Service at Home on 21st June
Service at Home on 21st June 2020
for Christ Church Ramsbottom, Edenfield Methodist Church and Bolton Road Methodist Church
YouTube playlist: Service at Home 21-06-2020
As usual, the entire service can be followed on the 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 we’re going to be looking at how serving God isn’t easy but that He will always make sure that we get through the difficulties that we encounter.
Watch: Opening prayers
Before we start to pray, think about all the ways in which God has blessed you in the past seven days, because even when things are difficult for us, we still have much to be thankful for.…….
And now let’s pray:
Dear Lord, we thank you so much for all the ways in which you continue to bless us. We thank you for this beautiful world that you created, and for what you provide us with. Most of all, Lord, we thank you for your love, a love so great that you sent your son Jesus Christ to this world to die for us, so that we can enjoy an eternal life with you in your Kingdom.
When we think about how much you love us and the ways in which you bless each one of us, we’re aware of the times that we’ve let you down. We confess that we’ve done, said and thought many bad things that we know we shouldn’t have done. And we know that we've not done things that you wanted us to do. Lord, in a moment of quiet, we think about the things that we’ve done wrong and that we’re ashamed of before you, and we confess them to you now in the silence……
Lord, we’re truly sorry for these things.
We thank you that through our faith in Jesus, we can be absolutely certain that you have completely forgiven us and taken away our burden of guilt.
Lord, we know that you are always be with us, wherever we are, through the Holy Spirit. Help each one of us to become aware of your presence with us now. Help us to feel your love and forgiveness in our hearts. Help us to hear you speaking to us this morning, as you guide and teach us.
We’ll 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
Dear Lord, we pray for those who are unwell at present, and we pray for those who are worried about someone who is ill or mourning the loss of a loved one. We pray for all those who are feeling isolated and lonely, who are missing their friends and family, and are longing to hug someone again. We pray for all those who are having financial problems at this time; or worried about their business or their job.
In a moment of quiet we bring before you now those who we know especially need our prayers today…………
Lord, pour out your healing power upon each one of these people. Comfort them and guide them and give them peace.
Lord we pray that the suffering caused by the virus is quickly brought to an end. We pray that vaccines and other treatments are made available very soon. We pray that governments around the world make the right decisions. We pray that the virus becomes less deadly.
Lord, we pray for our communities and that you’ll bless all those living and working in this area. Send your Spirit so that people will come to know you and experience the love, joy and peace that you offer everyone.
Lord, we pray for our churches. We pray that you’ll help us to make the right decisions about when and how to reopen our buildings. I pray that you’ll use us to shine your light into the darkness, to show your love and joy to a troubled world. I pray that we’ll always be obedient to your call.
We also pray for ourselves. We bring our own concerns and troubles to you now in the silence……
Lord, heal us: physically, emotionally and spiritually, through the power of your Spirit living in us. Give us wisdom. Give us your joy and peace.
Watch: Faithful One
Readings and Sermon
Watch: Readings and Sermon
- Jeremiah 20: 7 – 13 read by Mike
- Matthew 10: 24 – 39 read by Lynette
Both our readings today make it clear that serving God isn’t easy. We should be prepared for opposition and painful choices. Set against that fact is the promise that God is with us in any difficulties we encounter and will make sure that we get through them. God has our back.
Jeremiah was faithful to God’s call to be a prophet, but it was at great cost to himself. He was hated and taunted and ill-treated. In our reading we heard Jeremiah complaining to God; ‘I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. -- - the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long.’
In our Gospel reading we heard Jesus preparing his disciples to take his message out and do the things they had seen him doing. I guess they were excited, but maybe also scared. Jesus has warned them that the authorities will be after them, that they will suffer.
But surprisingly he tells them that they don’t need to worry about this, frightening as it may seem. Our physical safety is precious to us, but it is not the most important thing. Jesus says, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” Jesus is referring here to the forces of evil, who are always out to destroy God’s people. The greatest danger for all of us is not the loss of our lives, but that we may be seduced, persuaded or intimidated into betraying our God-given values, turning away from God.
Father Frank Doyle writes, ‘To save our “bodies” at the expense of Truth, at the expense of Love, at the expense of Justice, at the expense of Freedom, at the expense of Human Solidarity – this is the real danger. That is the real death.’
The forces of evil are just as active against us today as they were against those first disciples. We need to stay on our guard and keep close to God. We do this by regular prayer, reading the Bible, supporting each other in living out our faith, welcoming the guidance and power of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives. When we are close to God we are so imbued with his values that we are far less likely to be fooled into deviating from them.
The disciples will be under attack from powerful people, they will be under attack by those spiritual forces opposed to God. They will face opposition much closer to home as well. In verse 34 Jesus tells them, ‘I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's enemies will be members of one's own household.’ Quoting from the Prophet Micah (7.6), Jesus warns of the painful divisions that often occur when God is at work. God is acting, through Jesus, to save humankind and there will be some who insist that they don’t need saving. There will be some people who prefer the state of affairs they’ve grown used to - however poor a state of affairs that is.
We shouldn’t be surprised if we encounter opposition and division when we follow Jesus’ way, there may well be some people who cannot accept the new things God is doing. There are always people who set themselves against Jesus’ way of justice, truth and self-giving love.
Jesus continues, ‘37 ‘Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me’. It’s a given that we should love our families and there are plenty of passages in the Bible where we are urged to love and care for them, but our love for God needs to come even before our love for our family.
This means that if a family member is trying to turn us away from following Jesus, we need to go against their wishes, painful as that may be. Our allegiance to Jesus comes before everything – even before those human relationships that we value the most. Why? Because it is by far the most important, most precious gift we have. Because our relationship with Jesus is life transforming for us and for others and it has eternal consequences.
Not everyone who follows Jesus will be cut off from their families, although this is the reality for some, particularly in places where Christians face persecution. We might, though, find ourselves at odds with our family or friends when we insist on being scrupulously honest or when we speak out or act against the wrong things we see in society –inequality, bigotry, racism, neglect of the weak and vulnerable. Jesus reminds us that we need to stand up for his values even in the face of opposition from those close to us. He says, “‘Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”
Following Jesus, living in God’s way, isn’t an easy path to take and Jesus never suggested that it would be. Followers of Jesus need to be brave and determined.
Which command is repeated most often in the Bible? Something stern? Thou shalt not? Wrong! It’s the command we heard in our Gospel reading today, ‘don’t be afraid’. Despite the stern warnings about danger and conflict ahead, Jesus still says to the disciples, ‘don’t be afraid’. He gives them two good reasons for not being afraid.
Firstly, they don’t need to be afraid because they’ve made the right choice, to follow Jesus, and one day everyone will see that their choice was right and that Jesus’ teaching and promises are true. Jesus tells them, ‘nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known’. The disciples will be vindicated because everyone will see that they have followed Jesus, the true Saviour of the world.
Secondly, they don’t need to be afraid because God loves them and is looking out for them. Jesus says to the disciples, ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.’ As Jesus’ present day disciples we too can be sure that God loves us, he watches over us and he is concerned about every detail of our lives.
Jeremiah knew the comfort of God’s presence with him too. We heard earlier Jeremiah’s complaint to God about the way he was persecuted for taking God’s message to his people. But even as Jeremiah voices the pain he is feeling to God, he can also praise God for his faithfulness and power. He says, ‘the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.’ What people see is Jeremiah, a young, rather sensitive, man, but behind Jeremiah is all the force and power of almighty God – like a mighty warrior.
John Drane writes ‘out of the crisis of his own life [Jeremiah] discovered what it meant to trust God in a personal and living way.’ Have you discovered what it means to trust God in a personal and living way?
God is with all those who serve Him. I felt this very powerfully when I was taking a particularly difficult funeral. I actually felt as though God had His hand on my back, literally holding me up so that I was able to take that service in His power.
When through following Jesus we find ourselves in difficult situations – whether physically, emotionally or spiritually – we have all the power of God’s mighty presence backing us up. Remind yourself, ‘the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior’.
Two good reasons not to be afraid – firstly, you’re on the right path. If you’re following in the way of Jesus you are living in the best way possible. You’ve been forgiven for your mistakes and failings and you are headed for eternal life as a child of God.
Secondly, you are never left to struggle on your own. Jesus is with you through the Holy Spirit to help you to live your life in his way, to protect you and strengthen you. The Lord is with you like a mighty warrior.
If we follow Jesus we can expect conflict. Conflict within ourselves as we battle temptation, attack from the forces of evil which are constantly trying to divide and dishearten God’s people, conflict within our families, friendship groups and even churches.
We all naturally prefer comfort to difficulty and challenge – who wouldn’t? That is why Jesus’ words have to be so uncompromising and strong here, to shake us up and make us aware of what our priorities need to be. Jesus wants us to commit to following him with our eyes open – fully aware of the dangers and difficulties that will ensue. And he expects our commitment to be total ‘37 ‘Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.’ Our allegiance to Jesus must come before everything else in our life and we must be prepared to lay down our life itself for him. If this sounds demanding, you’re quite right – it is – but think of what Jesus is offering you in return. A fresh start, a life lived to the full with the guidance of God’s own Spirit, a life that will continue in heaven once your life on earth is over.
In all the hardship and conflict we encounter, we have no reason to be afraid – we have Jesus’ assurance that God’s commitment to us is unshakeable and his love and care for us is all, indeed more, than we need.
Ask yourself today - are you fully committed to following Jesus? Is your life a witness to His love and power to save? Ask for his help with anything that is holding you back.
What difference does it, or should it, make to your life that the Lord is with you like a mighty warrior?
Lord, I know that you have never promised that life would be easy and trouble free. I am aware that you promised that following you would involve carrying a cross. I commit myself to trust you and to walk with you, for you have promised to walk with me for ever. I commit myself to share in the hurt and pain of others and to hold them in Christ’s love and in his name. Amen.
Keep your mind fixed on Christ, your heart on his glory, your eyes on his purpose and your ears on his voice. Be filled with the Spirit, as people of God. Amen.
Watch: Raise A Hallelujah