Service at Home on 5th July 2020
for Christ Church Ramsbottom, Edenfield Methodist Church and Bolton Road Methodist Church
YouTube playlist: Service at Home 05-07-2020
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 we’re going to be looking at the very human problem of getting stuck in the rut of doing the wrong things that we often don’t intend to do and deep down don’t even want to do. And we’re going to hear how God can and will rescue us from that mess.
Watch: How great thou art
Watch: Opening prayers
Dear Lord, our God, we praise you for all the wonderful things that you provide us with and do for us. We praise you for the wonders of this world, containing all that we need to flourish. We praise you for our friends and family and all the joy that they bring us. Most of all we praise you for sending your son, Jesus Christ, to this world to die as a sacrifice for us. We praise you that through Jesus we can have life, life to the full, for all eternity in your Kingdom.
Lord, as we think about all that you’ve done for us, we realise that we often let you down by not obeying your commands or your calling on our lives. We know that we often fail to love you and fail to love others as we should. We bring to mind what we’ve done wrong and confess these things to you now in the silence……..
Lord, forgive us. We thank you that through the grace of Jesus each one of can know that you will always forgive us and wipe the slate clean, again and again.
Lord, we know that you are always with us, wherever we are, so we know that you are with each one of us now. Help us to become aware of your presence now. Help us to feel your love, peace and joy in our hearts. Speak to us through this service. 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.
Watch: Reckless love
Prayers of intercession by Susan
Watch: Prayers of intercession
Heavenly Father, we come before you with our prayers of intercession and bring them in faith, hope and love.
Our hearts are overwhelmed with this pandemic that we and the world are facing, it is something no one has had to deal with before. Each one of us, having a different experience, or being affected in different ways.
We pray for our government and the governments of the world. Give them wisdom in controlling this virus and our economies, help them to quickly deal with any hot spot areas that start to reappear, and may they have compassion to help the most vulnerable in our communities. Help them to work together to share their knowledge and experiences, and that any vaccine or cure will be made freely available to all. Lord In your mercy Hear our Prayer
We pray for all those who are suffering from the virus, those still dealing with the aftereffects that can be so debilitating, those grieving for loved ones. Lord may they know your healing power and love.
We pray for those who feel lost, isolated, lonely, weary, frightened and anxious; for those in debt, or without a job, or for those whose business has failed and those concerned about returning to work, as places begin to reopen; and for our children and young people, whose education has been disrupted and the teachers who will have to deal with the aftermath.
We also pray for all frontline staff, especially NHS workers and cleaners who have continued to work night and day putting themselves at risk. Compassionate God, show them your light and love, that they might get all the help, support and protection they need.
We will just have a few moments of quiet in which to name those people and places that are close to our hearts and need our prayers …………
Lord We lift all those we have named to you now. Comfort and hold them, surround them with your loving arms. May they know your Peace, Hope, reassurance and love that knowing you brings, and bless each one of them now.
Lord we pray for all the situations we have seen or heard about in the last few weeks of violence and disorder. Bring your healing and Peace upon our communities. Give them protection and enable them to find a way forward through these tragedies’, with strength and love, may your Holy Spirit descend on them and us, that more people will turn to you. Lord bless these communities and bring about change.
Lord we pray for our churches: that you will give guidance and wisdom to our Minister or Pastor and officers or stewards, as they look to how and when to reopen our church buildings, and how that will look, so that it can be a safe place for us and our communities to once again come together. But in the meantime, thank you for the services at home that have kept us praising, sustaining and worshipping together.
Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer.
And finally, we pray for ourselves: renew us afresh, give us strength and courage to face new challenges, help us to be your light in the darkness and inspire us to seek and share Christ’s love with others.
In the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Readings and Sermon
Watch: Readings and Sermon
Romans 7: 15 – 25a
Matthew 11: 16 – 19; 25 – 30
Our readings today present an age-old problem and reveal a wonderful solution.
In his letter to the Christians in Rome, Paul laments the fact that although he wants above all things to live in God’s way, he keeps on messing up. He writes, ‘what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. -- I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.’ Sound familiar? It certainly does to me! It’s frustrating and depressing, however hard we try, we keep on doing things wrong – letting anger, greed, hate, selfishness, or whatever else we are particularly prone to, get the better of us. In fact it’s more than just frustrating and depressing, our behaviour has eternal consequences. The things we do wrong build a wall between us and God, cutting us off from Him. However hard we try, we can’t rescue ourselves from the mess we’re in, we need a Saviour. Paul continues, ‘What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?’ He then answers his own question with a shout of praise, ‘Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!’.
We don’t need to stay trapped in the consequences of our own wrongdoing and failures, we have a Saviour. Jesus has taken the burden of our wrongdoing, our guilt and shame and dealt with it on the cross. When we realise that we can’t rescue ourselves from the mess we’re in and ask for His help, he will save us.
What is our Saviour Jesus like? We see in our second reading that Jesus is full of love and joy and compassion, longing to gather everyone into the family of His Father God.
In verse 25, Jesus bursts out in praise of his Father God for the wonderful way he chooses to make himself known to ordinary people. Anyone, whatever their age or level of education can come to know God. A small child can know God as well as a scholar can. How can this happen? God shows everyone what he is like through Jesus. They can all get to know God and receive his love and mercy by getting to know Jesus and spending time with him. It’s the same for us now – all the love and power and glory and mystery of God is shown to us through Jesus – we just need to spend time with Jesus, to know his Father God and to be filled with God’s love and blessing. No complicated theories, no umpteen step programmes are needed. It’s people who make things complicated, make it seem hard to know God, make other people jump through various hoops in their search for God. The Pharisees and teachers of the Law did this in Jesus’ day and it still happens today. I guess some people do this because they like exerting power and authority over others. I guess some people accept these unnecessary restrictions because they find it hard to believe that God could be offering such wonderful things so freely through his Son. Well please believe it – Jesus is offering you forgiveness for the things you do wrong, a place in his Father’s house forever, his companionship and guidance to get you there, the chance to be filled to overflowing with the love and goodness of God all the way through your life as you journey to a closer and closer relationship with God. Not long after his words to the crowd in the reading we’ve just heard, Jesus will go to the cross for you to prove this is true.
In verse 27, Jesus tells the crowd, ‘‘All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him”.
This makes it clear that it is through Jesus, and only through Jesus, that God can be truly known. This isn’t a narrow, restrictive policy, this is wonderful news for us and for everybody. Jesus, who is one with the Father, sharing the same nature, wants to share the close relationship, the intimate understanding, that he has with his Father with each one of us. We can be adopted into God’s own family, become his sons and daughters, learn from Jesus how to live in the family’s own way, have God’s Spirit flowing through us, changing us into the better, freer, more loving people he created us to be. This is amazing love.
Listen to the wonderful invitation Jesus then extends to all his listeners (and that includes us and everyone). Verses 28 – 30, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’
A yoke is a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plough or cart that they are to pull. Jesus’ first listeners would be well accustomed to seeing animals harnessed in this way working the fields. It was also used as a metaphor for being a servant or slave of something or someone.
Tom Wright explains why Jesus uses this metaphor here, ‘The Pharisees had spoken of people being called to carry, ‘the yoke of the Torah’, the heavy burden of the Jewish law with all its commandments.’ It was pretty much impossible for people to keep all the commandments all of the time, they were bound to fail and then be burdened with guilt and the object of criticism. Jesus offers a yoke which is easy to bear because it comes from his love, his understanding of what it is like to live a human life and his great compassion.
Now you might be thinking, hang on a minute, only a couple of weeks ago we read Matthew chapter 10 and Jesus was warning everybody about how hard it is to follow him, how we have to be prepared to face opposition, to give up everything, even our own life. Now we’re hearing him say that he’ll give us rest from heavy burdens and that his yoke is easy. So which is it? Well it’s both. When we come to Jesus and decide to follow him, it does mean being prepared to give up everything, it does mean putting him first and not allowing anything or anyone else to distract us from living in his way. But because of who Jesus is, because he embodies the perfect love and kindness of God, following him is also a delight. He is offering us all of the love and blessing God wants to give us. We do find rest and refreshment and joy in following him. When we abandon ourselves to Jesus, we are in the safest, most wonderful place we could possibly be.
If we decide to follow Jesus, he has promised to be with us always, to guide us and to help us. Jesus sets us free from all the things that weigh us down. The heavy burdens he was talking about in our Bible reading today. He sets us free from guilt – we are forgiven; free from worries – he will help us; free from the anxiety of not knowing what the future holds – he will guide us. Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”. Being set free by Jesus means that new things are always possible – we don’t have to accept the state of affairs as they are. He brings hope for change in us, in our circumstances and in the wider world.
Following Jesus doesn’t mean trying and failing to live by a complicated set of rules. Jesus said, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus is our Saviour, we need to simply trust Him and to love him in return. Then we will want to live in his way. Jesus will provide us with the help we need to do that when we spend time in his company, taking time to learn from Him each day. Living as a follower of Jesus is living at peace with God and with yourself. Jesus said, “you will find rest for your souls”.
Jesus is present with us now. Close your eyes and picture him smiling at you. He loves you just as you are. He says, “If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest.” Lay down at his feet whatever is holding you back, weighing you down. Accept the freedom that Jesus is offering you now.
Go, and know that the Lord goes with you: let him lead you each day into the quiet place of your heart, where he will speak with you; know that he loves you and watches over you – that he listens to you in gentle understanding, that he is with you always, wherever you are and however you may feel: and the blessing of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – be yours for ever. Amen.
Watch: In Christ Alone
Watch: The UK Blessing