Service at Home on 13th September 2020
for Christ Church Ramsbottom, Edenfield Methodist Church and Bolton Road Methodist Church
YouTube playlist: Service at Home 13-09-2020
As usual, the entire service can be followed on this YouTube playlist without the need to look at these sheets. However, you can still use these sheets if you prefer, especially if you want to read the prayers.
Welcome and Introduction
Watch: Welcome and Introduction
Welcome to this Sunday’s Service at Home. The readings this week challenge us to treat other people the way God treats us. In particular, to forgive each other from the heart.
Watch: Good Good Father
Watch: Opening prayers
My Father in heaven, my good, good Father, I worship you for all that you provide for me and do for me. I worship you for listening to my prayers and always being with me, to guide me and protect me. Most of all I worship you for your love – your perfect never-ending love. I worship you because you love us so much that you sent your son, Jesus Christ, to this world to die as a sacrifice, so that through his death we would have life – an eternal life in your Kingdom.
Lord, when I think of your mighty love, I realised that my love is often weak and half-hearted. When I consider your perfection, I become aware of my failings. Lord, I’m sorry for all the unloving and selfish things that I say and do. In a moment for quiet, I confess these things to you now……..
Lord, forgive me. I thank and praise you that through Jesus I know that I’ve been completely forgiven and that my sin does not separate me from your love. I thank and praise you that your love is unconditional and that you’ll always love me even when I keep letting you down.
Lord, I know that you’re with me wherever I am. Help me to feel your presence with me through your Spirit living in me as I worship you now. Help me to feel your perfect love and peace in my heart. Speak to me Lord through your Word, teach me what I need to know. Amen.
And now say the prayer that Jesus taught us:
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 that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Lord Jesus, our Saviour, I worship you for your mighty love, with all that I am. I worship you for the promise that I have in you, with which nothing else can compare. Amen.
Watch: My Jesus, My Saviour
Prayers of intercession by Susan Applegate
Watch: Prayers of intercession
Heavenly Father we bring before you our prayers of intersession as our hearts reach out to you in Love and compassion for our fellow man.
We see our world in turmoil with yet more spikes in Covid-19 cases, with governments trying to stop the spread of the virus, and find a cure or vaccine that works, plus having to cope with other issues that have not gone away such as war, terrorism, violence, famine, homelessness , political unrest, racism and natural disasters. We bring to mind the countries of Yemen, Syria, India, North Korea, Belarus, USA, Beirut, and Tunisia, to name but a few. Plus our own country and the recent situations in Birmingham, Ipswich and others throughout the country.
Compassionate God forgive us as countries turn their backs on you, bring us together in love and a willingness to change our ways, to open our hearts to hear your voice and respond to you. Give wisdom and guidance to governments, may they value human life and treat all people with dignity and respect. Bring Peace and calm to the world, that a vaccine may be quickly found and that we may work together for all mankind.
We pray for our government as they continue to negotiate Brexit divorce talks with the EU, as they look to amending or changing laws in our country, as they balance health risks with economic issues. May they be sensitive to helping the most vulnerable in our society and use their powers wisely.
All knowing and seeing God, give wisdom and guidance to all in authority, that they may lay aside their egos and self-interests when making decisions.
We pray for the worldwide church, especially those being persecuted, and those having to choose between food or renouncing their faith, especially in Mexico where local leaders are not being challenged by the government despite laws to allow free worship.
Lord Give strength and courage to your people to remain faithful, Change the thinking of the government to make them act to prevent this practise continuing. Bless these your people and may your kingdom flourish.
We pray for our own churches, and the Methodist circuit as our leaders meet together to plan and negotiate the way forward in the coming year. As they look for the correct way for us to proceed in ministry and mission, that is both safe and accessible for all peoples.
Lord pour your Holy Spirit out on our churches that they may discern your will and be courageous and willing to follow your leading.
On this Educational Sunday we especially bring before you all those in Education as they work through how to apply safe practices and places for studying. Support the teachers, staff, and children as they all return to school , taking away any worry or concerns they may have and help them to quickly identify those students who need extra support.
Lord in your Mercy, hear our prayer.
We bring before you those we know who need our prayers, those who are: ill physically or mentally, whether its Covid-19, cancer or another life threating or terminal illness; for those that feel lost, anxious or fearful, or just struggling to cope with their situation; for carers and those who live alone, for those without a faith or those grieving; and for the unemployed or those struggling to make ends meet.
Loving God bless and provide all those we know with your comfort. Reassurance and Peace that loving you can bring. May your healing hand descend upon those who are ill, bring peace to those in turmoil. Provide help and support to those who need it.
And finally, we pray for ourselves, give us courage and strength to face all we encounter, help us to remain faithful and strong and willing and able to share your love to all we meet. May we be your light in the darkness as we go about our daily business. Re- kindle our passion to seek you more day by day. Bless each one of us now and forever more. In the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Watch: He will hold me fast
Readings and Sermon
Watch: Readings and Sermon
Genesis 50: 15 – 21 (Joseph reassures his brothers)
Matthew 18: 21 – 35
Today’s readings are both about treating other people the way God treats us.
In our Gospel reading Peter has an important question to ask Jesus. Jesus has just been talking to the disciples about how they should help each other not to stray away from living in God’s way. If someone persisted in behaving in a way that was contrary to the values Jesus had taught them they might have to be expelled from the community of believers. They would be welcomed back the moment they resolved to change their ways. This leads Peter to ask his question – how many times should he forgive someone? – he suggests seven as a generous number.
‘Seventy times seven’ Jesus responds and he’s teasing Peter. If you’re still counting how many times you’ve forgiven someone, you’re not really forgiving them are you – you’re just postponing your revenge. Jesus is saying – don’t even think about counting, just forgive them.
Jesus then tells a story about a servant who both owed, and was owed, money. The servant owed his king 10,000 bags of gold. This is a ludicrously large debt, the equivalent of some hundreds of millions of pounds and obviously he could never hope to repay it. Yet the king forgave him this debt and the servant was saved from being sold with his family and possessions.
The debt owed to the first servant by his fellow servant was about one hundred–thousandth of this - totally insignificant in comparison. Yet he got his fellow servant thrown in prison because he could not repay the small amount.
What do you think of that first servant? How could he insist on his own debt being repaid when he had been forgiven so much? What was he thinking of? How could he forget that he had just been forgiven his own enormous, unpayable amount?
How indeed! There’s a sting in the tail of this story. Jesus is saying that we are all in the position of that servant. We have each been forgiven all our debts (in other words, all our wrongdoing) by God. But do we forgive in our turn?
What an enormous debt we have been forgiven. We may feel that we are decent folk, that we behave better than a lot of people. But when we are honest with ourselves, we realise just how far short we are of God’s standards for our lives. We all fall short of loving others as we should. And have we never been angry? Hurt someone else by our words or behaviour? Passed on some unkind gossip? Been a little less than honest? Put our own interests before those of others? Our readings a couple of weeks ago reminded us that it is human nature to be self-centred, rather than self-giving and that this is an attitude we need to fight against each day.
The fact is that we hurt each other and ourselves and God and yet, when we turn to God, genuinely sorry for what we’ve done wrong, we are always forgiven. God came to earth as one of us, in the person of Jesus and lived amongst us, suffered and died on the cross so that all our wrongdoing could be forgiven. All of it – from the big wrongs we commit to the dozens of ways in which we let God down every day through our anger, laziness, selfishness etc. It is all wiped out when we turn to God, truly sorry, and ask for his forgiveness.
Once we realise what an enormous debt has been paid for us by Jesus on the cross, surely our hearts will overflow with forgiveness for others.
Our first reading was part of the wonderful story of Joseph, famous for his many coloured coat. If you read the whole story, you’ll see how Joseph changes as he gets to know God and to rely on God. We heard how Joseph reassured his brothers that he really had forgiven them, he didn’t bear a grudge and he wasn’t planning to get even with them. It’s not surprising that they needed this reassurance, there was a lot for Joseph to forgive. If you’re familiar with the story you’ll know that they had planned to kill him, thrown him down a well and then decided to sell him as a slave. In our reading we see Joseph’s compassion for his brothers – he weeps when they come to him – and we see that he’s forgiven them completely. He shows his forgiveness not only through his kind and comforting words, but also by the fact that he takes care of his brothers and their families. Joseph can forgive his brothers because he knows that God has rescued him, is looking after him and always will.
God has rescued us from the guilt, shame and harm caused by our own wrongdoing, he has rescued us from death and adopted us into his family where he is looking after us and always will.
God forgives us and forgives us, day after day, welcoming us back into his loving arms again and again. And he expects us to do the same for others.
Unlimited forgiveness is expected of us, because through Jesus we enjoy the unlimited forgiveness of God.
So we forgive because we have been forgiven. And Jesus says we must forgive ‘from the heart’. Not just say we’ve forgiven the other person, but really forgive them from the depth of our being. This is all part of really ‘loving our neighbour’ as Jesus commanded us to do. Jesus calls us to behave differently, to live our lives in the power of his Holy Spirit, a power which will enable us to forgive others from the heart as we ourselves have been forgiven. A power which will wipe out any anger or bitterness we may feel against those who have wronged us.
There’s a terrible warning at the end of Jesus’ story. The unforgiving servant is brought once more before the king. ‘In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 ‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’
Tom Wright explains it like this, ‘If your heart is open, able and willing to forgive others, it will also be open to receive God’s love and forgiveness. But if it’s locked up to the one, it will be locked up to the other.’ And he adds ‘Every time you accuse someone else, you accuse yourself. Every time you forgive someone else, though, you pass on a drop of water out of the bucketful that God has already given you.’
Forgiving each other is one of the hardest things Jesus expects us to do. We think we’ve forgiven someone only to find that the same hurt and angry feelings come boiling up inside us again when we think of how that person has treated us. Some hurts are very hard to forgive. We really need God’s help to forgive and we need to be prepared to work at forgiving on a daily basis.
If this is something you are struggling with and you would like to talk and pray about it with someone in confidence, you can get in touch with me by phone or via the church website.
I read Bill’s story - entitled ‘Why I am a Christian’ on the Portsmouth Cathedral website.
‘In my life I have had to face up to the fact that I get angry quite easily, and then you can hold grudges and it ruins your life and your relationships. But in church every time you say the confession and then you are told you are forgiven, it is wiped out, gone. And I thought, that's the way I've got to deal with it, let it go, forgive. So I tried it. It was hard, but somehow I can do it - leave it to God and start again. And since I've been doing that my life has been quite a lot different. It does work.’
God calls us to treat each other the way He treats us.
- If we remember how much God forgives us, and keeps on forgiving us, time and again, we will have more compassion and understanding for the shortcomings we see in others.
- God calls us to reflect his love and forgiveness in our own lives, forgiving others with the whole of our heart.
- This is something we need to work on daily, asking for God’s help through the Holy Spirit.
Lord God, you have commanded us to forgive from the heart those who hurt or upset us. This is a difficult thing to do and we ask for your help now.
Take a moment to think of anyone you feel angry or upset with. Maybe it’s because of something that has happened just today, maybe it’s a hurt that goes back years. --------
Silently offer that person and that situation to God, remembering that you are both his beloved children and asking God’s help in forgiving them.
Now ask God to fill you with his power of love and forgiveness, his Holy Spirit.
Consciously let go of any anger or resentment that you feel and let God’s love flow into all parts of your being.
Lord we thank you that you forgive us completely, wiping out our wrongdoing and keeping no record of wrongs. Help us through your Holy Spirit to forgive others with all our heart. Make us humble enough to ask you for your help and strength each day. We ask our prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Watch: I will offer up my life
Watch: Lord I come to You
Lord, send us out in your name, to serve the world and to love our neighbour as ourselves. Send us out in faith and hope that we may be channels of your grace to all. Amen.