You are here3rd May 2020

3rd May 2020


By Ian Cardinal - Posted on 01 May 2020

Readings for Sunday 3 May

Psalm 23 Acts 2: 42-47 John 10: 1-10

“Why do clergy wear a dog-collar,” children sometimes ask. I’ll admit that I tell them it’s because “Jesus is the Good Shepherd and so they act like a sheepdog, keeping the flock together for him”. It’s less complicated than telling them that shepherds of the Bible didn’t have sheepdogs. (I tell adults it’s because, whatever clergy do, we’re always “in the doghouse!”)

In Israel sheep weren’t raised for meat, they were kept for their wool, so over its 10-12 year lifespan the shepherd would know every single sheep in his flock as an individual, as if by name. He was completely responsible for each one of them, for all their needs. Every day he had to find green pastures to graze on; he had to keep seeking out still pools of water for them to drink.

With no sheepdog, he’d lead the way and the sheep would follow the voice they recognised from birth, as he called to them. That leading meant that he was always the one who walked first into any kind of danger and he had to risk his life protecting them against wild animals … or rustlers!

Knowing them individually, every one of them mattered to him. He’d be so concerned if even one went astray, that he’d search for it even at the risk of his life, to rescue it and bring it back to the safety of the flock. (Jesus would go on to tell a parable about that: comparing it with how God is concerned even for one “lost sheep”.)

Often flocks would mingle with one another, with herds of goats too. But at the end of each day, when it was time to return the sheep to their separate folds, each shepherd would call to his sheep – and the sheep recognised the voice of their carer. As St John’s Gospel says: “… he calls his own sheep by name … he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

The Bishop, with his shepherd’s staff to remind him of his role as guide and protector of his flock, in turn hands to his Priests that same ‘cure [care] of souls’ for a small part of the flock, in our case at St Michael & St Wulfad’s and at St Saviours.

At this moment, however, the flock is deliberately dispersed. Our local shepherds are imaginatively doing a valiant task in bringing us to worship in a new way, via websites and Facebook, so that we can offer our prayers (not overlooking reasons for praises too). Thank you, all the ministry team, for doing that.

So we now worship together, separately.

What can’t be provided is the experience of being together as a flock. We hear the familiar shepherd’s voice but miss each other. We wonder how others are, how are they coping? But we don’t know where they live, don’t know their phone number, or their email address, or in many cases anything beyond their Christian name; yet we are still concerned for them. We care.

The Good Shepherd wasn’t tied up by Data Protection laws forbidding him to disclose anyone’s phone or email details. I wonder, though, whether individually we might voluntarily agree to our contact details being shared solely among these congregations, so that our prayers for the benefice could be converted into the occasional phone call to provide fellowship?

Michael Harding (church@mdharding.org.uk)

The Collect for this week

Risen Christ, faithful shepherd of your Father’s sheep:

teach us to hear your voice and to follow your command,

that all your people may be gathered into one flock,

to the glory of God the Father.

Amen

Prayers

We pray to Jesus who is present with us to eternity.

Jesus, light of the world, bring the light and peace of your gospel to the nations and their leaders that we may trust in you to lead us through these troubled times.

Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, bread of life, give food to the hungry and nourish us all with your word. We pray particularly those families who are struggling in this time of limited employment and absence of school meals

Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, our way, our truth, our life, be with us and all who follow you in the way, help us to discover new ways of reaching out to one another, to those who don’t yet know your voice, to those without access to the internet. Deepen our appreciation of your truth and fill us with your life.

Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, Good Shepherd who gave your life for the sheep, recover the straggler, bind up the injured, strengthen the sick and lead the healthy and strong to new pastures. Bring healing to those who suffer and comfort to those who mourn.

Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us

Jesus, the resurrection and the life, we give you thanks for all who have lived and believed in you, remembering with gratitude all those who have walked with us towards paths of righteousness. Raise us with them to eternal life.

Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us,accept our prayers, and be with us always.

Amen

Our weekly prayers of intercession

Please pray for the sick in the benefice:
Mary Townsend, Elsie Richardson, Vera Tomlinson, Neil & Pat Wynne, Gary Kelsall, John Richardson, Peter Bowler, Catherine Ritchie, Graham Baker, James Astle, Miles Brain, John & Ann Shuttleworth, Margaret Wright, Gren Deakin, Molly Wright, Norman Latham, Mary Leigh, Gillian Wright, Carl Hartley, Don Flinders, John Hargreaves, Pauline Bevans, Roger Snowden

For the recently departed, remembering their families and friends at this time: Terry Eade, Hilda Webster, Robert Rowlands, Elizabeth Collings, Ian Ratcliffe, Glynis Rutherford

And those whose year’s mind falls in this month:

William Edward Hollins 1984 Leonard Powell 1984 Reginald Sutton 1987 Arthur Frederick Preston 1987 Ivo Douglas West Knowles 1985 Edith Wright 1986 Violet Isabelle Knowles 1993 Elsa Newton 1972 William Hartley Norman Scotton 1997 John Dowsett 2000 Wilfred Harvey 2001 Margaret Tonkinson 1987 Arthur Tonkinson 1999 Douglas A. Brassington 2003 Ruth Babb 2007 Cecil Albert Walker 2003 Veronica Mary (Bunty) Beechan 2013 Patricia Ann Scott 2016 Doreen Smith 2019

If you would like any names to be added to this list, please email rector.stone@gmail.com or ring Revd Ian Cardinal on 01785 812747

St Michael & St Wulfad and St Saviour Church Cycle of Prayer for our benefice

Church St, The Coppice Estate, George Rd, Hempbutts, High St, Mill St, Morrisons, Crown St, Joules Court, St Michaels Close, Lichfield St, businesses in High St and Mill St. Priory Estate, Abbey St, Lichfield Rd, Grange Rd, Millwalk, Shepley Close, Redlands, Brookfield Court, Pingle Lane, Ridgeway, Flax Croft, Westover Drive, Parkhouse Drive, Aston Lodge Park, Aston

Stone Golf Club, Stone Cricket Club, Community Fire Station, Trent Clinic, Doctors Surgeries, Dental Surgeries, Pharmacies and all the staff, St Michaels First School, Pirehill First School, Manor Rise, Walton Priory, The Moorings, Summerfield Court, Autumn House

Week 4

Walton Grange, Stafford Rd, Stafford Close, Stonehouse Hotel, Stone Business Park, Aldi, Farms within the parish, Eccleshall Rd, Cherryfields Estate, Walton Way, Walton Community Centre, Whitemill Lane and Air Ministry Estate

Week 5

Pirehill Lane, Beacon Rise and environs, Longhope Rd, Fillybrooks, Residents on A34, Udell Grange, Anwyl Homes, Sweepers Ave, Blundell Drive and environs, Common Lane, Crestwood Drive, Foxwood Close, Tilling Drive

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