(Sunday between July 17 and July 23 inclusive)
In the readings for this Sunday, God says: Like a shepherd, I will gather up the remnant of my flock (Jeremiah 23:1-6). The psalmist declares: The Lord is my shepherd, leading, protecting, and feeding me (Psalm 23). Regarding Jews and Gentiles, Paul tells us that Christ is our peace, breaking down the dividing wall between us (Ephesians 2:11-22). In Mark, we find that, after a brief respite, great crowds surround Jesus and the disciples (Mark 6:30-34, 53-56).
1 Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. 3 Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.
5 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
11 So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15 He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16 and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17 So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54 When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55 and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
Call to Worship
Based on Mark 6:31, Psalm 23:1-3
As Jesus called the apostles to a place of rest,
so, too, does our Good Shepherd call us
to walk beside the still waters of worship,
restoring our souls and leading us in right paths for his name's sake.
Let us worship the Lord.
Prayer of Renewal
Based on Psalm 23
Jesus, our Good Shepherd,
in you we have all that we truly desire.
Guide us to green pastures and
lead us beside still waters.
Where our souls lack health, bring restoration.
Lead us in right paths that you may be glorified.
When we walk through dark times,
remove our fears and fill us with faith.
Remind us of your Spirit's presence to comfort and guide us.
Help us to love our enemies and remember
your goodness and mercy at the close of each day.
In Christ's name we pray. Amen.
Song of Response
Affirmation of Faith
Based on Ephesians 2:11-22
We believe that at one time we were without Christ,
being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,
and strangers to the covenants of promise,
having no hope and without God in the world.
We believe that we, who once were far off,
have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
We believe Jesus is our peace; in his flesh he has made
both Jews and Gentiles into one and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility.
We believe Jesus has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances,
that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two,
thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups (Jews and Gentiles)
to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.
We believe Jesus came and proclaimed peace
to those who were far off and peace to those who were near;
for through him both Jews and Gentiles have access in one Spirit to the Father.
We believe we are no longer strangers and aliens,
but we are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God,
built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.
We believe that in Christ the whole structure is joined together
and grows into a holy temple in the Lord;
in whom we also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.