Guide for Worship
May 3, 2020

Welcome to worship!

Today our worship presents us with an opportunity and a challenge: how do we continue to live in light of Easter, living as Resurrection people, in light of our changed context? How do we live as free and faithful people, knowing all the while we need God to provide us safety and protection? What does it mean to have life in abundance when currently life presents us with so many limits?

As we continue our journey from Easter, there is perhaps no better time than today to consider how we might hear the resurrection message in a fresh way, to listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd reminding us of where He is, and where He wants us to go. Listen closely, and you will hear His very voice…

We will focus our worship around two very familiar passages of scripture this week, Psalm 23 and John 10:1-10.

 

Centering Music and Preparation

We begin our time of worship by centering ourselves on the presence of God. Psalm 23 is a very familiar passage, and we usually hear it our darkest moments: times of grief — funerals. The words of the psalm are a powerful testimony that, despite the fears and challenges which surround us, we can rely on the certain presence of God. The language and imagery are very relevant to Easter as we consider how we live in relationship with God in the light of the resurrection: “Even though I walk through the valley…”. The psalm’s statement of trust (“The LORD is my shepherd”) is also a preview of Jesus’ own words in John 10 (“I am…”).

Begin worship by meditating on this simple question: Who is God for you today? What is God like? What images and thoughts give you guidance, connection and comfort? Listen to the musical setting for the psalm below, and hear the words of the psalm in a fresh way as you prepare your spirit for worship.

At the conclusion of the song, share your reflections. If you are worshiping on your own, write or journal about who God is. Talk about it with a friend over the phone or with a family member. Share your thoughts today on a social media page. Who is God for you today?

 

In Heavenly Love Abiding

Sing out! Sing of our trust in God! This hymn recalls the words of Psalm 23 — let your voice ring out with trust and confidence in God as shepherd, companion, and host.

In heavenly love abiding,
no change my heart shall fear;
and safe is such confiding,
for nothing changes here:
the storm may roar without me,
my heart may low be laid;
but God is round about me,
and can I be dismayed?

 
Wherever he may guide me,
no want shall turn me back;
my Shepherd is beside me,
and nothing shall I lack:
his wisdom is forever,
his sight is never dim;
His will forms each endeavor,
and I will walk with him.
 
Green pastures are before me,
which yet I have not seen;
bright skies will soon be o’er me,
where darkest clouds have been;
my life I cannot measure,
my path to life is free;
my Saviour has my treasure,
and he will walk with me.

Yates on Mission: SonShine Class Spotlight

Today is SonShine Sunday, and though we are not together, it is important that we acknowledge this group of adults who journey with us in faith and discipleship. We are grateful to the leaders: Hal Burch, Harriet Carter, Winslow Carter, Donna Douse, Warren Jones, Stephanie Judd, Gail Killough, Kathy McInnis, Linda Miller, Glenda Poindexter, Richard Poindexter, Ed Thomas and Estelle Thomas. The SonShine class has long provided us with a grounding in community with adults who are always learning and growing.

Celebrate! Below, find a video that explores some of this ministry and the people involved in it.

Scripture Reading: John 10:1-10

As we continue to worship, SonShine class member Dana Bernstein reads our second passage of the day. In the passage, we see that Jesus is simultaneously the gate and the shepherd, guarding and protecting His sheep from danger and providing for their nourishment. In it we are reminded that while hearing the voice of Jesus does not always happen easily, He will never abandon us.

Response Through Giving

Nyssa Collins – My Shepherd Will Supply My Need

We encourage you to give your offerings online through Pushpay here, through the Yates app, or by mail (2819 Chapel Hill Road, Durham, NC, 27707). We are growing into new ways to be the church together and your giving allows us to keep being the church, even in the absence of our physical presence.

 

We are also encouraging you to give toward our Easter mission offerings (Annie Armstrong Easter Offering or CBF Offering for Global Missions.) You may select these options when you give online, or include a notation on a memo line if you are mailing a check.

 

 

Meditation

The Master’s Voice — Christopher Ingram

 

Listen to the sermon using the player above, or click this summary to read the complete text. An archive of this and other sermons is found on the Yates sermon page.

One of the iconic images of 20th century media is drawn from an oil painting by Francis Barraud from 1895, titled “His Master’s Voice.” The subject of the composition is Nipper, a white terrier mix from Bristol, England, looking into the bell of a wind-up Edison-Bell cylinder phonograph. The puppy’s head is cocked curiously toward the device, recognizing the sound but trying to determine the source.

The 19th century image seems slightly out of place in this age of digital media, but most everyone can still recognize it. Early on, thinking the Edison-Bell Company might find the image useful, Barraud presented it to James E. Hough, one of the founding executives of the company. The lack of imagination in Hough’s response is telling: “Dogs don’t listen to phonographs,” he said.

Maybe not. But this one does! I think there are many insights in that rich image, but I want to lift only one up today. It is this: no matter where you hear it, the voice you’re listening for is unmistakable to the ears trained and tuned to its sound.

Our scripture readings today speak of our relationship with God, and with God in Christ. There are many ways to imagine that relationship. The image for today is of a shepherd and sheep. We might be so familiar with this picture that we might miss its significance. Modern industrial farming has taken us far from the sources of the food we eat and the clothes we wear. Not so in the ancient world. The Israelites were a pastoral people and there were many shepherds among them. It is work that is up-close, personal and hands-on. The shepherd would go to great lengths to guide, feed and protect a flock.

Many important biblical figures were shepherds: Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, and the prophet Amos to name a few. A Psalm that sings, ”The LORD is my shepherd” is saying a whole lot about God and us.

That name, “The LORD,” is the personal name of God, usually translated in all capital letters: LORD. The Hebrew is derived from to the verb “to be.” God’s desert revelation to Moses in Exodus 3:14 gives us shorthand to translate God’s personal name as “I am.” What a name! Like Moses learned, our shepherd is the God who is.

Today, we hear Jesus teaching about himself by telling a story of a shepherd calling sheep who recognize and respond to the voice of the one they trust to lead and care for them. This shepherd is a contrast to others who prey upon the sheep for their own purposes. Jesus’ audience doesn’t understand so he changes metaphors and then makes it plain in verse 14, saying: “I am the Good Shepherd.” Jesus identifies with the Great I Am, and he’s teaching about his unique relationship to his flock.

Jesus’ sheep are gathered in a community sheep pen, a common feature of rural village life. Several flocks are housed together. The sheep from various flocks may intermingle, but the shepherd does not separate his sheep by walking through the pen. Instead, the shepherd stands at the gate calling their names. As the sheep pass through the gate and gather outside, the shepherd leads them to green pasture and still water. It is a wooly, bleating picture of discipleship and salvation.

We live in times when we are divided about who best cares best for us. We are concerned with discerning the right voices to guide our personal and community decisions. How long do we stay at home? When can we go back to work? How can we open back up? For goodness sake, when can our church be together again and do more good than harm? For every question, there are half a dozen answers. We want clear speech and we want to trust our leaders, but hardly ever dare to.

How many of us hunger for an experience like Mary near the empty tomb? She hears a voice call her name and she knows in an instant whose it is. “My teacher!” she cries. Wherever that voice leads, wherever that voice sends, she’ll go.

I think this is just an unvarnished version of the longstanding competition for our ears. Our lives are lived in the context of many calling out for you, your family, your resources, your loyalty, your soul. Many are compelling, but which ones shall we trust?

At this point, I think it’s important to notice how the sheep are called and led. They are not driven and prodded. This is a customary practice of ancient middle eastern shepherding, but it speaks powerfully of the relationship Jesus makes with us. We sometimes think that the best way to motivate people is to push, provoke, bully or force them along. We also know whatever short-term
effectiveness this brings is lost in long-term health and commitment. How many movements fall apart the moment the leader pushing them stops pushing? And how many well-intentioned followers fall away, or run away, when they feel like all there is to look forward to is more coercion?

The voice of the Good Shepherd is one that reflects the loving voice of God speaking into our confused lives. The voice of the Good Shepherd is the voice of One who chooses to lay down his life for the sheep. It is the voice of Jesus. Do you know his voice?

Like little Nipper listening for his master’s voice, that comes when our lives are trained and tuned to recognize one voice among many. We can trust that voice because it calls out, not to steal or kill or destroy, but to give abundant life. That voice belongs to One we can love because he first loved us. You will hear it in the words of Scripture, in your times of honest prayer and worship, as we serve one another, and in words and deeds of women and men who share your commitment to hear it above all else.

Hearing Jesus’ voice does not always happen easily even for those who are closest to him. But remember this Good News, we listen for a Shepherd who keeps calling and a flock that, together, strains to hear that voice that leads to life. And so, today, we share the ancient song once more, now filled full of meaning in Jesus, and hear a voice calling with assurance, promise and hope:

23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

 

Benediction and Intercession

As we close our worship today, our Deacons offer a prayer of thanksgiving and intercession. Pray with us…