Trust & Mercy

 May 2020 – The 4th Sunday of Easter 

This short act of worship has been prepared for you.  I invite you to share in a few moments with God.

Revd Martin



Psalm 23

The Divine Shepherd

A Psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 
2   He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters; 
3   he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
   for his name’s sake. 
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
   I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
   your rod and your staff—
   they comfort me. 
5 You prepare a table before me
   in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows. 
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
   all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
   my whole life long.


Our opening hymn has been recorded during the lockdown period, and consists of 64 voices singing in 64 different locations, and combined to form a virtual choir!




Hymn – Low in the grave he lay, Jesus, my Saviour

   1      Low in the grave he lay,
           Jesus, my Saviour,
           waiting the coming day,
           Jesus, my Lord:                      

   2      Vainly they watch his bed,
           Jesus, my Saviour;
           vainly they seal the dead,
           Jesus, my Lord:

   3      Death cannot keep his prey,
           Jesus, my Saviour;
           he tore the bars away,
           Jesus, my Lord:

                Up from the grave he arose,
                with a mighty triumph o’er his foes;
                he arose a victor from the dark domain,
                and he lives for ever with his saints to reign:
                He arose!  He arose!
                Alleluia!  Christ arose!

Robert Lowry (1826–1899)



We come, because we know we are welcome.

We come, because you call us by name.

We come together, to offer you our worship.

We come in the name of Jesus.

For your presence in our lives and the security you offer us….

For your life that enriches our life and the sense of belonging we share…..

For our place in the sheepfold…..

Great Shepherd of the sheep, we praise and adore you.


Generous God, you offer us abundant life, life in all its fullness, yet we always want more; you offer us security and sanctuary, yet we are determined to find our own way, despite the risks; you offer us guidance and direction, yet we ignore you and rely on our own strength.

We are sorry for our ingratitude and our arrogance.  We are sorry that so often we think we know best or can manage alone.  Help us to  hear and recognise your voice which calls to us through the background noise of every day, and may we take comfort, and trust in your presence.

Forgive us, renew us and restore us to abundant life in you, in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ. 




1 Peter 2: 19-25

19For it is to your credit if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. 20If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, where is the credit in that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. 21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. 
22 ‘He committed no sin,
   and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ 
23When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.24He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

John 10: 1-10

Jesus the Good Shepherd

10‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ 6Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

7 So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly


Hymn – The Lord’s my shepherd

   1      The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want;
           he makes me lie in pastures green,
           he leads me by the still, still waters,
           his goodness restores my soul.
                And I will trust in you alone,
                and I will trust in you alone,
                for your endless mercy follows me,
                your goodness will lead me home.

   2      He guides my ways in righteousness,
           and he anoints my head with oil;
           and my cup — it overflows with joy,
           I feast on his pure delights.

   3      And though I walk the darkest path —
           I will not fear the evil one,
           for you are with me, and your rod and staff
           are the comfort I need to know.

Stuart Townend (b. 1963)





Reflection –

The words of Psalm 23 are probably some of the most well known in the Bible.  They paint a picture of peace and tranquillity, of green pastures and gently flowing streams, of comfort, provision and protection from a God of love.  And that is all absolutely true. 

Whilst the image of green pastures is a comforting one, it can be an ideal rather than a reality for many people, especially at the current time, when fear and darkness may heighten the sense of isolation already imposed upon us by social distancing.

There may be many of you feeling that it is not fair that you cannot go about your daily lives as normal.  And no doubt, for those who have lost a loved one unexpectedly, and have not been able to be with them, there is an undeniable sense that life is just not fair, that suffering is indiscriminate, and that is fundamentally not fair.  The words above, written in the name of Peter, seek to address that concern of a lack of justice.  “What have I done to deserve this?” is a question I am often asked, and it is heart-breaking, because very often the answer is, “absolutely nothing”. 

The hard reality of life is that “good” people have strokes and develop cancers, get made redundant, have road accidents and experience the breakdown in relationships, in exactly the same way as everyone else.  Being good, being a Christian, is no insurance policy that ensures we avoid the challenges of life.  Psalm 23 does not paint a rosy image of life where nothing ever goes wrong, but reminds us that God walks with us, especially through the darkest and most fearful times of our lives.

In talking to his disciples, Jesus likens himself to a shepherd, whose sheep recognise him by his voice, and follow him, trusting him to lead them safely, and protect them from attack.  Our image of a shepherd might be a little different to that of Jesus’ disciples.  We imagine a shepherd who rounds up sheep and drives them from behind, whereas in middle eastern tradition, the shepherd leads the sheep from the front, and the sheep follow.  In this way, it is the shepherd who will be the first to face danger, and places himself bodily between it and his sheep.  The sheep can therefore follow, placing their trust in the one who leads them.

Trust - Reassurance

In what do we place our trust?  And can it fully protect us from the harm that will inevitably cross our path at some point?

It is now very apparent, how fragile life is, and how easily the fabric of life in which we have clothed ourselves, and placed our trust, has been shattered.  It is also equally apparent that what has survived is compassion, love and commitment.  Be that in the simple act of stopping in the street and talking to a stranger, or in the actions of key workers who place their commitment to patients and those they care for before their own safety.  However difficult life is at the moment, how much worse would it be if everyone had bolted their front door and refused to go out for fear of becoming infected themselves.  We owe many people a great debt of gratitude.

Jesus entrusted himself to the one who judges justly”, and why?  Peter explains, “So that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness”.

We are bombarded in life by voices, be it on television, members of our family, the sat nav in the car, telephone calls, the list goes on.  Some we listen to, others we filter out and ignore.  But Jesus, the shepherd, reminds us that those who hear his voice, and follow him, “will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture”.

Where is the pasture to which Jesus leads us?

Jesus modelled a way of life where he met with God, found his pasture, wherever he was, in quiet places, prayerful places, remote mountaintops.  As many of us are forced to engage with life at a different pace than we are used to, may we seek to meet God, and to refresh ourselves in his pasture, whenever, and wherever, we are.

Sabbath, on Sunday, is no longer the nationally shared event it once was, but as Christians, we are still commanded to take a day of rest, to reconnect with God, to walk through the lush grass of his pasture, and to dip our toes into those cooling still waters.

Where can your sabbath be found?

Intercessions & Lords Prayer

God of the peaceful pasture and babbling brook, we bring our prayers to you now. 

We hold a time of silence, as we allow ourselves to take your peaceful presence into our lives.




Lord of all, we pray for those who feel abandoned by life, who are desperately seeking something new, or are trying to run from what they fear…..

We pray for those who have lost their way, and don’t know where to turn, for those who need your guidance and comfort…..

We pray for our families and friends, and for all those in need at this present time

May your presence bring peace and the assurance that nobody is ever abandoned or left to fend for themselves.  May we hear your voice, trust in your will for us, and rejoice in your constant presence.



Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us


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.







Hymn – In heavenly love abiding

   1      In heavenly love abiding,
           no change my heart shall fear;
           and safe is such confiding,
           for nothing changes here:
           the storm may roar without me,
           my heart may low be laid;
           but God is round about me,
           and can I be dismayed?

   2      Wherever he may guide me,
           no want shall turn me back;
           my Shepherd is beside me,
           and nothing can I lack:
           his wisdom ever waketh,
           his sight is never dim;
           he knows the way he taketh,
           and I will walk with him.

   3      Green pastures are before me,
           which yet I have not seen;
           bright skies will soon be o'er me,
           where darkest clouds have been;
           my hope I cannot measure,
           my path to life is free;
           my Saviour has my treasure,
           and he will walk with me.

Anna Laetitia Waring (1823–1910)
Based on Psalm 23



Go out into the world.  Go where God leads you.  Go that you may serve him.  And wherever you go, know that God is with you.

And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you, now and forever more.






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