Service at Home on 1st November 2020
for Christ Church Ramsbottom, Edenfield Methodist Church and Bolton Road Methodist Church
YouTube playlist: Service at Home 01-11-2020
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 to read the words.
Welcome and Introduction
Watch: Welcome and Introduction
Welcome to this Sunday’s Service at Home. Today’s Bible reading is a key piece of Jesus’ teaching from Matthew chapter 5. It comes right at the start of the Sermon on the Mount – so called because Jesus went up a mountain to get some space to teach his disciples. We’ll look at the glorious future God is planning for all his creation and ask ourselves – am I ready to be a part of this?
Watch: Unbroken Praise
Watch: Opening prayers
Dear Lord, I worship you as my creator; I worship you for meeting my every need; and most all of all I worship you for sending your son, Jesus Christ, to die for me as a sacrifice so that I could live with you forever in your Kingdom. Lord, in a moment of quiet, help me to become aware of your presence now with me now, through your Holy Spirit………
Lord, I worship you for guiding and empowering your church through every generation throughout the world. Teach us and inspire us through the example of those who have gone before us, those who have kept the faith and run the race, so that we can follow in their footsteps. I pray that like them we’ll respond to your call and be obedient, so that we too will inspire the generations to come.
Lord, I know that I’m not always obedient and that I end up doing things that I shouldn’t do and not doing things that I should do. In a moment of quiet I confess to you the ways in which I’ve let you down………
Lord, forgive me.
I thank you that through Jesus you have once more forgiven me and set me free from my burden of shame. 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.
Watch: In Christ Alone
Prayers of intercession by Mike from Bolton Road
Watch: Prayers of intercession
Our dear Lord and Heavenly Father, you provide for those who grieve throughout this world (both locally and afar); You bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Your faithful flock strive to become mighty oaks of righteousness.
Loving Lord, you created the trees of the fields, each with its own specific purpose. We are so blessed as each tender shoot is protected by your everlasting arms to full maturity.
As we deal with the practicalities of protecting people from coronavirus we continue to remember Our Calling to care for the others whilst always being mindful that is that our call is always to respond to the good news in Jesus. We are a people of hope and we need to declare and model good news in these difficult times. We should not be afraid “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7.
Loving God, when we are ill, strengthen us. When we are tired, fortify our spirits.
When we are anxious, help us to consider the lilies of the field & the birds of the air. Help us to fix our eyes on your story and our hearts on your grace
God of all creation, you hold the heights and depths of the earth in the palms of your hands.
You are closer to us than the air we breathe.
Fill our souls today with your wonderful love and light.
Give us strength and courage to reflect that love and light in this fallen world.
Hear us today as we pray for a world too often darkened by hatred, evil, power and greed
God of power and might, your broken world is crying out from the depths,
a world dominated by the darkness of war, terror, pain and suffering.
We share the pain and anguish of those who have had to flee from their homes, countries and livelihoods, who risk their lives, desperate for a new start free from fear and war.
May they see your light, feel your strength & power & know the truth of your promise that we shall not be overcome by this worlds dark shadows or the darkness of human nature. God of compassion & grace, we share with you our love for people in a dark place today.
We have on our hearts the friends and loved ones of the victims of violence and hatred. We pray that they will find your strength in the compassion and love of those around them.
God of life, we ask for your healing power on those who are enduring pain and illness.
We especially think of our congregation & all those we name quietly in our hearts.
We share the grief of people close to us, who’ve recently lost loved ones.
We especially think of the families of Lin, Ruth and Max.
We remember that as we weep with the grieving,
We embrace the joy of a multitude of blessings.
We know your everlasting light shines with us, in moments of great sadness and great joy.
God of love and hope, renew in us a deeper sense of who we are in you. Help us to be aware of your presence each and every day.
Make us instruments of love and praise. May our words & lives be living examples of your forgiving, healing, life-giving love.
In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Watch: Raise A Hallelujah
Bible reading and sermon
Watch: Bible reading and sermon
Bible reading: Matthew 5:1-12
Jesus is describing to his disciples what the world will be like when His work is finished. Jesus is beginning a new age for God’s people and God’s world. God is acting in and through Jesus to overturn what the world is like and to make it a wonderful place once again.
These verses call us to live now in the way that is right for God’s coming kingdom, his promised future, when heaven and earth become one and God rules over all – that future has already arrived with Jesus, and is even now growing and coming to fruition.
One Bible commentary I read said, ‘This passage shows what kingdom-ready people should be like’.
Are we kingdom-ready?
Let’s look at how we should be living.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Being ‘poor in Spirit’ is knowing that we can’t do anything to earn our place in heaven and being humble enough to accept God’s love and help and blessing in our life as a gift. We can’t save ourselves, but God has saved us through Jesus and offers us a new life as part of his family and all the help we need to live it.
Ask yourself, where do I really put my trust, in good times and in bad? Is God my first port of call or my last resort?
2020 has surely shown us how fragile life as we know it can be. Lots of things in life can let us down. God never does. If we put our trust in God, we’ll never be disappointed.
Quite a number of us from Bolton Road are doing The Bible Course at the moment. This week those of us on session 4 were challenged by this verse from Proverbs:
‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3: 5,6).
It’s the same teaching – rely only on God, not on yourself or anything else. As I thought about the verse I had to admit that I often find myself leaning on my own understanding – which is a very shaky structure to lean on.
How can we make sure that we are ‘poor in spirit’, humble enough to accept God’s love and help and blessing in our life as a gift and to follow his guidance all the time?
We can be honest with ourselves and keep checking where we’re putting our trust, bringing ourselves back to reliance on God when we realise we haven’t been doing so. God is patient and forgiving and always welcomes us back.
Prayer, as we keep on saying, is vital to keep us walking closely with God! So is regularly reading God’s word in the Bible and thinking and praying about what it means in our life, then putting it into action.
Jesus tells us that God blesses those people who depend only on him. They belong to the kingdom of heaven!
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Jesus promises that those who are sad now, will be comforted and blessed by his Father God. This means people who are sad because they know they have done things wrong and they are sorry – they are blessed because they can know that they have been forgiven by God.
It also means people who are grieving because of all the bad things that are happening in the world – they are blessed because they share God’s sorrow over the brokenness of the world and they know that God is acting to make all things new and right.
And ‘those who mourn’ also means people who are grieving because they’ve lost someone they love or because they are ill or suffering themselves.
We may be struggling ourselves at present, we all know people who are having a really hard time. As Christians we know that God is in this with us. He offers us his comfort and help every hour of every day. We also know that we are travelling towards the wonderful future that Jesus went to the cross to bring us. This good news needs to be shared, sensitively and appropriately, with our friends and family who are hurting so that they too can know God’s help and blessing.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
This continues Jesus’ theme of complete dependence on God. The Asbury Bible commentary defines a meek person in this way, ‘Meekness involves the rejection of all forms of worldly power, such as violence, manipulation, or cunning, to achieve one’s ends. It may seem that those who employ such devices have their way on the earth. But the person who views life from God’s perspective knows that in the end the heavenly Father will give the earth to those who submit humbly to his methods and rule.’
To be meek or humble is not to be weak, but to be wise enough to know that you don’t have all the answers and to live your life in obedience to God – who does.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
You’re blessed if you’re desperate to see injustice and suffering eliminated from the earth.
Who do you know who is like this? Who do you know who hungers and thirsts for righteousness? When I read this, Marcus Rashford came to mind because of his campaign to ensure that no child goes hungry. I also thought of the work of Porch Boxes and the work with the homeless at the Manna House.
If you’re broken hearted about injustice and suffering, if you’re working and praying to put things right, then you’re blessed because you’re aligning yourself with God’s purposes. God’s kingdom of justice and righteousness where there is no more suffering or death, is already growing all around us and God will finally establish it, renewing the whole of His creation and making it perfect. How blessed to be on God’s side and joining in his work of making his kingdom grow!
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
We’ve already been blessed and blessed again by God, countless times, as He forgives us freely the things we do wrong. We are called to show the same patience, love and forgiveness to those who’ve upset or annoyed us or done us harm. We’re seeing a lot of condemnation in our society at present as people criticise and judge others. Let’s make sure that we remember the mercy shown to us and reflect that in our behaviour towards others.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Being pure in heart means being totally devoted to doing what God wants us to do. No divided loyalties! If we press on, guided by God, filled with His Spirit, we will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
If you’ve seen the Monty Python film, The Life of Brian, you’ll remember the scene where a large crowd was listening to Jesus preaching the sermon on the mount, but of course the people on the edge of the crowd were struggling to hear correctly. Someone reported that Jesus had said ‘Blessed are the cheesemakers’ to the confusion and puzzlement of those in the crowd around them. Just a bit of fun, but in real life misunderstandings can be at the root of a great deal of conflict and division. When we fail to listen well to other people and to understand where they are coming from, we can cause division rather than peace.
Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker – he put us first and made peace between us and God by his death on the cross. Even though we were the ones doing the wrong things, God came to us, in the person of Jesus, to make peace between us and God.
We need to follow Jesus’ example, putting the interests of other people before our own and being willing to make sacrifices to bring peace and understanding.
Being peacemakers starts in our own homes and families.
If we’ve fallen out with someone, can we make the first approach to put things right? Even if it’s not our fault?
Can we be the ones to go to our friends/family/school friends/work colleagues first and make peace with them?
Romans 12: 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Jesus calls us to a way full of God’s blessing, but also a way of self-sacrifice and possible suffering as we encounter opposition to God’s way. This is reflected in the last few verses of our reading:
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
If we find ourselves under attack because we’re followers of Jesus, we can rejoice because it means we’re headed the right way. Whatever we encounter, we have God with us and He will see us through.
Are you Kingdom ready? You might like to look again at the Bible reading during the week and think and pray through the verses, asking God’s help to rely on Him completely, to repent of the things you do wrong, to work with God against injustice, to forgive as you have been forgiven, to bring peace where you can.
God will help us to be Kingdom ready if we ask Him. The Holy Spirit will work in us to give us the help, strength, guidance and most of all the love that we need to live in His way.
Watch: Build Your Kingdom Here
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.