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Collect and Readings for Sunday 25th April 2021 Year B Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13, Psalm 23, 1 John 3.16-end, Acts 4.5-12, John 10.11-18

The Prayer for today
Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life: raise us, who trust in him, from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, that we may seek those things which are above, where he reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Being imprisoned for the night may not look much like an opportunity, but in fact it provides the perfect opening for Peter and john to speak out about the power of Jesus who, though crucified, is now alive for ever. We heard last week how they had already been able to use healing to preach the good news to the crowds, bringing the number of believers to about five thousand. Just as Jesus had said would happen, they are given the words to say when asked to bear witness to the truth.

It is quite easy, to make a point of not talking much to God about being given opportunities, in case he takes us up on it! And to ignore or side-step such opportunities when they do happen.
All too easily do we persuade ourselves that we are not meant to force-feed people, or put them off by actually talking about God's involvement with lives and events. Certainly ramming God down people's throats is both unloving and counter-productive. But there is a great danger of using this as an excuse for avoiding the work we are commissioned to do, in many situations where people lose out on the blessings of forgiveness God longs for them to enjoy, simply because we chicken out of passing on the good news.

In the Gospel, we hear the well-loved and treasured words of Jesus, describing himself as the Good Shepherd, the one who gathers the flock and tends the sheep, looking after their needs and leading them safely. In contrast to the hired worker, the authentic shepherd is even prepared to lay down his own life for the protection of the sheep. And that is good news worth passing on, at whatever cost to us. John reflects on what it means, and how it expresses incredible love – the willingness to lay down one's life for one's friends.Quite simply, it makes clear that Jesus was not forced into dying; it would have been possible to avoid it, right up to the very last breath. There had been the temptation to do so at intervals throughout his ministry, and even as he hung dying he was goaded to 'show his power' by coming down from the cross. It was then, at the moment of greatest weakness that Jesus actually showed his greatest strength of love.

And that is often true for us as well. Weakness feels just that; without glamour or nobility or anything other than recognition that we have no strength of ourselves to do any more; yet it is in living through such times in God's strength that others turn out to be blessed and God's name to be glorified. If only we will trust God at such times, who knows what sheep will be rescued?

Alleluia, Alleluia, Christ is Risen. Let's help God rescue the sheep.

God bless and stay safe and well

Rev'd Fiona Robinson

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