
planned to do knowing that Mark would be with us as we wanted him
to be.

When we didn't hear that cry - then we became anxious - worried -
wondering where he was - wondering if he were safe - and - after
a short while - after calling his name again and again - we would
go looking for him - we would phone people, we would get other
kids to search for him, we would tour around the area by foot and
by car looking - looking and calling..

We did what the shepherd does when the sheep goes astray.
We did what the shepherd does when the sheep don't come when he
calls.

I have asked you today if you are sheep that belong to the Good
Shepherd.  I have asked you if you know his voice and if you
follow him.

These are very serious questions my friends --- they are serious
because the quality of our life here and now is affected by
whether or not we have a relationship with the living Christ -- 
by whether or not we actually come when the master calls - by
whether or not we listen for his voice and strive to do what he
tells us to do.

The quality of our life here and now is affected - and the
quality of our eternity is affected.

Brothers and sisters 
- in the eyes of God each one of us belongs to his flock.

God  calling out to you.  God is searching for you.  God is
asking you to come to Him, to listen to Him, and to enter his
fold and be sheltered and made safe with the rest of sheep,
safe from the robbers and thieves who only kill and destroy 
safe from the evil one who would have you live in darkness and
despair all your days.

As parents call their children to themselves so that they might
bless them, so that they might instruct them and nourish them and
show them love, so God is calling you.

Listen - and follow - and you shall not want.

Listen and follow - and you will lie down in green pastures.

Listen and follow - and your soul will be restored.


LET US PRAY  -- Dear Lord God - I thank you for seeking me out -
as a shepherd seeks for his sheep.  I thank you for keeping me
safe - for standing with me in adversity -- and for blessing me
with all that I have.   Help me to listen more to you than I do
right now -- and give me the faith to follow you more perfectly. 
I ask it in Jesus' name.  Amen.


PROFESSING OUR FAITH: The New Creed	- VU 918
L	With the whole church - with the company of all the redeemed
	let us confess and proclaim our Easter faith.
P	We are not alone, we live in God's world...


PASTORAL PRAYER AND PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Lord God - you are holy and altogether too wonderful for words to
capture or for our minds to comprehend.  You have formed us, made
us, created us - and called us to union with yourself - to
fellowship with your Spirit - to peace and joy in your eternal
presence.  You have granted us a world - you have placed us in a
garden - and given to us companionship and responsibility.  Help
us God to be worthy of these things - make us both hearers and
doers of your word.... Lord hear our prayer...

Lord - there is much that is wrong in this world - yet we see
also in this world much that is right.  Revive your Spirit within
us that within us the right might prove to be stronger than the
wrong.  Make us people who will listen and obey.  Make us people
who are able by our listening and obeying to show forth your
blessings to others who are in need.  Lord hear our prayer....

Lord - we hold before the special concerns that are upon our
hearts this day -- the young man who is seriously ill -- the
family that has no faith to help them in their time of trouble -- 
the woman who does not trust and thus cannot share the pain that
is in her life -- the couple who have been seperated by age and
disease....  Lord hear our prayer....

Lord hear our prayer for others that we raise up before you
today...  (BIDDING PRAYER)....  Lord, hear our prayer...

Through Christ Jesus we come before you and ask all these things.
Amen.


MINUTE FOR MISSION	- DENISE


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS:  As the Offering is presented all stand 
for the Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) 
and Prayer of Dedication
         
    O God - you have poured out upon your people in this place the
    riches of both the world and of your grace.  Help us to share
    these riches - bless what we offer here today - may it be worthy
    of us and of what you have done for us.  We ask it in the name of
    Jesus Christ our risen Lord - Amen
 

* HYMN:  "To Show By Touch and Word"                           - VU 427


COMMISSIONING  In the power of the Holy Spirit, we now go forth
    into the world to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the
    body of Christ.
   
BENEDICTION
Go in peace, love and care for one another in the name of Christ
and know that God is your shepherd and that you are his people 
- and may God comfort you with his rod and his staff
- may you hear his voice calling to you and may you always respond 
- and may his love and his joy and his strength uphold you and be 
seen in you 
both now and forevermore.  Amen


THREEFOLD AMEN & CHORAL BLESSING: "Go Now In Peace"            - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2001 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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