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Service at Home – 24th January 2021

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

YouTube playlist: Service at Home 24-01-2021

As usual, the entire service can be followed on this YouTube playlist without the need to look at these sheets. However, you may want to 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 we’re looking at Jesus calling his first disciples to follow him.  We consider why they made such a life-changing choice and what we can learn from this.

Watch: So will I (100 billion times)

Watch: As the deer pants for the water

Opening prayers

Watch: Opening prayers

Dear Lord, it is indeed my heart’s desire to worship you. My soul longs after you as you are my strength and my one true hope. I do indeed love you more than anyone or anything else, as only you give me the peace and joy that I long for. I love you because you save us from ourselves and offer us a full and eternal life in your Kingdom.

Lord, when I think about what you do for me, I’m ashamed that I sometimes disobey you and I’m sometimes selfish. Lord, in a moment of quiet I think about the things I’ve done wrong, and the things that I haven’t done that I should have done, and I confess these things to you now in the silence…….

Lord, I’m truly sorry. Lord, forgive me.

I thank you that through the sacrifice that Jesus made for me, I know that I have been completely forgiven and the burden of guilt has been removed from me.

Lord, help me to remember that you are with me now. Help me to feel your presence with me, help me to feel your love surround and fill me……

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: Living Hope (there's salvation in your name)

Prayers of intercession and Psalm

Watch: Prayers of intercession and Psalm

Prayers of intercession by Susan from Christ Church

Heavenly Father, as we come to you in prayer, our hearts cry out to you for the many situations we have seen and heard about in the last week, we bring just a few of our concerns to you now, knowing that you are a loving and compassionate God.

Lord, we long to see an end to this pandemic….

-  That countries will freely share their knowledge and resources to combat this deadly disease.

- That the vaccine will be rolled out quickly to protect us all from this virus and all future strains.

Loving and compassionate God stop this virus right now, and instead may we see your love spread throughout the world. Bring unity and cooperation between nations, Guidance and wisdom to those in authority and pour out your healing touch upon our world.

Lord, we pray….

- for the USA amidst the riots and political upheaval, we have seen during the election of their new president,

- for Indonesia following the earthquake and plane crash, that have devastated peoples lives as they mourn their dead.

- for Somalia amongst ongoing armed conflict, lack of state protection and recurring humanitarian crisis

Loving God, Bring Peace, reconciliation, Hope and unity to these troubled countries. Bring wisdom and guidance to their governments, comfort and strength to those that mourn.

We pray for our own country, as we battle with all that it’s having to cope with at the moment….

-for industries having to get to get to grips with new import and export procedures, especially those in the fishing and fresh produce industry.

- for the NHS as it struggles to cope with the demands that it is facing.

- for Teachers and education departments having to adapt on a daily basis to changing situations.

- for the numerous companies going into liquidation and all those whose jobs are affected.

All knowing and seeing God, provide help and resources were its needed, Giving guidance and reassurance, wisdom and a calm approach to tackle these situations, that they will find ways to speed up processes and provide support to those that need it during these challenging times.

We pray for….

- all those that work in the NHS, especially those that are known to us. For all the staff at our local vaccination centres, hospitals, GP surgeries and Hubs, ambulance staff and also our police, and army personnel as they provide help and support.

- for the isolated, lonely, depressed and those finding it hard to cope

- for local businesses who are struggling and looking for ways to adapt their business

- for our children, young people and families

- for those we know who are battling any type of illness or those who grieve

Compassionate God, place your comforting arms around these people, may they feel loved, comforted and strengthen with the hope that knowing you brings.  Shower them with your Holy Spirit to bring healing and may they experience times of quiet and calm to help restore energy levels and provide a clear head when having to make decisions.

And finally, we pray for ourselves. Help us to Rest in You, renew our hearts and minds, enrich us with your love and peace. Our Hope comes from you so let us put our trust in you now. You are our refuge and strength, help us feel your arms protecting us, and prepare us to face whatever the future holds.   In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Reading: Psalm 62: 5 – 12

Watch: Raise A Hallelujah

 

Gospel reading and Sermon

Watch: Gospel reading and Sermon

Reading: Mark 1: 14 – 20

Sermon

‘The time has come’ Jesus said, proclaiming the Good News of God.  The time has come for God’s rescue plan for humankind to be put into action.  God was acting, through Jesus the Son, to save all people from the shame and death that are the consequences of our wrongdoing.  God was reaching out in love to all the world through Jesus, to reconcile everyone to him.  Everyone would be invited to live under God’s protection and in God’s holy way.  The time has come – and a response is needed from each and every soul, ‘Repent and believe the good news!’ Turn back from living for yourselves and live in God’s way of generous love.  Trust that God can and will save you.  Trust that you are loved and included in God’s plan.

It’s a joyful message, full of God’s hope, love and blessing, but an urgent one that demands a response.

In our reading we then saw the response of Jesus’ first disciples.  Jesus met them at their place of work and called them to follow him and work with him.

We heard, ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.

It’s a dramatic, life-changing decision the fishermen make.  Their families had probably fished the Sea of Galilee for many generations.  Their whole lives, from being young children, would have been lived in the expectation of taking their place in the family business, continuing it for the next generation.  It was a big responsibility, other people depended on them.  We know, even from the brief description in Mark’s Gospel, that the Zebedee family business had employees to care for.  When we read further, we discover that Peter is married, the others may well have been too, they had families to support.

Leaving their work behind to follow Jesus was a huge decision.

Yet the way Mark tells it, the decision seems so straightforward, so matter of fact: Jesus called them so they went with him.

If you read the Gospel of John, you’ll see that Peter and Andrew, had already met Jesus and all four fishermen may well have heard his teaching.  Perhaps their response to his call, leaving everything to follow him, was the end product of thoughts and feelings they’d been mulling over for days or weeks, or perhaps it was a sudden, overwhelming reaction that surprised even themselves.  Either way, they responded to Jesus’ call and in their case it meant leaving homes, families and work to follow Jesus.  If it was a straightforward decision for them, it certainly wasn’t an easy one.  They may well have been honoured and excited to follow Jesus, but they followed Him into an uncertain future.  What did they see in Him, what was it about Him that led them to do this?  The answer is in Jesus’ message and in Jesus himself.  They must have sensed that what Jesus was offering them – the good news from God – was worth far, far more than anything they could aspire to themselves.  They had met Jesus and their lives could never be the same again.  Following Jesus meant sacrifice, but no price is too high to pay to follow Jesus – what Jesus gives us is worth far more than we can ever offer him in return.

Jesus still calls all people to follow him.  His invitation to follow him is for you and me and anyone who will listen and respond.  If we decide to follow Jesus, we may have to give up things, just as those first disciples did, but what we receive from Jesus is worth way, way more.  We’ll be following Jesus into an uncertain future, but if you think about it, all our futures are uncertain because we don’t know what will happen this afternoon, let alone months and years into the future.  The past year has made that fact even plainer, we’ve been living with a lot of uncertainty and sudden changes to our lives.  We have hopes and plans but no way of being sure that they’ll be fulfilled.  If we follow Jesus we are walking hand in hand with the one who holds the future and whose hopes and plans for us are greater than we could ever dream of.  If we follow Jesus, we put our trust in God’s promises which are always fulfilled.

Our first reading from Psalm 62 reminded us that God is the only one who can be relied on:

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I shall not be shaken.
My salvation and my honour depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

God’s love for us never fails, he is utterly trustworthy.  He alone saves us, protects us and gives us hope.

Following Jesus meant sacrifice for those first disciples and it will mean sacrifice for us too – there may be things that we need to give up in order to follow Jesus.  We can be assured that they pale into insignificance compared to the blessing and fulfilment of following Jesus.  Saint Paul commented in his letter to the Philippians that he had given up everything to follow Jesus, but that he considered the things he’d given up as rubbish compared to the wonder of knowing Jesus. ‘What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him’ Philippians 3: 8.

Following Jesus also means change and growth.  Our lives can’t and shouldn’t remain the same when we come to know Jesus.  Our behaviour has to change and with God’s help we need to keep growing more like Jesus in our character.  Following Jesus isn’t a hobby, something you can just do when you feel like it, when it fits in with your other plans, it’s a way of life.  Our whole life has to be dedicated to living in God’s way and serving God by doing the things he guides us to do.

Some years ago I did my day skipper theory at night school.  I went to college one evening a week for a year and learned all about sailing a yacht.  I learned the meaning of the different navigating lights and signals, how to plot a safe course, what dangers to be aware of, how to calculate the tides and many other useful things.  At the end of the year I took the exam.  I passed and got my certificate!  Then I had to put the theory into practice!  Without the practical application, the theory was worthless.

It’s the same with following Jesus.  It’s important to read the Bible and to learn about our faith, but we also need to put Jesus’ teaching into practice – to live our whole lives by it and actually do the work God calls us and equips us to do.

Following Jesus means being willing to make sacrifices, changing our behaviour with God’s help and living our lives in the way Jesus taught us to live, prompted by God the Holy Spirit to do what God guides us to do.

Those first disciples left their old life behind, but God would build on their existing skills and experiences.  ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’  God uses our past experiences. He will even redeem the bad times we’ve had and bring good things out of them.  He takes us as we are, with our scars as well as with the skills and gifts He’s given us, to work with Him for his kingdom of justice, love and peace.  Nothing is wasted!

Jesus has called us to be his disciples, his followers, but he will also keep calling us to specific tasks as his followers.  Sometimes Jesus’ call and our response is sudden and dramatic.  Sometimes it’s a persistent whisper that grows and grows in us until we can no longer ignore it.  So, like those first disciples, we should always have our ears open to hear what God is calling us to do next.

What is Jesus is calling you to do at this point in your life?  Keep your ears open to listen to what God is saying to you.  He will speak to you in many ways – through the Bible, during your prayer time, through Christian friends, through worship and He will also be guiding you as you take steps to put His call on your life into action.

 

Prayer

Saint Ignatius said that there are very few people who realise what God would make of them if they abandoned themselves into his hands, and let themselves be formed by his grace.

Lord, we ask for the grace to trust ourselves totally to Your love.

Lord Jesus, help us to hear your call on our lives, ‘Come, follow me’.

Take a few moments of quiet to listen to Jesus in the quiet of your heart.

Lord Jesus, help us to break free from familiar routines, the expectations of others, the anxieties we feel and give us the courage to follow you in the whole of our lives, to do the things you are calling us to do.

Help us to see that anything we need to give up is worthless compared to what you give to us – forgiveness, peace, the assurance of your love, a certain future lived in your loving care that will last for ever.

Keep us attentive, walking closely with you and listening always for your guidance and challenge.

Through the gift of your own Holy Spirit living in us, change us and mould us to become more like you each day.  Amen.

Watch: Oceans

Watch: Potter's Hand