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Christian Resources for Worship in Schools

Hands that Hurt or Heal?

Many people are attracted to the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. But far from being a cosy, romantic image it is a challenging and dangerous one. And it is beautiful too: in Jesus we have someone who cares and loves us so much that he is willing to die for us

Opening Activity: Things and people that protect

Take various items of protection: egg box, bubble wrap, padded envelopes, cardboard box, shin pad, bandage, polystyrene, cycling helmet, rain coat, umbrella, etc. Ask the pupils what the items have in common. The answer is: they all protect us from something. What do each of them protect you from? Of course, people also protect us. Can you think of any? Fire-fighters, police, teachers, parents, etc. What do they protect us from?

Jesus our Protector, Jesus our Shepherd
Jesus said he was the one who protects and cares for us. He said ‘I am the Good Shepherd.’ It may be difficult to understand what this means, especially if we don’t live in or come from farming communities. Being a Shepherd was difficult and dangerous work. It meant protecting the sheep from thieves and wild animals. It meant being alert and accounting for every sheep in their care. It meant being outdoors in all weathers. There is a beautiful passage in the gospel of John and it’s really is worth hearing. So listen carefully to the words:

‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."

It’s a beautiful passage. There we discover that Jesus knows every one of us, that he cares about us, that he is committed to us, that he willing to die for us, that he loves us.

In Jesus’ parable of the Lost Sheep, the Shepherd goes out to look for the one sheep that is lost. Whenever we are feeling lost in life, whenever we feel that God is distant, whenever we feel that we don’t know where we are going, whenever we feel alone or unloved, it’s good to remember that Jesus goes our of is way to find us. He looks for us before we even realise that we are lost!

In Psalm 23, one of the most well know and well loved psalms of all time, the writer says, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. He leads me in the right way...even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear nothing, for you are with me, your rod and your staff bring me comfort.’

We belong to Jesus
Jesus says that he is the good shepherd and we are his sheep, his flock. As well as knowing that Jesus cares for and looks after us, we also have to look after one another, care for and protect one another, guide people in the right way. After all, sheep stick together don’t they? Jesus wants there to be one flock, where we all recognise his voice, where we all look after one another, where we all support one another.

Reflection
Have you ever felt alone?
Have you ever felt that God was distant?
Think about Jesus the Good Shepherd, who comes to search for us, who loves us, who is willing to die for us.
How can we look after other people?

Prayer
Read Psalm 23

What you may need
Various items designed to protect. For example: egg box, bubble wrap, padded envelopes, cardboard box, shin pad, bandage, polystyrene, cycling helmet, rain coat, umbrella

Also Check Out

Useful Links

Psalm 23
Luke 15:3-7
John 10:11-18

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Why Not Try…?

The Mark of the Shepherd
Sheep have the mark of the shepherd or farmer, so that they can be recognised, so that the sheep don’t get lost, or that if they go astray they can be immediately identifiable. We too have the mark of Christ on us—the sign of the cross. When Christians are baptised they are marked with the sign of the cross on their forehead: it is the mark of Christ’s ownership, a sign that we belong to Jesus. The cross is the sign of Jesus, the sign of our shepherd. Why not provide an opportunity during the assembly for the young people to have a cross painted on their forehead, with body paint or body glitter?

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