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Worship Preview: April 21st, 2024 4th Sunday of Easter

First United Methodist Church         

        

This Sunday: 10:30am – “Easter People: Lambs of the Shepherd” 4th Sunday of Easter

Scriptures – Acts 4:5-12,   Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16-24, John 10:1-18, 

 

We continue our journey through the Easter season and encounter one of the most beloved images of God, that of the Good Shepherd. The readings from Psalm 23, John 10, and 1 John 3 all use this wonderful and comforting metaphor. God leads us, God provides for us, God sets our boundaries. Jesus is no “hired hand” but our foremost protector – even if that means “laying down his life.” This is God’s steadfast love made manifest. As we ponder that message, we also hear from Peter again in our reading from Acts 4. In these scenes shortly after the resurrection, Peter is again “filled with the Spirit” and now speaks boldly after being arrested for the commotion around a man who was healed back in Acts 3. We heard the immediate aftermath of that story last week and I made the point that Peter’s speech contains a bit of overstatement and scapegoating. Peter seems to forget that he also fell short and denied Christ. Our texts spoke in some harsh absolutes, and we can see that again this week. Sometimes we read Peter’s words “there is no other name… by which we must be saved” and morph it into “everyone who doesn’t worship exactly like “we” do isn’t saved.” I think it is important that this reading is paired with Jesus’ speech in John 10. There Jesus describes himself as “the gate” to the sheepfold. Theologian Eric Law takes that image and says that it is Christ who is the “boundary function” – thus not us or our theologies, doctrines, or opinions. Jesus goes on to tell his disciples he has “other flocks” – they and their understanding (and misunderstandings) do not control or contain God’s love revealed in Jesus. We will ponder what that means and how we respond in faith – and we will do so in the context of affirming our faith in Christ as our Shepherd and Savior and celebrating the baptism of one of God’s newest “little lambs.” I am honored to preside and the share with this family the living waters of Christ – including some I have the privilege of collecting from the Jordan and Sea of Galilee on a trip in 2016 – and to share an important insight about God’s grace these waters, as well as water from here in Fort Scott and from the family’s home represent (hint – it’s all the same water, even as the places it comes from hold special meanings for us). 

It will be a wonderful day of worship. An opportunity to reflect and respond. You are invited to join us, wherever you are at on your own faith journey, bringing your doubts and your deepest hopes to join with others listening for their shepherd’s voice and celebrating our commonality and our differences as a small part of the body of Christ, called together in this time and place. Blessings on your journey!

 

Upcoming Events: 

 

Monday, April 22nd 6:30pm CORE Community Graduation service in the Sanctuary. We are honored to provide space for this community effort to eradicate poverty in Bourbon County and celebrate with their first “Phase 1” class graduates. Come learn more about this wonderful program and how you might support it as this class moves to “Phase 2” and plans are made for a new “Phase 1” cohort to gather soon!

 

Wednesday, April 24, 5:30–6:30pm: Feeding Families in His Name – this weekly free meal is available to everyone without obligation. A “to-go” meal is distributed under the portico at 301 S. National. A reminder: Please do not block nearby driveways while waiting. Thank you. If you would like to support this ministry, you can make donations online at www.firstumcfortscott.org/onlinegiving

 

This Friday! April 26th - Shepherd’s Center / Adventures in Learning is back! Open to all who are interested but particularly aimed at retired adults in order to combat loneliness and encourage lifelong learning and fellowship, we host a variety of speakers and classes. This year we will meet from 1 to 4pm on the fourth Friday of each month from April  to September. Mark your calendar for Friday, April 26th. We will hear from Brian Allen on the history of Fort Scott, new Fort Scott Library staff member Jennifer Gum-Fowler -  Library and First UMC’s own Nancy Swanwick on how she got started quilting. Refreshments will be served and there is no cost to attend!  Bring a friend! 

 

June 17th – 21st We are hosting VBS this year. We continue to partner with our friends at First Presbyterian but will host Vacation Bible School in our building this time. Mark your calendar for June 17th – 21st in the evenings 5:30 - 8pm. Watch for more information in the coming months. Plan to bring your kids or grandkids for a great week of faith and fun rooted in Scripture.

 

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