The One To Follow

By 3rd May 2020Reflections

‘He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…’ (John 10: 3)

Read John 10:1-10

What makes someone a good leader? Often the only way we can answer that is by the results of the decisions that these leaders make but at other times we can form our opinions based on our perceived agendas and objectives of these leaders. Good leaders, we might imagine, would be those who at all times seek the best for the people they lead, those who seek peace and prosperity and a lifestyle that would bring a sense of purpose and joy to everyone. Whereas a bad leader would be one who pursues power, their own selfish agenda and puts their status and position above all else.  In his Gospel, John presents Jesus as the ultimate leader who loves and brings life to his followers, who, in turn, are called to lead and love those under their care. And he does so by referring to Jesus as the Good Shepherd who cares for every one of His sheep and who calls them by name and the gate through which they might enter to find life.

As Christians we too are effectively leaders, called by God to fulfil our vocation as Disciples of Jesus Christ. However, God’s call to us is more than just a vocation – discipleship to Jesus Christ should be the most important and fundamental thing in our life. It’s not just about the things that we say and do, the way we behave – it’s who we are! Our call and service to the Lord should be the one thing around which we build and live the rest of our lives. We will all be called in different ways to serve God, however, no matter what form that call may take it should be lived out in equal and complete commitment with everything else that is going on in our lives. Yet that isn’t always easy to do.

Sometimes we are discouraged and dissuaded because of other commitments – to family, friends, work colleagues – and a whole host of other reasons. We give so much of our love, time and energy to them that we cannot begin to see how we can respond to God’s call as we should. Sometimes it’s because of a sense of inadequacy – how can we possibly serve God, why would God call me? I don’t have any particular gifts or talents, I’m not the most suitable or most qualified person to serve God’s call in that way – there must be some mistake. Yet, still God calls us through His Son.

As Christians we have heard the voice of Jesus call to us and we have followed that voice and come to Him. But still today He calls us. And if we would truly heed that call then we also need to acknowledge that every single Christian is a leader in some sense, or should be, and as such we are all effectively called to be ‘good shepherds’. We are all called to lay down our own lives in some sense. Perhaps not physically in the way that Jesus did, but sacrificially, laying aside our own needs as we embrace the needs of others first. Called to lead others to Jesus Christ that they too may enter through that narrow gate and have that life to the full that only Jesus can give.

Lord as we give You thanks for all Your goodness, grace and mercy, we confess that all too often our hearts and our minds are focussed too much on ourselves. We fail to use the precious gifts you have given us to answer Your call and to serve You and proclaim the Gospel message, choosing instead the path of passive faith and keeping Your love to ourselves.

Lord, forgive us we pray and turn our minds away from ourselves and all our failings, and help us to focus on the forgiving life You have given us in Jesus Christ. Give us the energy and the diligence to serve You as we should and the self-discipline to see this through each day against all the temptations and obstacles that come our way. Help us to play our part in all we say and all we do to try and make this world a better place, a place where the saving love of Jesus Christ would be known by all.

And as we think of all the pain and heartache faced by so many as a result of this coronavirus, we continue to pray for all who have lost loved ones and for all who are ill at home or in hospital, particularly those know to us. May each one know Your hand upon them and know that they are in our hearts, thoughts and prayers. We pray also for those known to us and in our wider community who are facing other trials at this time and again would ask that You would be with them as only You can. And all these things we ask in Jesus name. Amen.

 

Sunday Evening – National Call To Prayer

As has been the case over the past few weeks, the leaders of all Churches have come together to call us to prayer at 7.00pm this Sunday evening. Underneath is a prayer by the leaders of all churches that could be used to begin this time of prayer. The full statement can be found on the Church of Scotland website where it also lists all those leaders whom signed that statement.

Good Shepherd, watch over us today
In all we face and experience.
Never leave us or forsake us
And journey with us always.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, you know us
As no-one else knows us.
Guard us and keep us,
As you guard and keep those whom we love.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, we pray for the sick and the lonely;
For the anxious and the bereaved;
For those whose pain is beyond our comprehension.
We stand with them and commend them to your care.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, we pray for the carers in hospitals and in homes
And for all who serve the needs of others.
May the example of living compassion
Inspire us in our care for others.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, you know the depths of our heart
And the fears which are ours.
Speak into the depths of our heart
And calm our fears.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, you know us by our name
And our identity is not hidden from you.
Gather us to yourself as a Shepherd gathers the sheep,
That we might know your Name.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Amen.