The Backward-Riding Shepherd

If you want a paper copy of this service, download the Guide (see below:  "NOTES") to lead you through a time of family worship--a family of one or of many.  You will need the FREE Adobe Reader program to view this worship script:  Contact Pastor Thomas if you have any problems.

The Week beginning April 26, 2020


Sit in your place of worship.  Be silent for a minute.  Light your candle.

OPENING PRAYER (if possible, please pray out loud):

Lord God, in whom I(we)  find life, health, and strength, through whose gifts I am (we are) clothed and fed, through whose mercy I (we) have been forgiven and cleansed, be for me (us) Guide, Strength, Savior, Shepherd, and Lord, all the days of my life (our lives).  I (We) offer my prayers through Christ.  Amen.

PRAISE:  “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us”  United Methodist Hymnal # 381  (See notes for musical score and lyrics)

See "NOTES" below for a musical score and lyrics.  Sing along online at


THE CALL TO WORSHIP  (based on Psalm 23)  (Please read out loud if possible.  If you are not alone, take turns reading the lines).

  • The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  • He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
  • He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
  • Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
  • Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
  • Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.


If you are with others in your home, give each other a hug, and pray for those who will not have any human touch today.

If you are alone, ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind at least one person you will call or email or write to, as soon as this worship service ends.  (Others in your household can do this, too).


  • Sunday:                     John 10:11-18  (have someone read the scripture verses put loud)

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 When the hired hand sees the wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away. That’s because he isn’t the shepherd; the sheep aren’t really his. So the wolf attacks the sheep and scatters them. 13 He’s only a hired hand and the sheep don’t matter to him.

14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own sheep and they know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. I give up my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that don’t belong to this sheep pen. I must lead them too. They will listen to my voice and there will be one flock, with one shepherd.

17 “This is why the Father loves me: I give up my life so that I can take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I give it up because I want to. I have the right to give it up, and I have the right to take it up again. I received this commandment from my Father.”

++The word of God for the children of God:

++Thanks be to God!

  • Monday:                   Jeremiah 23:1-8
  • Tuesday:                   1 Peter 5:1-11
  • Wednesday:             Ezekiel 34:11-16
  • Thursday:                 Isaiah 40:9-11
  • Friday:                       2 Corinthians 4:1-18
  • Saturday:                  Psalm 23:1-6

PRAISE:  “Psalm 23 (Surely Goodness, Surely Mercy)”

            Experience this at


REFLECTION:  “Casting All of Our Cares on the Good Shepherd”   From Prayer, by Simon Tugwell

Another picture that our Lord loves to use is that of the shepherd who goes out to look for the sheep that is lost. So long as we imagine that it is we how have to look for God, then we must often lose heart. But it is the other way about: he is looking for us. And so we can afford to recognize that very often we are not looking for God; far from it, we are in full flight from him in high rebellion against him. And he knows that and has taken it into account. He has followed us into our own darkness; there where we thought finally to escape him, we run straight into his arms.

So we do not have to erect a false piety for ourselves, to give us hope of salvation. Our hope is in his determination to save us. And he will not give in!

This should free us from that crippling anxiety which prevents any real growth, giving us room to do whatever we can do, to accept the small by genuine responsibilities that we do have. Our part is not to shoulder the whole burden of salvation, the initiative and the program are not in our hands: our part is to consent, to learn how to love him in return whose love came to us so freely while we were quite uninterested in him.

Also we can lot ourselves off that desperate questions, “Am I in the right place?” “Have I done the right thing?” Of course, we must sometimes acknowledge sins and mistakes and we must try to learn from them; but we should not foster the kind of worry that leads to despair. God’s providence means that wherever we have got to, whatever we have done, that is precisely where the road to heaven begins. However many cues we have missed, however many wrong turnings we have taken however unnecessarily we may have complicated our journey, the road still beckons, the Lord still “waits to be gracious” to us (Isaiah 30:18).

If we let these things really speak to us, then we can surely accept our Lord’s invitation, indeed his command, to cast all our cares upon him (1 Peter 5:7) and let him care for them. We can give space in our hearts for Christ to dwell there, and it is faith that gives him space.  We can let him dethrone us from being God in our own hearts, and establish there his own rule.  We can then let him give us to ourselves, just as at the beginning he gave Adam to Adam.  Then we can receive from him all that is ours, all our faculties, all our freedom, our capacity to take initiatives, to make our own decisions, so that our own true independence no longer challenges God’s sovereignty but is precisely a most wonderful expression of it, as we receive our freedom day by day, minute by minute, from the creative love of God.

SERMON:  "The Backward-Riding Shepherd"  by Thomas Hoffmann 



 (Take one minute to consider today's scripture, reflection and sermon.  Have you thought of Jesus as a shepherd, and yourself as a sheep?  What does this image mean to you?  What parts of life do you tend to carry on your shoulders, rather than letting the Good Shepherd carry you on his shoulders?)

PRAYERS (with the Jewish New Testament version of the Lord’s Prayer)

 God, today I (we) pray

    • for the people of Hope United Methodist Church, and especially ...
      • See Barbara’s email prayer list for congregational requests.  To receive the email list, please reach out to
    • for those who suffer and those in trouble, and especially...
    • for the concerns of this local community, and especially...
    • for the world, its peoples, and its leaders, and for the earth that you have given to our care. “Lord, we place before You the disease present in our world.  Bring wisdom to doctors.  Give understanding to scientists. Endow caregivers with compassion and generosity.  Bring healing to those who are ill.  Protect those who are most at risk.  Give comfort to those who have lost a loved one.  Welcome those who have died into Your Eternal Home.  Stabilize our communities.  Unite us in our compassion.  Remove all fear from our hearts.  Fill us with confidence in Your care. Amen.”
    • for the Church universal—its leaders, its members, and its mission. We especially pray for Bishop Nunn, for District Superintendent Cindy Havlik, and for our new Superintendent coming this summer, Connie Gibson.  We also pray for those serving in medical missions around the world.  We also pray for  . . . .
    • in communion with the saints, remembering all those who have gone on before us, and now form part of the great Hall of Faith which encourages those of us who remain on earth.  Today we especially remember . . .
    • For my (our) needs today, which include . . .

Help me (us) remember, Lord, that you are merciful and good, and quick to act in times of need.  I (We) thank you for all of your many blessings that you graciously give to us and to the world you love.

Therefore, as your child (children) on earth, I (we) pray the prayer that our Brother Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father in heaven!

May your Name be kept holy.

May your Kingdom come,

your will be done on earth as in heaven.

Give us the food we need today.

Forgive us what we have done wrong,

as we too have forgiven those who have wronged us.

And do not lead us into hard testing,

but keep us safe from the Evil One.

For kingship, power and glory are your forever. Amen.


Please take a moment to remember all the many blessings God has given you, and to write a check to help support the ministry of your church.  You can also go to to make an online donation.  Thank you for your support!

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH:  (“This I Believe,” by Bruce Powers)

I believe I need a shepherd.

Because I am sometimes timid and other times overconfident,

because I often don't know the best path yet pretend I do,

because I rush into dead ends or lead others into hazardous places,

because my brightest ideas are seamed with darkness,

because the things I crave may not be what is good for me,

I need a shepherd.


I believe in Jesus, the best possible shepherd;

his wisdom leads me to the best opportunities,

his word comforts me when I'm anxious or afraid,

his arm steadies me when I feel weary and heavy-laden,

his wounded body displays the cost of my rescue.


I believe in Jesus, the best possible shepherd.

I believe that I do not find him but he finds me,

that I under his care by virtue of sheer grace,

the love he gives me is to be shared with others,

that he treasures my name and prepares a place for me,

that his fold transfixes earth and heaven.

I trust Jesus, the good shepherd. Amen.


Following this service, please take a moment to write and mail a note, send an email or make a phone call to someone you feel needs a touch of human connection today.

PRAISE:  “The King of Love My Shepherd Is”    (United Methodist Hymnal #138)   See "NOTES" below for a musical score and lyrics.  Sing along or experience this online at


(Read aloud if possible:)  Lord Jesus, allow your servants to go in peace.  We have experienced your salvation which you have prepared for everyone.  Strengthen us as we seek to serve others in your name.  Amen.


AND FINALLY . . . JUST FOR THE KIDS (OR THE YOUNG AT HEART:  Enjoy this LOOP Show Worship-at-Home Video from LifeChurch!

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