Devotion & Formation for April 25

It is the fourth Sunday in Easter.  The Season of Easter still has four more weeks to go.  The liturgical color is white for the joy and importance of this season.  This Season lasts until Pentecost.  Because the Season of easter is a time of joy and celebration we add “Alleluia, alleluia” to the dismissals and their responses.

On Sundays in Easter, we do not read from the Old Testament.  The Book of the Acts of the Apostles (known as Acts) is read instead.  The Acts is a historical book about the early Christian Church and follows the Gospels in the New Testament.

This Sunday, the readings are focused around the idea of Jesus being the Good Shepherd. Our Readings are from Acts 4, 1 John4, Psalm 23, and John 10.

Bible Story: John 10: 11-18

11-13 “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He’s only in it for the money. The sheep don’t matter to him.

14-18 “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They’ll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd. This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father.”

Meditation: Unlike previous weeks, this Gospel reading takes place before Jesus’ death and resurrection.  We hear Jesus call himself the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep, which we know Jesus did. We are the flock, who will follow our shepherd.  Our shepherd loves us so much that he would give his life to protect us.

When I think of a shepherd, I think of someone who loves his animals.  He is careful to lead because he knows the sheep trust him.  He makes sure their needs are met and pets and cares for them.  He is careful to not ever betray their trust nor lead them astray. 

Jesus as our shepherd means he loves us in away that is bigger than we can love each other.  He leads us.  He knows each of us and knows who we are completely.  He knows what we need, what we want, and how to care best for us.  It means when life seems scary or dark or sad, that we trust him to take us by the hand and lead us to the light.  It does not mean there will never be times of sadness or fright or grief or sickness, but it means we have someone who will be there with us, who cares deeply, and who will do what it takes to help us get to the other side of what we are going through.

As a member of Jesus’ herd, we are to help each other, support each other and be with each other.  We may need to remind the other to listen and follow the Shepherd.  It may mean that we hold a hand and remind someone they are not alone.  It may mean we remind others that they are loved beyond their understanding.  It means that all belong to this herd and we accept them and help them.  It means that when someone does something that we are unhappy about, we remember that we are a family and forgive. Like sheep, we need our shepherd.  He is with us, even when we cannot see him or know he is there. He knows us inside and out and loves us.  Listen for his voice and be open to follow.

Prayer:  O God, whose Son, Jesus, is the good shepherd of your people: help us to hear his voice, help us to follow where he leads, and help us to help each other; who, with you and the Holy Spirit watches over us.  Amen.

Activities (choose one or more to do during the week.  For links, copy and paste):

  1. Discussion questions- What does a shepherd do?  How does God care for you?  How does God care for your family?  Who are the other “sheep”?  Where has the Good Shepherd led you?  What are the places that would be tough to follow? 
  1. Musical response- The Lord is My Shepherd https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qak_45mnZE0
  1. Craft response: Make a Paper Plate Sheep https://craftingthewordofgod.com/2014/02/26/paper-plate-sheep/
  1. Outreach/community service response: There are many “sheep” in need.  Go through your closets and give all outgrown clothing to a shelter and do the same with toys.
  1.  Activity response: Memorize Psalm 23. Try saying it at night before you go to bed.
  1.  In-reach response: Each day pick one person from your family and see what they need and help them.  If you have a younger sibling, read a book about Jesus to them.
  1.  Game response:  Play follow the leader taking turns being the shepherd.  Do it on a playground with slides and swings.  The leader makes sure no one is left behind.
  1. Watching the story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKtW_3yQXBw