Why did Jesus tell the story about the lost sheep? Three reasons:
1. To show us how much God loves us
To show how much God cares for us. What does a good shepherd do for his sheep? He feeds them when they are hungry. He protects them when they are afraid. Jesus told the story about a shepherd and his sheep to show us how much God loves us. He also told the story,
2. To remind us that we are like sheep
Sheep easily get lost. And we can too. We go astray. We get into trouble. We get into all kinds of mess and we need someone to help us. Jesus says, a good shepherd searches for his sheep until he finds them. He celebrates with his friends when he finds them. Who has God sent to look after us? Every one of us has one. A mummy! Today we thank God for our Mummies for all they do for us. What are some of the things you want to thank your Mummy for?
They love us even when we are naughty.
They feed us when we are hungry.
They teach us to read and write.
They help us when we get into trouble.
They put us to bed when were tired.
So today we thank God for our Mummies. We all have a Mummy! Whether she lives near or far away, whether she is with us, or now lives with Jesus. God gave them the strong love they have for us, and the wisdom and the strength they need to look after us. Often it is our Mummies lead us to God, by their example, by bringing us to Sunday Clubs, and by their prayers. Today we thank God for our Mummies. So why did Jesus tell this story?
1. To show us how much God loves us!
2. To remind us that we are like sheep.
3. To reveal Jesus is our Good Shepherd
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me… and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:14-16).
So where are you in the story? Is Jesus your shepherd? Are you listening to his voice or not? Are you following Jesus or going your own way? Are you lost or found? If you want to know Jesus and be known by Jesus, say this prayer with me…
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me so much that you came to save me. I am sorry that I have gone astray. Thank you for laying down your life for me. Help me to know you, by listening to your voice and following your lead, for the rest of my life. Amen
Between Good Friday and tomorrow Easter Monday – that is four days – we the great British public (and some very nice Expats) will have consumed rather a lot of Easter Eggs. Do you know how many? If you put them in one big pile, how much would it weigh? Is it 260 tons of chocolate, 2,600 tons, or is it 26,000 tons. Yes its 26,000 tons. That is a lot of chocolate to eat in four days.
Do you know what the link is between the egg and Easter? It goes back to the time when chickens laid their eggs in the Spring, like sheep have their lambs. Easter marked the end of Winter and the Lenten fast. People celebrated Easter by feasting on things like new laid eggs which were traditionally scarce in Winter. It all got a bit confused when farmers realised they could trick chickens into laying eggs all year round by keeping them in light warm buildings,
and it got really confusing when Mr Cadbury in the 1870s realised there was more money to be made in selling hand-painted chocolate Easter eggs than real ones. Everything else is, as they say, history.
The encouraging fact, however, is that in a recent national survey, one in three people in Britain indicated that they believed in the historical and physical resurrection of Jesus. Whether they understand the purpose is another matter.
C. S. Lewis once said, “Easter is not primarily a comfort, but a challenge. Its message is either the supreme fact in history or else a gigantic hoax...”
This morning I’d like us to think about how the resurrection of Jesus is three dimensional.
Girls, this may seem like a strange question but in your circle of friends, are there any boys? And what about you boys? Do you have any friends who are, you know, girls? It may surprise you to know that although Jesus was a man he had many friends who were women and men.
He didn’t just have men disciples but women disciples too! The grown-ups are learning about some of the women that followed Jesus. And today we are thinking about Elizabeth. She was the mother of John the Baptist who was a kind of cousin of Jesus. There are 3 things we know about Elizabeth from the reading we just heard. Each of them begins with a B.
“Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.” (Luke 1:5-6)
Elizabeth was BLAMELESS
What does that mean? Was she perfect? No, but when she did something wrong, she said sorry and God forgave her. She tried to obey the commands in the Bible.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
If we want to be blameless like Elizabeth we need to read our Bible and do what God says. And if we get angry or impatient, or rude or sulk, we need to say sorry and God will forgive us. She was blameless.
See if you can think of the second ‘B’. Its not so obvious…
“Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth… When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. ” (Luke 1:13-14, 39)
Elizabeth was BOUNTIFUL
Not just because she was going to have a baby! But because she was blameless the Holy Spirit filled her to overflowing. She was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Her life showed the fruit of God’s Spirit especially toward Mary – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. You know the Holy Spirit wants to fill us so that we too can be bountiful followers of Jesus like Elizabeth. How can we be filled with the Spirit? Remember the verse we just looked at from 1 John?
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
This is how we become blameless and bountiful. Let me illustrate with this teapot…
We are all like a little teapot. God wants to fill us and use us to help others come to know and love him too….
Confession and Filling is as simple as breathing. Exhale bad air, inhale clean air.
Elizabeth was Blameless and Bountiful.
And because of that… she was…See if you can guess the third ‘B’ from the story.
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42-43)
Elizabeth was a BLESSING
Elizabeth was blessed by God and was a blessing to Mary and also baby Jesus.
How was she a blessing? She welcomed Mary into her home and looked after her for three whole months. Elizabeth was Blameless, she was Bountiful and she was a Blessing – and we can be too. What must we do? If we confess our sins God will forgive us, he will cleanse us and make us blameless. Then he will fill us with his Spirit to overflowing and make us bountiful, and then we can be a blessing to others.
Easter Family Service (2011)
How are you feeling right now? Are you worried that you might not find an Easter egg? Are you tired after a long week’s school holiday? Are you feeling guilty you didn’t make Mum her breakfast this morning? Are you pleased that you found a parking space and made it here on time? Are you a little nervous because this is your first time in Church? Are you joyful because its Easter Sunday and Jesus is alive? Feelings can have a powerful hold on us.
The way we feel can change the way we look, talk and act. The friends of Jesus had similar feelings after he died on the cross. His friends took his body and laid it in a cave. They were very sad. But their world was turned upside down three days later when they met the risen Jesus. Jesus was alive! What did this mean? Because Jesus rose from the dead four things he had said earlier must now be true. Here are some clues.
1. Jesus is the SON OF GOD. Because dead people don’t rise from the dead. He is both God and man in the same person (Rom. 1:4).
2. Jesus is our REDEEMER. Because he rose from the dead we can be sure his death was good enough to pay the price for our sin. He was right when he said he was the only way to God (John 14:6).
3. Jesus is our LORD Because he now rules over heaven and earth. We must obey him and do what he says (Matthew 28:18).
4. Jesus is our FRIEND. He died and rose again so that we too can live for ever with him. (John 15:14)
Lets think about some of Jesus friends and how they felt before and after meeting the risen Jesus. Who was the first person to meet Jesus?
Mary Magdalene. She went to the tomb to anoint Jesus body. Finding the tomb empty she wept. She didn’t recognise Jesus until he called out her name Mary. Immediately her tears were turned to joy. “I have seen the Lord!” she told the disciples.
What about Peter? How did he feel? When Jesus was on trail what had Peter done? Peter disowned Jesus. But when they met the risen Jesus by the Sea of Galilee, what did Jesus say to Peter? “Do you truly love me?” Peter was sorry and Jesus forgave him. Later, Peter wrote about it. (1 Peter 3:15).
What about Thomas? Thomas had not been with the other disciples when Jesus first appeared. When they told him, Thomas doubted. So Jesus came back a another time, just for Thomas. When Jesus showed Thomas his hands and his feet he cried, “My Lord and my God”. Thomas worshipped Jesus. Jesus said “Blessed are those who have not seen.” (John 20:29).
On another occasion Jesus met with all his friends. Many were afraid but Jesus said, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19) Jesus gave all his friends a new purpose in life. “Go and tell everyone about me. Make me lots more friends. Tell them everything that I have told you: How God wants to rescue them and make them feel safe.” (Matthew 28:18-20). And because they did, we are here today making more friends for Jesus.
Lets sum up what we have learnt about Jesus from his friends. Jesus is the Son of God He is our Redeemer, Lord and Friend. How has the story of Easter and the resurrection of Jesus changed your life? Whether you are already a friend of Jesus, or want to become one this Easter, we invite you to respond.
We invite you to express your desire to be a member of his family here at Christ Church. So that no one feels embarrassed lets all stand. Then silently, please respond in which ever way you feel appropriate. .f you want to become a friend of Jesus, I invite you to join me in this prayer.
I believe you died and rose again.
Thank you for dying in my place,
to take away my sin.
Thank you for giving me the gift of eternal life.
Thank you for wanting me to be your friend.
Help me to know you better and serve you for the rest of my life. In Jesus name. Amen.
If you already a friend of Jesus, please join me in renewing our commitment to follow Jesus and serve one another for the year ahead, using this Anglican declaration.
Christ Church Membership
By God’s Grace, and with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us, I will endeavour
To follow the example of Christ in home and daily life, and to bear personal witness to Him.
To be regular in private prayer day by day.
To read the Bible carefully.
To come to Church every Sunday.
To receive the Holy Communion faithfully and regularly.
To give personal service to Church, neighbours, and community.
To give money for the work of parish and diocese and for the work of the Church at home and overseas.
To uphold the standard of marriage entrusted by Christ to His Church.
To care that children are brought up to love and serve the Lord.
By God’s Grace, this is my desire for the coming year.
If you wish to be recognised as a member of Christ Church, please add your name and the date and return the copy of this membership form to the Church Office. We recommend you keep this leaflet in your Bible as a reminder of your membership commitment.
There will be wine and cheese tasting with a children’s treasure hunt. Free admission but donations welcome to help provide a well and permanent buildings for Goshen School in Uganda. In August a team will be going from Christ Church, Virginia Water to help with the well construction and extend the school.
For more information (and short videos) about how you can be part of this project see here.
Remember the last time you drank a glass of cool, clean, refreshing water? It tasted good didn’t it? And if you are like me, you probably didn’t even think about it.
For the last three years I have spent two weeks each January based at Kiwoko Hospital in rural Uganda helping to promote Christianity Explored and train local clergy and pastors to use the course. Kiwoko Hospital is situated at the centre of the infamous Luweero Triangle where hundreds of thousands of civilians were massacred in the 1980’s. It has literally brought life and hope to thousands of people.
Shadrach Luwago is the pharmacist at Kiwoko Hospital. He pastors a local church and also leads the hospital mission team. He helped translate the Christianity Explored course into Luganda and Swahili and trained thousands of pastors to use the course. He and his wife Nora also care for around 30 orphans in their own home.
A year ago Shadrach founded a much needed school in the nearby village of Nkondo. Goshen school has already proved very popular with 240 children registered. Besides needing additional permanent buildings (another story), their most pressing need is for clean water, and that is where you come in. The nearest safe water supply is 3 kilometres away.
I need your help to build a well for Goshen school and Nkondo village. It is going to cost £3,750 ($6,000) to survey the ground, dig the well and install a pump. Providing safe clean drinking water will significantly reduce mortality rates as well as sickness and disease for hundreds of people. Within a day we have been promised £1,200 which is a third of the way there.
A Ugandan based charity called Fields of Life which helps build schools in East Africa has the necessary drilling equipment. So all we need is £6,000 ($10,000). I have promised Shadrach I will raise the money by the end of August. I feel so strongly about this, I am prepared to take out a bank loan to cover any shortfall. Shadrach sent me this news update recently.
Greetings from Goshen family. Thank you very much for the email. I am sorry for the delay to reply this email. I have had problems with connections and many days after work i had to go to school to collect water for the kids with the pickup. The nearest water source is approx. 3 kilometres. Because at the school now we have 240 kids, it becomes very difficult to fetch enough water for all of them, especially during lunch time when it is very hot and every child after having lunch is thirst for some water. It is difficult for them to run 3 kms. to the well and 3 kms. back for the afternoon classes.
This is why i have to fetch for them some water for drinking and also for cooking, but because I go after work in the hospital, time does not allow me to fetch enough water for them. It is in the evening and everybody in the village is coming to fetch water so we have to queue. You can find over 50 jerry cans in a line. By the time they finish getting their water it is already dark. After class all the kids get their jerry cans and walk with a teacher to fetch their own water to wash.
Whenever it rains we use gathered water in the ponds but this kind of water is very polluted and makes many kids sick. right now we are looking for ways of getting drugs to deworm all the kids at school. Most of them are sick with worms.
We have even decided to buy a donkey as you can see in the photo with a plan of making a cart for it to be able to pull the cart with some jerry cans of water to bring to the school. Thank you very much for considering to support Goshen school and the people of Nkondo village as well.
So, will you help me? If you wish to make a contribution to provide safe clean water to Goshen school and Nkondo village, you can do so through Christ Church, Virginia Water, which is a registered charity. You can give via a Bankers Order Form or by cheque payable to PCC EPCCVW and send it to Revd Dr Stephen Sizer, Christ Church, Virginia Water, GU25 4PT, headed “Goshen School Well”.
You can watch a short video I made of Shadrach talking about his school. I also interviewed Craig Dyer of Christianity Explored and Jim McAnlis of Fields of Life about their involvement in Shadrach’s work.
You can also download a copy of this article for wider distribution.
Charities like Christ Church are able to reclaim basic rate tax (22%) on your donations if you are a UK taxpayer. This equates to approximately 28% of the gift you give us out of your taxed income. If you pay UK tax and have not already done so, please download and return the Gift Aid Declaration. If you are a US/UK dual taxpayer, please be advised that Christ Church is registered with the CAF American Donor Fund enabling you too to give tax-efficiently claiming Gift Aid in the UK while still benefiting from a tax deduction in the US. Click here for more details.
Do you like dancing? Hands up if you like dancing. Hands down. Hands up if you have never danced in your entire life? We all dance when we are children don’t we? Its natural?
But what happens when we begin to grow up? We begin to get self-conscious. We think we have two left feet. We worry about what other people might think. And we say “I can’t dance” which roughly translated means “I won’t dance.”
When do you feel like dancing? When you have something to celebrate? When there is some dance music playing? When other people are dancing? When you come to church? Hands up if you are comfortable with dancing in church? Any kind of dancing or only some kinds of dancing? Dancing is popular in many different cultures isn’t it?
Would you be comfortable with this kind of dancing at Christ Church? Hands up. How about this one? And this one? We all have different opinions don’t we? What matters? Why we are dancing? Are we dancing for the Lord? Or are we drawing attention to ourselves? I’m a little embarrassed to show you this picture, but I wanted to prove that I can dance too. Do you want me to show you? Maybe not… I don’t know what Joanna thinks, because she hasn’t seen the picture. It doesn’t really matter now because we have all our children …
In our Bible story David and Michal couldn’t agree on dancing either could they? What was the difference between King David and his wife Michal? Verse 16. He was dancing. She was despising. Why was David dancing? Why wasn’t Michal dancing? See verse 15-16. The text says “the entire house of Israel were bringing….” But they weren’t were they? David was worshipping. All the people were worshipping. But Michal wasn’t worshipping. She was watching. They were worshipping. She was watching. That is why she was bitter in her heart.
What was David thinking of? What God had done. What was Michal thinking of? What David had done. Who was David thinking of? The Lord not himself. Who was Michal thinking of? Herself, not the Lord. See how David replied to Michal when she criticised him when he came in for supper.
Read 2 Samuel 6:21-22. David was willing to humble himself before the Lord his king, in order that he be honoured by his subjects. Michal did not honour God or humble herself and that is why became sad and bitter. How can we apply this lesson? And that is why it doesn’t matter what kind of dancing we have at Christ Church. Or if we do dance or if we don’t.
It doesn’t matter if you do like dancing or don’t like dancing. It doesn’t matter if you do like singing or don’t like singing. It doesn’t matter if you do want to raise your hands or don’t want to raise your hands. What matters is our motive not our moves. What matters is not what other people think but what God thinks. The lesson here doesn’t only apply to dancing. It can apply to what we wear? Who did you get dressed for today? Who will you go to school for tomorrow? Who will you be working for tomorrow?
Who do you relate to most in our story? With David or with Michal?
The Apostle Peter learnt this lesson the hard way, after he boasted about what he would do for Jesus, before he understood all that Jesus would do for him: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)
Let’s make it our prayer today and maybe our memory verse for the week. So that whether we are dancing with praise to the Lord on the outside, we are dancing with praise to the Lord on the inside.
Have you ever been in a really bad storm? Howling winds, driving rain, rough waves? How did you feel? Scary wasn’t it? We don’t forget storms easily do we? I’ve only been in one really bad storm at sea. Crossing the English Channel on a ferry to France. Everyone on board was sea sick. It can get really rough on the Sea of Galilee too, very quickly because it has hills on three sides. It did on the night we’ve read about in Matthew 14.
“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side.” (Matthew 14:22)
Immediately after what? The amazing miracle of the feeding of 5000, it seems Jesus wanted his friends to learn a lesson. To trust him in the storms of life.
“When evening came, he was there alone, [on a mountainside overlooking the lake] but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.” (Matthew 14:22-23)
Jesus sent them on ahead, maybe to think about how on earth he had been able to feed 5000 people with a few rolls and fish. By the middle of the night all their energy was going into staying afloat and not with the fish. Then they got the shock of their life.
“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:25-27)
How did Jesus try and get them to trust him? First they saw him. Second they heard him.
“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)
Jesus wanted them to trust Him. If he could feed 5000 and walk on water Jesus could look after them in any storm. Jesus must have smiled when Peter cried,
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28-31)
Maybe Peter figured he was safer out of the boat with Jesus than in the boat without him. How did Jesus try and get Peter to trust him? As long as he listened to Jesus and kept his eyes on Jesus he was fine. But when he looked at the waves he was afraid and began to sink. He cried out and Jesus caught him.
“And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:32-33)
They were beginning to realise that Jesus was the Son of God. Notice what Jesus said to Peter “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31) Peter only had a “little faith”. By now Jesus expected Peter to have more faith. Why? Because of the evidence Jesus had provided. Now it is not about how much faith you have but who you place your faith in. “Faith” is simply another word for “Trust”. Jesus wanted them to trust him more and more, to grow in faith. How? Through what they saw (the miracles), what they heard (his amazing teaching) and what they touched (when he rescued them).
Then they would learn to trust him,
even when they could not see him, hear him, or touch him. Lets do a little experiment in faith building… [see, hear and touch]
Now we can’t see, or hear, or feel Jesus, so how can we trust Jesus in our storms of life?
1. We Hear Jesus through the Bible
God continues to speak to us about his wonderful plans and purposes for our lives through the living Bible.‘People do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ (Matthew 4:4) That is why its important we read the Bible.
2. We See Jesus in the Church
When we first put our trust in Jesus, we are born into a new family of brothers and sisters. “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Cor. 12:27)
We grow to trust Jesus more and more as we see him at work in other another, as we help each other discover his purposes for our lives, just as his first disciples did.
3. We Experience Jesus by His Spirit
Jesus has not left us alone. He sent his Holy Spirit to be with us, to live in us and help us to trust him through the storms of life. Jesus has not left us alone.
“The Spirit of God testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:14-16)
That is why, no matter what storms we may face this week or any time in the future, we can trust Jesus to be with us. For…
“we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
So let me ask you. Like Peter have you ever cried out, “Lord, save me!” Sooner or later we all recognise we need a Saviour. And like the disciples, we need to realise who Jesus is, worship him, saying “Truly you are the Son of God.” If you haven’t yet, don’t wait for a storm. Jesus wants you to trust him to be your Saviour and friend today and everyday.
And if you have already trusted in Jesus, are you growing in your relationship with him? Are you trusting him a little more and more each day, so when the big storms come you will not be afraid? Get to know him better.
How? Hear Jesus speak to you through his Word. See Jesus at work in and through his Church. And trust Jesus to guide you moment by moment through his Holy Spirit. Lets ask him right now.
(talk given at the annual Virginia Water Cubs and Scouts service and annual Christ Church School Thanksgiving service)