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Weekly worship: Sunday 22 April

Fourth Sunday of Easter: The good entrepreneur

Shepherd in Zanan Bchuk, Iran

The good entrepreneur

Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18

This week, we're reflecting on:

  • Earth Day (today, the 22nd April), and the environmental impact of large-scale factory farming
  • The Good Shepherd, and what it really means to protect what you love and value
  • The 'loving example' of truth and action

 

Earth Day

Over half of the world’s population now lives in cities. That significant threshold was crossed in 2008, according to World Bank estimates.

It's entirely possible that there are some in your congregation who've never met a shepherd. No wonder: today's industrial-scale production of meat and wool is a far cry from the rural idyll portrayed in much Western art.

Rather than the gentle image of a softly smiling Jesus carrying a fallen sheep, the Good Shepherd of the 21st century probably roars around the hillside on a quad-bike.

 

The Good Shepherd: what it means to protect what you love and value

Although most of us live separated from the production of our food, and lamb comes wrapped in cling film, not wool, the underlying truth of Jesus’ image in John 10 remains: the hired hand has no ‘stake’ in the flock.

When danger appears, the hired hand puts their own safety first and runs away.

A modern-day equivalent might be the bored, disengaged office worker. Come 4:30pm, they're clock-watching and gazing out of the window - then they run for the door as the clock ticks round to 5pm.

The Good Shepherd, on the other hand, knows their own, and their own know them. The Good Shepherd has a ‘stake’ in the sheep - and willingly lays down their life to save them.

In our modern-day parable, we might see the entrepreneur working away at midnight. They're sacrificing sleep and home life to establish the company, and to bring employment into a community which desperately needs it.

 

Love in truth and action

In Psalm 23, of course, it is God the Creator who is the Good Shepherd. In John 10, it is Jesus.

The writer of 1 John 3 extends the image of the Good Shepherd who lays down their life out of love for the sheep. If Jesus laid down his life for us, and we call ourselves his disciples, then should we not have that same level of love 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.” (1 John 3:17-18)

We pray that none of Christian Aid’s partners will need actually to lay down their life for those whom they care for. However, Christian Aid’s work throughout the year is love in truth and action.

Pray

Good shepherd,

You laid down your life willingly.

May we, who have received so much life,

Follow your loving example.

Pointers for prayer

Pray for:

  • protection for Christian Aid partners who are working in places of conflict and insecurity.
  • Prospery Raymond, the Christian Aid country manager in Haiti who is visiting and speaking in several parts of the UK this week.
  • all those running the London Marathon for Christian Aid; that they know they're supported, and that they're making a difference to the lives of others across the world.

We are grateful to Tim Presswood, member of Christian Aid’s worship and theology collective, Baptist regional minister for the North West of England, and one of the duo behind dancingscarecrow.org.uk.