Worship at home: Jesus as shepherd, May 3, 2020

Please worship in a way that feels authentic to you. Perhaps alone, perhaps in a family group at home, perhaps in an online group that you put together. You can pick and choose which of these elements speaks to you this weekend, or you can make your way through the entire resource. Whatever you choose, know that God is near.


Worship at Home for the Second Sunday of Easter


Words for Centering/A Poem for Reflection

Our scripture this morning evokes strong feelings and imagery and reminded me of this poem of Wendell Berry’s. It offers the same balm I feel when I read Psalm 23 and think of green pastures, still waters, and the peace and wildness of nature. Allow your mind to wander and imagine that space as you prepare for worship this morning...


When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Photo by G. Roe, April 2020

Call to Worship


We gather today in our separate places, but we remain one in the Spirit.

From our living rooms, kitchens, or porches, we gather with our community.

We set time aside to worship together,

For we are bound through time and space by our Maker. For God is steadfast in their love.

God, our Rock and Redeemer.

We gather in remembrance of you,

And we hold fast to your commandment to love one another. Let us worship you this day.


Living our Covenant of Welcome


Write down the name of at least one person with whom you’d like to connect this week. Bonus points for actually calling/emailing/writing/social media-ing that person! Use #findingthespirit, #togetherinthewilderness, and #stpeterscarmel if you’re inspired.



READ| Scripture Gospel of John 10: 1-10 & Psalm 23


Psalm 23

(1) YHWH you are my shepherd—I want nothing more. (2) You let me lie down in green meadows; you lead me beside restful waters: (3) you refresh my soul. You guide me to lush pastures for the sake your Name. (4) Even if I’m surrounded by shadows of Death, I fear no danger, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff—they give me courage. (5) You spread a table for me in the presence of my enemies, and you anoint my head with oil—my cup overflows! (6) Only goodness love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in your house, YHWH, for days without end.


John 10: 1-10

(1) “The truth of the matter is, whoever doesn’t enter the sheepfold through the gate but climbs in some other way is a thief and a robber. (2) The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep, (3) The one for whom the keeper opens the gate. The sheep know the shepherd’s voice; the shepherd calls them by name and leads them out. (4) Having led them all out of the fold, the shepherd walks in front of them and they follow because they recognize the shepherd’s voice. (5) They simply won’t follow strangers—they’ll flee from them because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers.”


(6) Even though Jesus used this metaphor with them, they didn’t grasp what he was trying to tell them. (7) He therefore said to them again: “The truth of the matter is, I am the sheep gate. (8) All who came before me were thieves and marauders whom the sheep didn’t heed. (9) I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be safe—you’ll go in and out and find pasture. (10) The thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy. I came that you might have life and have it to the full.




Call to Confession

adapted from Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell, rev-o-lution.org


Prayer of Brokenness/Confession

Almighty God, we confess our frustration and our anger. We confess at times we should have held our tongue and didn’t. We confess at times we are distracted by things that will not matter tomorrow, and they consume our time today. We confess that in our uncertainty, instead of trusting in You, we turn to the voices of fear. Forgive us. Call us into accountability, to remind us that at times we say things online we would not say in person. Call us to repent, to turn to empathy and understanding, and to seek Your wisdom. In this world that has turned upside down, we remember that You are our Rock and our Salvation. You are what grounds us, keeps us steady, and will see us through. Remind us that You have commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves, even the ones who irritate us, for You loved us first, with all our faults and shortcomings. May we turn our hearts to You, and be filled with love for one another. Amen.


An Affirmation



Peace be in your heart. Peace be on your tongue, and know you are forgiven; seek to speak in love. Peace be in your gut, to calm the rage that you feel; channel your anger into positive work for justice. Peace be in your hands, to help those in need, rather than to harm those who’ve hurt you. Peace be in your soul, knowing that you are not alone. God is with you, in the friends who share their love with you. Peace be in your heart.

Peace be with you. Amen.



Becca has written a reflection as we wonder and imagine together the role of Jesus as a Shepherd.




Jesus as Shepherd: A comfort to us


One of my most vivid memories as a little child, perhaps even my first memories, were of Sam the Ram. Growing up we had pigs, guinea hens, dogs, cats, sheep, and one Ram--Sam. Under the watchful eye of my dad, I would ride on Sam’s back over our yard. (There are many pictures documenting this experience.) Sam was gentle and big and I have no memory of being afraid, despite his size and large ram horns.


Rebecca Lockwood, Associate Pastor for Missions and Education

Later on, long after Sam went to sheepy heaven, my dad would tell us stories about him. One such story has stayed with me these many years later and reminds me vividly of our scripture passage today. As I mentioned, Sam had big ram horns, so big and long that eventually they became a threat to his sight and eyes. One day my dad held him firmly and gently and “trimmed” his ram horns. The beautiful part of this story and memory, is that as my dad sawed away, Sam never flinched, not once. He knew, he sensed, what my dad was trying to do. He knew my dad was trying to help him. So despite the saw being very close to his face, he remained still.


I love the image of Jesus as a shepherd and we the sheep. It’s an image of comfort and familiarity to me; it reminds me of home and my dad. Over the years, many have portrayed sheep as mindless, witless, creatures. But that has never been my experience of them. Sheep are not creatures who blindly follow.


What happens is that the shepherd and sheep become almost symbiotic in a way. The sheep become attuned to their keeper’s voice, their touch, their tending. They would be able to pick their keeper out of any other. We hear these words in the Gospel of John. Jesus is inviting us into relationship with him and with God. We are being invited into the fold, to experience what it is to be loved and cared for, tended and protected.


Jesus as shepherd: A challenge for us

While this text is often a source of comfort, we would be neglecting our biblical exegetical muscle if we stopped there. In order to deepen and expand our reading and understanding of scripture, which is many and varied, it helps to put the scripture in context of its time and place. What was Jesus talking about? Jesus names in this passage that he’s using a figure of speech, a metaphor if you will, so on what is the metaphor reflecting?


One suggestion could be the Roman Empire. In that time, “peace” was won through violence, war, and oppression. The Empire didn’t exactly tend to its people or the people and cultures they acquired. It was an oppressive dominating relationship. It’s not exactly the poster-image for a gentle shepherd. Imagine what it would have been like back then to hear about a leader who was as gentle and caring as a shepherd is with their sheep. I imagine it would have been dream-like; an image of comfort not of this world. Jesus was born into this world to be in relationship with us. He came to show us what it looks like to be invitational and open...to let more into the fold. He showed us that the way into that life is through loving each other. He reminds us here that it is through love of the other that we have abundant life.


While this might be an offering of an alternative narrative and way of being that the Roman “pax romana” (peace of Rome through victory and conquer), it is also a reflection on our own oppressive systems still in place in the year 2020. We can see the disparaging gap between the “haves” and the “haves not” now more than ever. Privilege is so blatantly revealed in this time of pandemic that it cannot be ignored. Do we have enough to eat? Are we safe? Do we have internet access? Do we have access to devices that allow us to work or do e-learning from home? What does our home situation look like? Is it safe for us to be at home with those we live with? What about our mental health? Do we have access to therapy or medication?


And if the answer is mostly, yes, I am safe and healthy and tended to. Then our next question is this: how can I help those who are not? Part of what we are learning in this time is how essential and literally life- dependent we are on recognizing our interdependence. What happens to one of us affects all of us.


I see that so clearly in our scripture this morning. The sheep are not separate. They do not each have their own paddock; they move together. The shepherd while always looking out for the whole flock, is also particularly attuned to the most vulnerable in the fold. The sheep protect each other and the shepherd guides them to safety.


During this time we are called to care for each other--stranger and neighbor alike. That will look differently than it ever has before in our lifetime. It means maintaining distance. It means following new protocols. It means keeping the most vulnerable and their needs at the forefront of our minds. It is challenging and new; we’re not as used to this collective together thinking in our individualistic independent culture. But we are being led in this new reality, by the one who made us, the one who loves us, and the one who keeps us. So listen, listen for the Shepherd’s voice in the chorus of so many...and when you hear that familiar soothing voice, follow.

Prayers for Our Community & the World


Pray in whatever way suits you. If it makes sense to you, consider praying the Prayer of Our Creator to close this time of intercession.



Offering our Gifts


In the midst of challenging times, we find that we need the church community now more than ever.

Even though we cannot be in-person, the church continues to gather in spirit and offer support. If you are able, we humbly ask you to consider making a pledge to St. Peter’s for our next fiscal year. (email generositylead@stpeterscarmel.org or financialsecretary@stpeterscarmel.org with questions). Thank you!


You can give online here:



or text 73256 with the keyword CARMEL and an amount. Click the link sent in the reply to complete your gift. It will take about 2 minutes.


Mail your donations to 3106 E. Carmel Drive, Carmel IN 46033.


For Stocks and IRAs: Contact Financial Secretary Jenny Terry (financial@stpeterscarmel.org).


Sacrament of Holy Communion


(see Becca’s video to participate in Communion liturgy together) written and shared with abundance by Rev. Maren Tirabassi



For Holy Communion this morning,

we sanctify our time and many tables

for a sacrament never confined

to sanctuaries or precious surfaces —

carved with “Do this in Remembrance of Me,”

but always following

wherever one of God precious children,

like a sheep astray,

is lost or needs a guiding.


Christ is our shepherd.

In the loneliest lockdown,

we do not want for companionship.

In crowded families —

distance-learning and never catching breath,

we find an inner source of still waters.

In the soul-stretching days

of health care and emergency professionals,

decision-makers for others,

and essential workers with daily risk,

we meet a restorer of souls.


In the paths of tight-eousness —

assisted living, correctional facility, shelter,

immigration detention, nursing home,

housing for those who are simply poor —

we find a leader, a staff to lean on,

a rod that points a new way.


Christ leads us not around it,

but through the valley of the shadow —


and turns to us, as Jesus did when he came through

the walls of a locked room

in the afternoon of resurrection,

said, “Peace be with you,”

and then asked if they had anything

to give him to eat.


Give the gentle Shepherd who is the Risen Christ

your bread, your cup and your heart.


Prayer of Consecration

Becca/Leader: We have bread and cup and heart. Our church community is dispersed in distance but we are one in Christ. In your many kitchens, and living rooms, rest your hands lightly upon these elements which we set aside today to be a sacrament. Let us ask God’s blessing upon them and upon us and upon those who are in our prayers this morning.



Gentle Host, you prepare a table before us in the threatening presence of virus. You anoint our hearts, bless our bread and our cups overflow. Surely as we shelter in place we find both the goodness of community and mercy to those most vulnerable. Now and all the days of our lives we claim that this house — these many houses where we dwell and also our precious church building, are, indeed, the house of God.


Send your Spirit of life and love, power and blessing upon your children who are staying at home so that this Bread may be broken and gathered in love and this Cup poured out to give hope to all. Risen Christ, live in us, that we may live in you. Breathe in us, that we may breathe in you. Amen.


Words of Remembering


Becca/Leader: We remember the sharing of bread in many places — wilderness manna, tents and caves of shepherds, Abigail’s saddle bags, the lunch of a small boy, the fish of the disciples and the loaf of Emmaus. And we remember that Paul the apostle wrote letters to congregations throughout places we now call Greece, Turkey and Macedonia, and they were the first “remote” worship resources, including these Communion words sent to the church at Corinth:


For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.


A current map of Greece, Turkey, and Macedonia.
Source: Google Maps

Sharing of the Elements

Becca/Leader: Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Bread of Heaven.


Unison: We are one in Christ in the bread we share.


Becca/Leader: Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Cup of Blessing.


Unison: We are one in Christ in the cup we share. Prayer of Thanksgiving


Becca/Leader: Let us pray in thanksgiving for this meal of grace, rejoicing that, in the holy dispersion of virtual worship, we claim the risen Christ’s love is not limited by buildings made with human hands, nor contained in human ceremonies, and celebrating the God’s shepherding that carries us into the unknown, to listen and follow, to lead and be led, to feed and be fed.



Go from this day remembering that you are a beloved of God’s. Be safe. Love your neighbor (from afar). And remember that we are held and accompanied, even through the deepest valleys. Amen.


Our prayer mailbox at St. Peter's is full of mirros with the word "Beloved" written on it. Feel free to stop by and take a mirror with you, for comfort and rememberance.


Until we are together again....