Service at Home on 19th July 2020
for Christ Church Ramsbottom, Edenfield Methodist Church and Bolton Road Methodist Church
YouTube playlist: Service at Home 19-07-2020
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. Today’s Bible readings remind us to stay alert, to wait patiently, to see people as God sees them and to tell everyone we can about the wonderful things God is longing to give them through Jesus.
Watch: Unbroken Praise
Watch: What a beautiful name it is
Watch: Opening prayers
Dear Lord Jesus, I am here now to worship you. I worship you because you were willing to come to this world to die for each one of us, even though we certainly don’t deserve it. I worship you because in the face of so much dreadful pain and humiliation you had the strength and courage to go to the cross. I worship you because you conquered death and rose again from the dead. I worship you because through your death I know that I’m forgiven and have your promise of life for all eternity.
But Lord, I know that despite of everything that you’ve done for me, I let you down and do, say and think things that I shouldn’t – things that you would not do. And I know that I’m not always obedient to your calling and I fail to do what you want me to do. Lord, help me to bring to mind my failings now………..
Lord, I’m sorry. Lord, forgive me.
I thank you that through your death on a cross I know that I have been forgiven and my burden of guilt taken from me. Thank you, Jesus.
Lord, inspire my worship now. Send the Holy Spirt to fill me with hope, love and praise. In a moment of quiet, help me to become aware of your presence through the Holy Spirit within me …….
Open my mind to the truth about you. Open my heart to your love and forgiveness. 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.
Prayers of intercession
Watch: Prayers of intercession
Let us pray for our world; for the worldwide effort to create a vaccine for Covid-19. For all the peoples of the world and for cooperation as we continue to live with this virus.
As we pray for our world we pray especially for those in government and industry whose decisions effect the lives of so many. And we pray for wisdom for those in power.
We pray for our own country. For the NHS and for all those involved in social care and all keyworkers, giving thanks for the work they do for us. We pray for local communities as we continue to move towards what has been called the new normal.
We pray for the whole Church throughout the world, especially churches in countries with unsympathetic regimes. We pray for our churches and ask that we may be salt and light in our communities.
We take a time of quiet to remember those who have died, especially those who have been important to us on our own journeys of life and faith.
We make all our prayers in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Watch: We Have a Lamb
Readings and Sermon
Watch: Readings and Sermon
Romans 8: 12 – 25
Matthew 13: 24 – 30, 36 – 43 The parable of the weeds
You’ve probably got really good at waiting patiently over the past few months. We’ve certainly had to do a lot of it. Waiting in the queues to get into the shops, waiting for lockdown restrictions to be lifted. Waiting for other people to pass by on narrow pavements so that we can maintain social distance. Some of you have also had the harder wait for recovery from illness. We are all still waiting, and praying, for the pandemic to be over.
In our first reading we heard part of St. Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome. Paul is writing about what we and the whole of God’s creation are ultimately waiting for and why we can wait patiently and expectantly for it.
What we are all waiting for is so wonderful it’s going to be well worth the wait. We’re waiting for God to make everything right, just as He has promised, to heal, transform and renew every part of his creation.
God has already acted through Jesus to put his broken world to rights and to restore his lost people to himself. God offers his forgiveness, his love and the promise of eternal life as his child to everyone who trusts in Jesus and wants to live in God’s way. God’s way of truth, justice and love is even now growing in the world. We are in a waiting time, waiting for God to bring his plans to completion. When this happens, when God’s kingdom is fully established on earth, there will be no pain, no suffering, no sickness, no danger, no conflict, because God’s rule will be accepted by all people.
In verses 24 and 25 of that first reading Paul writes, ‘Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.’
We need to be patient as we wait for God’s kingdom to be fully established, because it will happen in God’s good time, but we can also be certain about the outcome. Tom Wright describes it like this: ‘We wait with patience, not like people in a dark room wondering if anyone will ever come in with a lighted candle, but like people in early morning who know that the sun has arisen and are now waiting for the full brightness of midday.’
Why are we waiting? Because God is way more patient than we are and he is giving everyone plenty of time, plenty of opportunity to turn to Him and share in the wonderful promise of forgiveness, a fresh start and adoption into His family for ever.
How should we wait? People have different ways of waiting, don’t they? When you watch a queue, some people have their headphones on and are absorbed in their music, some are lost in their own thoughts, others are chatting happily to those near to them in the queue, one or two may be impatient or complaining, others are on their phones.
Paul tells us how we should be waiting as God’s people, ‘those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God’. We need to live our lives in God’s way, guided by God himself.
In the second Bible reading, we heard Jesus telling a story to show how God’s Kingdom is growing. The enemy who comes and sows the weeds amongst the wheat represents the force of evil still present in the world. This evil force may not have a tail and horns and carry a pitchfork, but it is most definitely opposed to the growth of God’s Kingdom. The continuing presence of evil, even though it is a defeated force, means we need to be on our guard against it, to be watchful in case we are led astray. The present government slogan ‘stay alert’ is important in the fight against the virus, but it’s also a good slogan for followers of Jesus at all times. The values of the Kingdom that we are called to live out in our lives, love, patience kindness, generosity, holiness, truth, are directly opposed to the values of the evil one and so we are bound to come under attack. Sometimes these attacks can be very subtle and lead us away from God’s kingdom values without us realising that it is happening. Stay alert and be guided by the Spirit of God!
The parable of the wheat and the weeds also reassures us that despite the presence of evil, God is in control. The harvest time will come and evil will be destroyed. God’s final victory over evil is not in doubt, he’s simply leaving its final destruction until the time that only he knows is right. Evil is a defeated force, defeated by Jesus on the cross, the war has been won and we have God’s help and protection in the remaining skirmishes.
The first thing we can take away from our readings this morning is that evil is present in the world and we need to stay alert against being led away from God. We need to seek God’s help and protection to keep living our lives in His way - ‘those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God’.
Secondly, we are warned against judging others – that’s not our job.
In the story of the wheat and the weeds, you’ll have noticed that the owner of the field stops his servants from rushing straight out to pull up the weeds. He tells them that, ‘while you are pulling up the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest.’
Unless you’re an expert gardener it’s very easy to mistake a plant for a weed, and vice-versa, when they are just starting to grow.
This is a good reminder to us that as Jesus’ followers we are not involved in judging people – we are not equipped to do so because we can’t see into people’s hearts and souls and know what they are really like and what their God-given potential might be. We leave judgement to God who alone is equipped to do so. We need to beware of causing damage to God’s harvest by judging people, by assuming that they wouldn’t want to respond to God. God alone knows who has the potential to turn to him, God alone sees the state of people’s hearts.
And finally, the story reminds us of the urgency of evangelism.
The landowner leaves the plants to grow and ripen until harvest time. God in his wisdom, patience and great love, is delaying the final coming of his kingdom until everyone has had plenty of opportunity to turn away from evil influences and to him. As well as evil being present in the world, represented in the parable by the weeds, so the Kingdom of God is already present with us, represented by the good seed, Jesus’ followers, the children of the Kingdom. Jesus says in his explanation of the parable that the sower of the good seed is himself, the Son of Man. The seed is already sown, the Kingdom of God is here. Luke 17: 21 Jesus says, “the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (or “within you”). The blessings of God’s Kingdom – forgiveness, salvation and eternal life with God, can be enjoyed here and now and they are offered to everyone.
Unlike the plants in Jesus’ story, people can change – everyone can change under God’s loving influence. Our role is to spread the good news of God’s invitation as widely as possible, so that everyone has the opportunity to respond to His call.
Do we feel the urgency of our commission from Jesus to spread the good news? It is vital that we share the offer of God’s love, forgiveness, freedom and eternal life with all those God directs us to. It’s a life-changing, life-enabling message that they desperately need to hear.
Three things we can take to heart from this story of Jesus today to help us to live in God’s way:
Be aware of evil influences working against God’s purposes and trying to lead us away from him. We need to seek God’s help and protection and stay close to Him in order to keep living our lives in His way. ‘Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God’.
Secondly, we need to avoid judging anyone as this can cause damage to God’s harvest. God alone knows who has the potential to turn to him, God alone sees the state of people’s hearts. God will point us to the people we should be praying for and then talking with, so that they too can come to know Jesus.
Finally, empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, we urgently need to get on with the work Jesus has given us. To spread the good news of God’s love, forgiveness and new everlasting life, offered to everyone through Jesus.
Almighty God, we thank you for your great love for each and every one of us and for your amazing patience with us.
We thank you that through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross we can be forgiven for the things we do wrong and adopted into your family. The moment we turn to you, trusting in Jesus as our Saviour, we are forgiven and we have a fresh start, we have your help and strength through your Holy Spirit to live our lives well.
Lord, keep our eyes fixed on you. Draw us close to you and help us to beware of evil influences and to keep living in your way.
Forgive us for the times we’ve judged others. Help us to see other people as you see them and to love and care for them as you do.
Fill us with your Holy Spirit, make us swift to follow your guidance and give us the courage to share our experience of you with others. Amen.
God of power,
May the boldness of your Spirit transform us,
May the gentleness of your Spirit lead us,
And may the gifts of your Spirit equip us
To serve and worship you now and always. Amen.
Watch: Love Divine