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Service at Home – 30th August

Service at Home on 30th August 2020

for Christ Church Ramsbottom, Edenfield Methodist Church and Bolton Road Methodist Church

YouTube playlist: Service at Home 30-08-2020

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. This week we’re going to look at what a follower of Jesus should be like.  How should a Christian behave?  What sort of person should a Christian be?

Watch: O Praise the name (I cast my eyes to Calvary)

Watch: Light of the world

Opening prayers

Watch: Opening prayers

Dear Lord, we are indeed ready to worship you this morning, wherever we are. We worship you because you are the Light of the World who stepped down into the darkness of this world, to save us from our sin by dying on a cross. We worship you for your love.

When we think about how much you love us, we realise that we sometimes fail to reflect your love as we should. When we think about what you do for us, we realise that we sometimes ignore your call on our lives and withhold our time and gifts. Lord, we’re sorry that we fail to love and act as we should. In a moment of quiet we confess our sins to you now, in the silence.

Lord, forgive us. We thank you that through your sacrifice, we know that we have been forgiven and that the sin that weighs us down has been lifted from us.

Lord, open our eyes to let us see the beauty of your creation and the work of your hand. Open our minds to the certainty of an eternal life with you in your Kingdom. Open our hearts to your love and forgiveness. Lord, help us to feel your love surround us now, through your Spirit living in us. Amen.

And now we’ll 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.

Watch: Reckless love

Prayers of intercession by Margaret from Bolton Road

Watch: Prayers of intercession

In faith let us pray to God our Father,

In the name of His Son, Jesus Christ,

And in the power of the Holy Spirit.

God of Love, we pray for the life of your Church throughout the world.

The prayer is from the Methodist Prayer Manual although written for Italy could be for all countries of the world. Today we are asked to pray for ‘all your children in Italy, especially second and third generation migrants born there. When they feel disconnected from their parents’ culture, unite them with you. When they are told they don’t belong in Italy, assure them of a place in your heart. Holy Spirit, may they know in their hearts that we are all children of God. Help them to uncover the treasures of their bicultural heritage. Help them, and Italian society, to celebrate diversity, for in heaven ‘all tribes and peoples and languages’ will stand before your throne.

Your Kingdom come. Your will be done.

God of mercy, we pray for the life of the world for countries who do not have access to health care that we have during this pandemic. Please provide them with everything they need via the many aid agencies.

For those who exercise power, for hour by hour decisions that need to be made by our leaders that they will use all resources available and wisdom to make their decisions during this pandemic.

Show us how to live as members of the human family; to reject the ways of war; to bear each other’s burdens and work together for justice and peace.

Your Kingdom come. Your will be done.

God of compassion, we pray for those who are ill or anxious or in hospital for members of Edenfield, Christchurch and Bolton Road. (Silence) We pray for those whose lives are filled with fear and despair…

From the Methodist prayer manual:

Lord, be near to all who wake with feelings of dread:

the child cowering at the approach of an abusive parent;

the teenager scared of being bullied online;

the young person, far from home, sold for prostitution;

the hopelessly addicted, desperate for a fix;

the prisoner facing torture for their beliefs

the elderly, living alone, with only memories for company;

and those who wish they could sleep again,

from which there is no awakening.

Help us to empathise with their needs and give help and support wherever possible.

Draw near with your saving love and bring healing and hope.

Your Kingdom come. Your will be done.

God of glory, we rejoice in the communion of saints; we remember all who have died in Christian hope. (silence) Help us to follow their example and bring us with them into fulness of eternal joy.

Your Kingdom come. Your will be done.

Merciful God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as pass our understanding; pour into our hearts such love towards you that we, loving you above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Gospel Reading and Narrative

Watch: Gospel Reading and Narrative

Reading

Matthew 16: 21 – 28 Jesus predicts his death

Narrative

“The day he called me Satan”

Watch: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Epistle Reading, Sermon and prayers

Watch: Epistle reading and sermon

Reading

Romans 12: 9 – 21 Love in action

Sermon

Last week’s readings focussed on what the church is and what worship is.  Today’s readings follow straight on from them and give us a picture of what a follower of Jesus should be like.  In order to be a Christian, how should you behave?  What sort of person should you be?

Well first of all, we learn that being a follower of Jesus means doing things God’s way, not our way.  Our reading from Matthew’s Gospel comes just after Peter and the other disciples have told Jesus that they know who he really is - the Messiah, the Son of God who would save his people.  We see that they didn’t understand how he would do this.  They expected him to gather an army and march on Jerusalem, to kick out the Romans and install himself as king and they were up for that, they couldn’t wait for the chance to fight at his side.  It must have been hard for them to understand when Jesus explained how he must suffer and die and then be raised to life again.

Peter is horrified and says to Jesus, ‘Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!’

Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’

Jesus doesn’t mean that Peter is actually Satan, but that Peter is tempting him to turn away from the hard path he knows he must follow. Frank Doyle writes, ‘Unwittingly and with the best of intentions, Peter is doing the devil’s work – trying to steer Jesus away from the path laid out for him by his Father. How often have we been such a temptation or stumbling block to others? Perhaps more often than we care to think’.

Jesus went willingly to the cross for you and me and all people to bring God’s love, forgiveness and new life to everyone who trusts in Him.  Jesus calls us by name to follow him – and that means being ready to share in His suffering and it means giving our whole life to God’s service, just as Jesus did.

Peter, with the best of motives, concern for his friend and leader, tried to dissuade Jesus from the course of action he needed to take.  I think that, like Peter, we can sometimes find ourselves doing the Devil’s work, reassuring each other that our limited discipleship of Jesus is fine as it is.  The truth is, if we aren’t following Jesus wholeheartedly, if we aren’t applying God’s values and guidance to the whole of our lives, if the love of Jesus isn’t the motivation for everything we do, then we can’t really call ourselves Christians at all.

Have you been persuaded that it’s ok to take an easier path than the path of self-giving that Jesus calls you to?  Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that anything less than the whole of your life is a good enough offering to Jesus.

As the hymn says, ‘Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all’.

Jesus says to the disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

It struck me as I was preparing for today that we can’t take up our cross if our hands are already full.  Is there stuff cluttering up your life, maybe weighing you down, that you need to get rid of so that you can take up your cross – offer your whole life in service to Jesus?  God is ready to help you with that if you ask Him.

That bit about ‘denying ourselves’ doesn’t mean suppressing our personality, but letting ourselves go so that we can really find ourselves, our true and best selves as God created us to be.  It’s about getting rid of our selfish urges, which make us less kind and loving than we were created to be and also less adventurous than God wants us to be.  Instead, we need to let ourselves be guided by God himself through God the Holy Spirit living in us and working through us.

How hard it must have been for the disciples to grasp that what seemed like a defeat, Jesus suffering a criminal’s death on the cross, would become the greatest victory of all time – the victory over sin and death, freeing not only their own people, but all people.  The gates of heaven thrown wide open for everyone who trusts in Jesus.

God’s way is often different from the way we think things should be done.  His way of thinking is different from our way of thinking.   Time and again we see the proof that God’s way of thinking is also far better than anything we could have figured out and accomplished by ourselves.  So following Jesus means doing things God’s way.  We have God’s Holy Spirit living in us to help us to do this, to prompt our thoughts, to guide us and inspire us.

If, guided by the Holy Spirit, we think in the same way that Jesus did, then we’ll see our lives in terms of loving and serving others and not in the pursuit of self-centred or even family-centred ambition. We are called to a life of generous, self-giving, overflowing love.  It’s described in part in our reading from Romans – meeting other people where they are and always with blessing and peace and generosity, no pride, no paying people back when they hurt us.  Living in the quiet confidence that God has won the victory over evil and will put everything right in the end.

To be true disciples of Jesus we need to

  • live in God’s way, not our way
  • give our whole self to Him
  • leave behind anything that is getting in the way of our wholehearted service.

The difficulties of these last months have given us a clearer perspective about what is important in life.  Those whose work is caring for or serving others have been rightly valued.  Communities have come together to care for their more vulnerable members.  I hope we’ve all, and I include myself, learned to be a little more patient with difficulties, a little kinder to one another.

The way of love and service and being a caring and inclusive community is God’s way.  Could it be that the kingdom of heaven is growing amongst us, even in these difficult circumstances (or maybe even because of them)?

What will happen when this crisis is over?  What would you like the ‘new normal’ to look like?  Some people might go back to acquiring more and more possessions, striving for a better social position or just pursuing pleasure. You can never have enough though, can you – there’s always someone with a bigger and better car or house, a newer or nicer kitchen, a more exotic or luxurious holiday.  The pleasure we get from any of these things is fleeting, it doesn’t last.  That’s something else we’ve seen during lockdown – how a good job and comfortable lifestyle can suddenly disappear through redundancy or sickness.  What happens if illness strikes, or you’re made redundant - what reserves of inner strength have you got to draw on, who has your back when you are at rock bottom?

If you live the life that Jesus calls you to, you will have the inner strength to keep you going during tough times.  You will be able to draw on the strength of God himself through His Holy Spirit living in you and working through you.  Jesus himself has your back!

It would be easy to go back to living our lives for ourselves and our families and ignoring the difficult demands Jesus makes of his followers.  He doesn’t ask us for an hour or so on a Sunday, He asks for our whole life to be laid down in service to God.  This isn’t because he’s demanding, it’s because he loves us and knows that it’s the best way we can possibly live.

What would you like the ‘new normal’ to look like?  I would like to see those signs of the growth of God’s Kingdom that we’ve seen during lockdown continue and increase.  I’d like to see God’s Kingdom growing like wildfire here in Bury and across our nation.  His Kingdom grows through our ordinary lives laid down in service to him – will you be part of making this happen?

Jesus calls us to a life like His, a life lived for others, a life of self-giving love.  It isn’t an easy life, but it is a truly satisfying and transforming way to live. When you value what you have as gifts from God; when you are dedicated to serving others – to putting their well being before your own, secure in Jesus’ promise that he will take care of you; when you know that whatever life throws at you is insignificant compared to what Jesus has given you and his promises for your future, then you are really fully happy.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

In order to follow Jesus we have to keep moving forward in faith, you can take some steps today and see your faith grow as you trust God to guide you and change you through his Holy Spirit.

Try looking again at the reading from Romans and working through it and applying it to your life – is my love for God and others genuine?  Does that love show in how I’m living my life? Am I persistent in prayer?  How can I offer hospitality to strangers, even while distancing?  You may want to work on one thing at a time.

Take a step of faith today and decide to live your whole life in Jesus’ way of love and service, working with Him to grow God’s kingdom right here where we live.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, forgive us for our half-hearted discipleship.  We ask you now to take your rightful place at the centre of our lives as Lord of our whole lives.  Help us to leave selfish desires behind, take up our cross and follow you.

Lord, we pray that you will fill us with your Holy Spirit and guide us to work with you to grow your Father’s kingdom right here where we live and work.  Amen.

Blessing

May the love of the Lord Jesus draw us to himself,

May the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen us in his service

May the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our souls

May the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be amongst us and remain with us always.  Amen.

Watch: Potter's Hand

Watch: Build Your Kingdom Here