4th Sunday of Easter

Lectionary 1st Reading Psalm 2nd Reading Gospel
C of E lectionary
Genesis 7
1 Peter 2:19-25
John 10:1-10
Catholic lectionary:
Acts 2:1, 4a, 36-41


Genesis 7

I was asked by a local school do conduct a religious assembly on the story of Noah’s Ark. They were expecting something cute about animals and were taken aback when I asked them if they really wanted me to talk about “universal cataclysmic judgement”! This is a story of salvation rather than judgement – earlier in Genesis is it clear that humanity had set the earth on a course of self-destruction Now the earth was corrupt in Gods sight, and the earth was filled with violence.  And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” (Genesis 6:11–12 ESV) This judgement is the means of salvation.

Psalm 23

God as shepherd (verses 1 – 4) morphs into God as host (verses 5 – 6) This image of God’s care, provision and protection needs to be reflected by how we treat one another and the world we inhabit and care for.

1 Peter 2

One commentator says about this letter, The First Epistle of Saint Peter—the most condensed New Testament résumé of the Christian faith and of the conduct that it inspires—is a model of a pastoral letter”. The fisherman who became a pastor (shepherd) is a witness, not just to what Jesus did and said while he was in his fishing-boat or in his house, but to the meaning of Christs life, death, resurrection, and ascension. The apostle seeks to encourage and reassure Christian churches in Asia Minor as stormy seasons of persecution begin. The letter reminds us that no Christian is exempt from suffering when following Jesus and reminds us to be faithful in prayer for our sisters and brothers around the world facing harsher opposition and cultures than most of us do here.

John 10

One thing I ask myself is why does Jesus choose this point in his ministry to tell stories about sheep and shepherds. Context shows He is in the middle of an argument with the religious leaders of Israel, the Pharisees. Jesus is making a provocative claim to be the one rightful shepherd. His first hearers know all about the rich biblical imagery of the shepherd; Isaiah, Jeremiah, the psalms (not just the famous 23rd Psalm, the Lord is my shepherd) and most notably in Ezekiel. Here in John chapter 10 Jesus is making it clear that he is the rightful shepherd and therefore the Pharisees standing there are the thieves and robbers who are stealing, killing and destroying. Not winning any popularity contests, not surprising that by the time we get further on in the chapter, people are threatening to kill Jesus. The image of the sheep and shepherd is not a relaxing rural or pastoral image – it is fighting talk from Jesus. 



“The Lord is my Shepherd.. He restores my soul”

Souls need restoring. How does God restore yours? 

The magazine of the university of Derby (UK) says: “It is widely acknowledged that spending time in nature has extensive benefits for both our physical and mental health. It can help to improve our mood, reduce anxiety and stress levels, and can have longer-term benefits by reducing the risk of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Dom Higgins, Head of Health and Education at the Wildlife Trusts, agrees: We have a need for those active environments and contact with nature is something deep within us. We are part of nature.”

I believe that such connection with God’s creation can speak to us at the deepest level of restoring the soul. I remember the first time that truth hit home to me. I was facing tough decisions, including whether to move from Hong Kong to France (!) and I had been deeply hurt by the behavior of other brother and sister Christians toward me. I went on retreat to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in north east England and that phrase from our Psalm spoke to me in a way that I had never experienced before – I had all sorts of reading planned, study of thick theological tomes but God invited me to spend the time walking with Him in His creation. Through it he restored my soul.

In the week before Palm Sunday, I was privileged to visit Lake Hornborga in south west Sweden. At this time of year, it hosts up to 15000 migrating cranes. The prophet Jeremiah contrasts the natural wisdom of migrating birds with human disobedience, Even the stork in the heavens knows her times, and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming, but my people know not the rules of the LORD.(Jeremiah 8:7 ESV)My experience of being in the midst of God’s creation again restored my soul as I prepared for Holy Week and Easter, the fundamental source of the abundant life that Jesus offers us.

How can you connect with creation and encourage others so to do in ways that “restore the soul” and lead to a deeper appreciation of our Creator and the providential Shepherd care we receive? How does Jesus’ promise of abundant life require care for others and the world around us if it is to be abundant in the truest sense



The image of the Shepherd is not just for a rural world – I spent 13 years in Hong Kong and in that archetypal city the word for priest or church minster is 牧師 / 牧师    “muk si” combining the words for herd or tend with teacher or master. 


A famous reworking of Psalm 23 by the Japanese poet Toki Miyashina:

The Lord is my pacesetter, I shall not rush.
he makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals. 
He provides me with images of stillness 
which restore my serenity. 
He leads me in ways of efficiency, 
through calmness of mind, 
and his guidance is peace. 
Even though I have a great many things to 
accomplish this day, 
I will not fret, 
for his presence is here. 
His timelessness, 
His all-importance, 
Will keep me in balance. 
He prepares refreshment and renewal 
in the midst of my activity
by anointing my head with the oil of tranquility. 
My cup of joyous energy overflows. 
Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours, 
for I shall walk in the place of my Lord, 
and dwell in His house forever.

It reminds me of something JB Phillips once noticed about Jesus:

His task and responsibility might well have driven a man out of his mind. But He was never in a hurry, never impressed by numbers, never a slave of the clock. He was acting, as He said, as He observed God to actnever in a hurry.
Share the article:

Revd. Dale R. Hanson

The Revd. Dale R. Hanson is Chaplain of St. Mark’s Versailles with Gif sur Yvette. He is an elected member of the General Synod of the Church of England (Diocese of Europe). He retires from stipendiary ministry this summer and looks forward to spending more time watching and photographing birds (and spending more time with his wife!).–

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top