Family Time on a Sunday – 03 May 2020
4th Sunday of Easter
We have been thinking a lot about Jesus appearing to disciples and followers in the days and weeks after he came back to life at Easter. All this time he was preparing his disciples to go out and tell people about God and how to live with each other in the way that God wants us to.
If you were able join in last week, you may remember that we were thinking about what things we might see when we really look around and pay attention. What did you see? Today we are going to think some more about how much Jesus loved and cared for people.
Imagine you have a new pet at home – perhaps it is a rabbit. It is still very young and quite shy. It has come home to live with you. How might you look after it? What name would you give it? What kind of things might make it feel safe? (a secure hutch, food and water, keeping other animals away from it, protecting it from frightening noises, stroking it gently …..) There are lots of good ways of looking after it.
You may have noticed that shepherds and sheep come up in a lot of stories in the bible. Sheep were very common in the countries around where Jesus grew up and lived and everyone knew about the job of a shepherd. You might remember that in the Christmas story it was shepherds who first were told about the baby Jesus and who went to see him in the manager. Shepherds have a very important job keeping sheep safe, sometimes putting themselves in danger to chase away wild animals who might want to hurt the sheep. Jesus himself told stories about shepherds and sheep.
This is one of the stories that he told:
Jesus said, “Just look at the sheep in their sheep pen. Its stone walls keep them safe at night. No wolf can harm them. No robber can steal them. They’re safe as safe can be.” Can you see the shepherd? He’s sleeping in the gateway of the sheep pen. The sheep cannot get out. If they did, they might get lost or hurt. But the shepherd is like a gate, keeping them in the pen where they are safe. In the morning, the shepherd lets the sheep out through the gateway. He leads them to find good green grass to eat. The shepherd watches. Nothing can hurt the sheep. At night, the shepherd calls the sheep. They know his voice and follow him back to the sheep pen. He sleeps in the gateway so that nothing can harm them. They are safe as safe can be. Jesus said, “The gate keeps the sheep safe. God sent me to keep his friends safe for ever.” (From John 10: 1-15 – from Scripture Union, 2018)
Jesus was not really talking about sheep in the field but he was saying that he cared for people, like a shepherd cares for sheep. The people that he was talking about – God’s friends – are every single one of us.
You can watch a video of the story here:
Just as Jesus cares for everyone, he taught us that we should do the same. Can you think of some people who look after you (parents, grandparents or other grown ups at home, teachers, friends, nurses, doctors…)?
You might want to make a banner and draw pictures, or cut out pictures of people who care for others (for children, for sick people, for animals, for older people, for anyone else?). You might stick this up in a window if you have got space.
You might want to take the outline of the sheep and add some more bits to the sheep to make it look a bit different: good shepherds get to know their sheep and to recognise each one of them as an individual.
You might want to retell the story of the Good Shepherd, using the picture of the sheep pen and cutting out the groups of sheep on the side (perhaps these are the sheep who are at risk of wandering off at night and getting lost) and also cutting out the picture of the shepherd who is sitting on the ground (he is the ‘gate’ in the story!). Or you could make your own sheep pen, perhaps from an empty cereal box, and make your own sheep and shepherd.
(Photocopied materials reproduced with permission from Scripture Union, 2018).
A Prayer for today
Sometimes we are like sheep who need to be looked after.
Thank you for looking after us and for everybody in our lives who looks after us.
Thank you for our doctors and nurses, for our teachers, our friends and all of the people who care for us.
Thank you for the people who make us happy and the people who help us when we are sad.
Help us to be like Jesus and to care for other people, too.
God, we thank you for all brave and courageous people,
For all who rescue and help others in need.
We thank you for Jesus, the Good Shepherd,
As he rescues us.
(From David Adams, 2011)