Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio

A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Fourth Sunday Easter

Introduction & Welcome

Alleluia! Christ is risen.

Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

The gift of new life, of eternal life, is the gift of the risen Christ. It is the promise of Jesus. It was true for Dorcas in Joppa. It was true for those “who have come out of the great ordeal” in the Revelation vision. It is true for us and for all the baptized: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Thanksgiving for Baptism

Alleluia! Christ is risen.

Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

In the waters of baptism,

we have passed over from death to life with Jesus Christ,

and we are a new creation.

For this saving mystery, and for this water, let us bless God,

who was, who is, and who is to come.

We thank you, God, for your river of life,

flowing freely from your throne:

through the earth,

through the city,

through every living thing.

You rescued Noah and his family from the flood;

You opened wide the sea for the Israelites.

Now in these waters you flood us with mercy,

and our sin is drowned forever.

You open the gate of righteousness

and we pass safely through.

In Jesus Christ, you calm and trouble the waters.

You nourish us and enclose us in safety.

You call us forth and send us out.

In lush and barren places, you are with us.

You have become our salvation.

Now breathe upon this water

and awaken your church once more.

Claim us again as your beloved and holy people.

Quench our thirst; cleanse our hearts; wipe away every tear.

To you, our Beginning and our End,

our Shepherd and Lamb,

be honor, glory, praise, and thanksgiving,

now and forever.


Prayer of the Day

O God of peace, you brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great shepherd of the sheep. By the blood of your eternal covenant, make us complete in everything good that we may do your will, and work among us all that is well-pleasing in your sight, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


First Reading: Acts 9:36-43

Dorcas was a faithful and devoted woman of charity in the community of Joppa. Her kindness and her work with clothing were well-known, especially to the widows in town. When she fell ill and died, Peter raised her back to life through the power of prayer.

36Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. 37At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. 38Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” 39So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. 41He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. 42This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.

Psalm: Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. (Ps. 23:1)

1The Lord| is my shepherd;
  I shall not be in want.
2The Lord makes me lie down in green pastures
  and leads me beside still waters.
3You restore my soul, O Lord,
  and guide me along right pathways for your name’s sake.
4Though 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. 
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
  you anoint my head with oil, and my cup is running over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

Second Reading: Revelation 7:9-17

Christ is the shepherd who leads his faithful to springs of the water of life. Christ is also the lamb who vanquishes sin and suffering.

9After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
 “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
11And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12singing,
 “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
 and thanksgiving and honor
 and power and might
 be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” 14I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15For this reason they are before the throne of God,
  and worship him day and night within his temple,
  and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
16They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
  the sun will not strike them,
  nor any scorching heat;
17for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
  and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
 and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. Jesus says, I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me. Alleluia. (John 10:14)

Gospel: John 10:22-30

Jesus responds to questions about his identity with the remarkable claim that he and the Father are one. Those who understand this are his sheep; they hear his voice, follow, and will never be snatched from his hand.

22At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; 26but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. 30The Father and I are one.”

Meditation by Vicar Dave

Alleluia! Christ is risen.

Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

There’s a lot of imagery involving sheep and shepherds in today’s readings. Sheep and shepherds tend to conjure up an image in my head of these fun animals, which are wearing white wool and are usually rather docile. That’s really not the case, however. I recently watched a series called “Victorian Farm” where these three people were running a farm in England using the tools and techniques of people living in the late 1800’s. One of the several types of farm animals they kept were sheep. Contrary to my earlier image of these creatures, these things were dirty, smelly and really quite willful. Trying to get them to go where you wanted them to could be a big challenge. Even when the farmers were trying to do what was best for them, they often resisted. One of the farmers even got injured when trying to help a sheep deliver its lamb. We’re kind of like that also, aren’t we? We don’t always do what’s best for us, neither physically nor spiritually. Many studies have been done to illustrate the dangers of distracted driving. Cell phones have created a whole new category of distraction, catapulting distracted driving to one of the biggest causes of traffic crashes. Yet when that phone rings, or we get a text message alert, we’re all tempted to pick it up and see what’s going on. We know we should wait until we’ve stopped driving to look, but being the willful creatures we are, we take the chance and look anyway.

The image of a shepherd also conjures up the idea of someone who spends his time, wandering about the pastures or relaxing and playing a flute, and being rather carefree. The reality is also quite different. Shepherds did work out in the fields, but their job was to manage these unruly critters and try to keep them together. The size of ones’ flock was an indication of wealth, so the owner of the flock didn’t want any of these beasts wandering off, which they were prone to do. Then there’s the very real danger of predators, such as wolves, whom they were expected to chase away if them came after the sheep. Unlike the folks on the show I watched, in Jesus’ time, they didn’t keep the sheep in a barn at night, and the shepherds worked through the night, keeping watch over their flocks. This was a hard job and was more often than not hired out to some of the folks on the lower end of the economic spectrum. Many of these hirelings didn’t care that much for the sheep and if one or two were lost to a wolf or something, they didn’t go after them because it wasn’t worth risking their life to go save them.

Jesus, on the other hand, is the good shepherd. He takes care of His flock, provides for them and defends them. His sheep know Him and follow Him where He leads. Jesus even lays down His life for His sheep, us. Our Psalm today talks about what it’s like to have Jesus as our shepherd. This is more of the idyllic imagery of green pastures for resting and still waters for drinking. It also talks about being guided by the Lord and being protected by Him, even in the greatest of dangers.

There is another image of a sheep that is presented in the second reading. That of the sacrificial lamb. This image is used to describe Jesus, as He had laid down His life for us. But in Revelation, the lamb has become the one at the center of the throne and has also become the shepherd of all.

We’re sometimes like the reality of sheep, aren’t we? We act in ways that are not good for us. We think we know better how to take care of ourselves than anyone else, including God. We wander away from God when we sin and this gets us into all kinds of trouble. God calls us back to where we should be, but we are willful. I wonder sometimes if we’re worth chasing after and saving, the way Christ did for us. But one thing I’ve learned is that God loves us, not because we’re worthy of that love, because we are not. God loves us because of who God is, not because of who we are. Irrespective of what value the world places on us, we are precious in God’s sight, and He will always come for us when we get ourselves into trouble because of our stubborn and willful nature.

May God our father be your good shepherd. May He lead you to safe places and shield you in His loving embrace.

Prayers of Intercession

Set free from captivity to sin and death, we pray to the God of resurrection for the church, people in need, and all of creation.

A brief silence.

Gentle Shepherd, enable your church to respond to the voice of Jesus. Give Elizabeth and Daniel, our bishops, and Brenda, our incoming pastor, and Howard, our outgoing pastor, and all of us unfailing trust, unafraid to join in Jesus’ work of renewing all things. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Feed your people at the table of creation. Prepare a safe place for those whose environments are dangerous or unhealthy, especially those making difficult journeys as refugees from war or oppression or poverty. Prosper your creation for the sake of every living thing. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Warm the hearts of all who celebrate and all who mourn on Mother’s Day. Accompany those yearning to be mothers. Help us to heal from broken family relationships and open us to receive your nurturing love from all who serve mothering roles in our lives. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Seek out those who weep while they await healing or consolation especially those we remember on our prayer list and prayer board and those we bring before you now, either out load or in the quiet stillness of our hearts. Set people in their path who can provide the care they need, and wipe away every tear from their eyes. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Inspire the words of prophets and saints who employ innovative imagery to stretch our understanding. Send Christ to instruct us with tender care. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Enfold us in the great multitude of saints from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages. Wash us in your saving grace every day, guiding us to your waters of life. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

In your mercy, O God, respond to these and all of our prayers, and renew us by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ, our Savior.


Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Apostles Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead.* On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting.


And now, as our Savior, Christ is teaching us, we boldly pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.



God, the Author of life,

Christ, the living Cornerstone,

and the life-giving Spirit of adoption,

☩ bless you now and forever.



Alleluia! Christ is risen.

Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Go in peace. Tell what God has done.

Thanks be to God.