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Sunday, 3 May 2020

Audio files are available to hear on "The Message" on this website.


 Fresco, Christ as the Good Shepherd, Catacombs of Rome

Dear Friends

The Gospel reading for today (John 10:1-10) is taken from the ‘good shepherd’ discourse which is found in John 10:1-30.  We read a section from this discourse each year on the fourth Sunday of Easter, which has thus come to be known as ‘Good Shepherd’ Sunday.  The entire discourse provides an extended meditation on the ‘I am’ sayings in which Jesus confirms that he has been appointed by the Father as guardian and protector of the entire community of faith.

‘The one who enters by the gate (of the sheepfold) is the shepherd of the sheep , , , he leads them out and the sheep hear his voice.  He calls his own sheep by name’ (John 10:5-6). In contrast to the hired man who is a stranger (or even a thief or bandit), the sheep follow Jesus, whose voice they recognise. 

In John 10:7 Jesus likens himself not only to the shepherd but also to the gate of sheepfold – in ancient near eastern cultures this often amounted to the same thing, since shepherds lay down at night across the gap in the stone enclosure in which the sheep were kept for their safety – and promises that those who enter the fold through him will be saved.  John 10:11 emphasises the sacrifice that the good shepherd will make to protect his flock (‘I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep’).  And later in the discourse, there is a promise that other sheep are to be brought into the fold (‘And there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and I must lead these too’), so that these also may inherit the eternal life which is to be bestowed by the good shepherd (‘I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will steal them from my hand’).

These are moving and powerful images which clearly resonated for the early Christian communities – some of the most ancient images of Christ (for example, those in the catacombs of Rome, or among the mosaics in Ravenna) depict him as the good shepherd.  He is usually shown as quite youthful, carrying on his shoulders a sheep which has been rescued (echoing the parable elsewhere within the Gospels of the ‘lost sheep’).  Again, the emphasis is upon the self-sacrificial love of the shepherd who spares no effort to ensure that the one who has gone astray is not abandoned but brought back to safely.

And these images surely continue to provide inspiration and reassurance for us today, especially, but not exclusively, during times of trial such as the one which we are currently going through.  We have Jesus’ promise that none will be lost (‘none can pluck me from thy hand’ as the hymn puts it) and that we can trust him to guide us into the fullness of eternal life.

Fr Stephen

Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

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 lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.  Amen.

Acts 2:42-47

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles

Many were baptised and were added to the community.

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship,
to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Awe came upon everyone,
because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles.

All who believed were together and had all things in common;

they would sell their possessions and goods
and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.

Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple,
they broke bread at home
and ate their food with glad and generous hearts,

praising God and having the goodwill of all the people.
And day by day the Lord added to their number
those who were being saved.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;

he revives my soul
and guides me along right pathways for his name's sake.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,  they comfort me.

You spread a table before me
in the presence of those who trouble me;
you have anointed my head with oil;
and my cup is running over.

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.

1 Peter 2 19-25

A reading from the first letter of Peter.

Brothers and sisters:

For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God,
you endure pain while suffering unjustly.

If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that?
But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it,
you have God's approval.

For to this you have been called,
 because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example,
so that you should follow in his steps.

"He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth."

When he was abused, he did not return abuse;
when he suffered, he did not threaten;
 but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross,
so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness;
by his wounds you have been healed.

For you were going astray like sheep,
but now you have returned
to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Gospel John 10:1-10

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.

Jesus said to the pharisees:

 "Very truly, I tell you,
anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate
but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit.

The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.

The gatekeeper opens the gate for him,
and the sheep hear his voice.
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

When he has brought out all his own,
he goes ahead of them,
and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.

They will not follow a stranger,
but they will run from him
because they do not know the voice of strangers."

Jesus used this figure of speech with them,
but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them,
"Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.

All who came before me are thieves and bandits;
but the sheep did not listen to them.

I am the gate.
Whoever enters by me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Service Times

First Sunday in the Month:
10:00am Family Service

Second Sunday in the Month
10:00am Parish Eucharist

Third Sunday in the Month
08:00am Holy Communion (said)
10:00am Sung Matins

Fourth Sunday in the Month
10:00am Parish Eucharist


  • The 8:00am said Holy Communion will recommence for all Sundays beginning Sunday 2nd May 2021

  • Variations can be found in the Parish Magazine or the Calendar at the bottom of this page.

Useful links

Here are some links to resources you may find helpful:

  1. Chichester Cathedral will be live streaming services. For the Eucharist and order of service Click here before 10:00am Sunday and follow the instructions.
  2. The BBC Daily Service is available here.
  3. Prayer for today.
  4. The C of E youtube channel.
  5. Hearing You is a new phone help line launched by the Diocese of Chichester in partnership with Together in Sussex in response to the impact that Covid 19 has had on Just about the whole community. It aims to provide pastoral support and a listening ear to the recently bereaved and people directly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  6. COVID-19 advice from the Diocese of Chichester here.

Please note that St Mary's are not responsible for the contents of external links

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