- Suggested service order for a time of prayer
This service order includes a song in Arabic language, and every month music from a different church background will be proposed to be listened and/or sing. You should feel free to adapt the music according to your local situation, as well as the arrangement of the space for the prayer.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
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. (John 10:1-10)
After the time of silence, each month there will be 3 prayers intentions that can be read and acclaimed by a respond, after whet everyone can freely add intentions for the local church community and particular needs (nation, city, family life, etc.).
- May the Holy Spirit inspire all Christians from all denominations to walk together, that by join a synodal path they strengthen their communion both in a particular and universal level.
- That all people in use of authority in the Church and elsewhere (public, political, social life) may use it for the good of all, inspired by the example of the good shepherd.
- We pray for those who have suffered harm from members of the Church; may they find within the Church herself a concrete response to their pain and suffering (The Pope’s prayer intention for March.
- Intentions of the local community
Prayer of conclusion: Our Father
A Bible reflection on John 10
This story of the good shepherd is good news for our life.
The metaphor of the shepherd is well known, but sometimes trivialised, giving rise to even pious images of the “good shepherd”. However, the controversial elements in this passage show the tension in the words of Jesus, who denounces injustice and hypocrisy, especially on the part of religious leaders. Today, the life of shepherding is foreign to many of our contemporaries, but this was not the case in Jesus’ time. The parable resonates strongly and yet these listeners do not understand (v.6)! To hear for yourself a word that destabilises is not so simple. It requires a great deal of trust in the speaker and an awareness of his or her weaknesses, or even failings.
From the outset, the evangelist John gives solemnity to Jesus’ words with the expression ‘Truly, truly, I say to you’, referring to what is firm and reliable in faith. We would have expected Jesus to identify himself with the shepherd, but he makes a diversion using the symbol of the door. This door has a decisive function: it is the passageway for entering and leaving. But he already warns against those who break into the enclosure, by not going through the door. Jesus immediately raises the question of discernment: what guides my life, who do I listen to and who inspires me to make choices, to commit myself?
Jesus then describes the role of a true shepherd. Such a shepherd leads their flock in and out in a back and forth movement where they find safety and freedom. The emphasis is on the relationship of mutual trust – a trust that is two-way. The shepherd knows their sheep by name. Each sheep recognises the voice of the shepherd. The shepherd takes care of them and gives them what is good for them abundantly. Discernment finds a yardstick here – what it produces in us and among us: that is, life in abundance, a quality of life made up of trust, happiness, goodness towards oneself and towards others (cf. Psalm 23).
Jesus points to a single door, a single passage that produces freedom and security. Similarly, by identifying himself with the shepherd, he points to a single shepherd who cares for his sheep and leads them to abundant life. His sheep form a single flock that listens, knows and recognises the voice of the shepherd. The evangelist insists on this notion of belonging because it is based on this one relationship of trust, personal and intimate, like the one that unites Jesus to his Father (v.15). It is from this relationship that the flock finds its unity.
Pastor Anne-Laure Danet – Uniting Protestant Church in France
Questions to reflect:
- How does my trust in Jesus lead me to freedom and security?
- What does this freedom and security mean in my relationships with others?
- One flock, many sheep, one shepherd, one door: how do these metaphors help me in my understanding of the Church and the relationship with other Churches?
Every month, we will share the experiences of different people in regards of church life, fellowship and Sinodality in a ecumenical context. This month, we present you a clip prepared last year by ‘Pro Oriente’ in the Middle East.
A word from the first Christians
By the harmony of your feelings and the harmony of your charity, you sing Jesus Christ. May each of you also become a member of the choir, so that in the harmony of your mutual agreement, taking the tone of God in unity, you may sing with one voice through Jesus Christ a hymn to the Father, so that he listens to you and may he recognize you, by all that you do well, as the members of his Son. It is therefore fruitful for you to be in inseparable unity, in order to always participate in God.
Ignatius of Antioch (a.d. 30-107), Letter to the Ephesians IV.
3. Group Activity : The Good Shepherd Scavenger Hunt
The aim of this activity is to help the participants identify the qualities that Jesus presents as the Good Shepherd and how these qualities can be embodied in practical ways.
Prepare a group of animators that can lead a small group of discussion (5-8 people) when participants are more than 10.
Give time for reflection: Encourage the participants to take a few minutes for quiet reflection and ask them to think about the qualities that a Good Shepherd would possess.
Share with the group: Ask each participant to go around the room asking each other to share the qualities and why they have chosen them. Each participant makes their own list of qualities.
Discuss and reflect: Once all the participants have made a list, in small groups, discuss the qualities and how they can be practically applied on a personal and community level. How can these qualities contribute to fostering more unity within the Church, particularly in light of the synodal journey currently in process?
Examples can include:
- Seeking advice from a trusted mentor or elder
- Reading a book or watching a documentary on a topic that challenges your beliefs or expands your knowledge
- Engaging in a meaningful conversation with someone who holds different views
- Being honest and transparent in communication
- Following through on commitments
- Being dependable and reliable
- Actively listening to others
- Being open to feedback
- Expressing oneself clearly and respectfully
- Actively engaging in dialogue
- Being open to the perspectives of others
- Taking the time to understand their concerns and needs.
- Taking an active role in decision-making processes
- Contributing to the community
- Supporting others in their efforts.
At the end, each group shares their reflection. Wrap up the activity by summarizing the main points and reiterating the importance of reflecting on Jesus as the Good Shepherd and embodying his qualities.