This last Sunday, the Fourth Sunday in Easter, has traditionally been called “Shepherd Sunday,” in which we heard readings reminding us of the rich metaphor of God as our Shepherd.
Even though we hear readings about shepherds every year, the metaphor of the gate means something different for me this year. While some have interpreted Jesus as a gate being exclusionary, I am reminded that a gate works both ways. Jesus never excludes, but invites us into deeper fellowship, watching over us and encouraging us with his sheltering hand. As we have remained largely behind closed doors and gates these past many weeks, and for some time in the future, I also pray for those who do not have a door or gate to protect them.
Therefore, I offer this prayer for us as we turn toward our beloved Savior, the Shepherd of Our Souls:
In peace and humility,
we pray to You, Most Merciful One.
Show us your ways,
and bring us to delight
in your paths of mercy, charity, and compassion,
O Lord of Life.
May we enter your gate with joy,
and be gathered within your pastures of plenty.
Let us never seek pardon without penitence,
clemency without contrition,
reprieve without redress for the injury we have inflicted.
With You, O Shepherd,
is abundant grace and ample forgiveness
for those who acknowledge their fault,
and seek a new path of healing
and amendment of life.
Let us throw open the windows of our hearts
and pull back the curtains of our fears,
that we may rejoice
in the steadfast light and love of Christ,
a balm for the spirit and an aid for the weary.
Love, Hope, Truth, Compassion,
in all your beauty and tenderness,
take a walk with us
and guide us ever deeper
into dedication and service
in the Name of the Redeemer
and Lover of Our Souls.
May the flame of your Spirit, O God,
be kindled within the hearths of our hearts,
and may we burn brightly with truth and love.
God Our Refuge and Stronghold,
extend the hand of your mercy over all who seek You,
and grant your peace to those we now name.
The Rev. Leslie Scoopmire is a writer, musician, and a priest in the Diocese of Missouri. She is priest-in-charge of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Ellisville, MO. She posts daily prayers at her blog Abiding In Hope, and collects spiritual writings and images at Poems, Psalms, and Prayers.