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Service at Home – 21st February 2021

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

YouTube playlist: Service at Home 21-02-2021

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 the Lent Cross

Watch: Welcome and the Lent Cross

Welcome and Introduction

Welcome to this Sunday’s Service at Home. This Sunday is the first in a preaching series for Lent, which will look at the nature of Jesus. During this series, church leaders in the Ramsbottom area will take it in turns to provide the teaching. This Sunday, Rev. Ian Fleming, the curate in the parish of Holcombe and Hawkshaw, looks at “Jesus - the Father’s son”.

Lighting of the Lent Cross

Lord Jesus, we thank you for spending those 40 hard days in the wilderness where you were tested and tempted, but never gave in to temptation.

Help us to learn from your example. Help us to be aware of the temptations we face and to fight them with the weapons you give us – prayer, your Word in the Bible and the help of the Holy Spirit.

Help us to grow closer to you and stronger in our faith.  Amen.

Watch: You're the Word of God the Father

Watch: Blessed assurance

Opening prayers

Watch: Opening prayers

Dear Lord, our Father in Heaven, I praise you for the love that you show me through your son, Jesus Christ. I praise you that through Jesus I can know you. I praise you that through Jesus I have that blessed assurance that I am your child - your heir who inherits salvation.

Lord, when I think of what you’ve done for me, I realise that I sometimes fail to do what you call me to do. When I remember that everyone is your child, I realise that I don’t treat your other children as well as I should. So Lord, in a moment of quiet I bring to mind the things that I’ve done wrong and I confess them to you now, in the silence………..

Lord, forgive me. I thank you that through Jesus I know that you completely forgive me. I thank you that the burden of sin has been lifted from me and that I can be at one with you.

Lord, I know that you are always with me, wherever I am. In a moment of quiet help me to feel your wonderful, loving presence close to me now……..

Lord, speak to me in our time of worship, prayer and teaching. Help me to use this time to draw closer to you. 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: No longer slaves to fear

Prayers of intercession

Watch: Prayers of intercession

Father God, we thank you that because of Jesus we can come to you as your dearly loved children and bring to you our concerns for ourselves and the world around us.

We pray for our churches and for our sister churches here in Bury, Ramsbottom, Edenfield and in the circuit.  Strengthen and renew us through your Holy Spirit and help us to work together in Your name, bringing your love, hope and healing to our community.

Lord we pray in solidarity with our brothers and sisters across the world who are persecuted because of their faith in you.  We pray for your followers in Somalia who are often persecuted because of their trust in you.  Please comfort and help them and keep their faith strong.

We pray for our nation at this challenging time.  We thank you for the vaccine that has been given to so many.  We pray against the misinformation that is circulating and we pray that those who are wary of being vaccinated may receive truthful, accurate and helpful information.  We remember before you our Prime Minister and government and we pray that you will give them wisdom and guidance as the try to steer the country through this unprecedented situation.

We pray for generosity and co-operation between the nations of the world so that everyone can receive the vaccine and the healthcare that they need.

Lord, we pray for those who are ill, at home or in hospital.

For those who are bereaved or facing losing someone they love.

In a moment of quiet we bring before you those especially known to us who are in need………….

In a moment of silence we think about our own problems and things we’re worried about or unhappy about and place these into your hands now…………

Lord, fill us with your Holy Spirit now to protect, comfort, heal and guide us.

We pray this in the name of your dear son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Watch: Do it again

Bible readings and Sermon

Watch: Bible readings and Sermon

Gospel reading: Mark 1:9-15

Epistle reading: 1 Peter 3:18-22

Sermon

Over the next few weeks, as we journey through lent and head towards Good Friday and Easter Morning, we’re going to be spending some time together, as God’s people in this place, thinking about our Lord, Jesus Christ. Because what better way to approach Easter than by sharing some time together and drawing closer to Jesus. Each week, we’re going to zoom in on one particular aspect of Jesus life or his ministry, as we hear from ministers from across Ramsbottom.

The title for this first week of our series is: Jesus – A Father’s Son. And to go alongside that title, we’ve got a few verses to look at from the beginning of Mark’s Gospel, It breaks down into three sections:

  • Jesus’ Baptism, Jesus Temptation in the wilderness, and the moment Jesus’ ministry begins with that first proclamation: The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and Believe the good news. Let’s take a look at each.

Mark 1: 9 – 11 – Baptism - If we’re thinking about Jesus as his Father’s Son, there’s no better place to start really is there? Each of the 4 Gospels records the fact that Jesus’ ministry begins at the Jordan river, with John the Baptist. There’s the heavens opened, the Spirit descending and that Voice from heaven that lays it out plainly: You are my Son, whom I love. With you I am well pleased. It must have been amazing, but I wonder, did Jesus find it an easy thing to hear?

You see, sons, particularly first-born and only Sons, they’re the ones who stand to inherit whatever their Father has. They’re the ones who will take up and carry forward the family business when the time comes. And if God is your Father… well what on earth might that mean for you? It must have been at least a little daunting, mustn’t it?

  • To sustain him though, Jesus does hear two things though. The Father, His Father, loves him, and he’s pleased with him. I think it’s crucial that Jesus hears those things at the very start of things: I Love you, and I’m pleased with you. Because we know from the Gospels that the road that Jesus is on is no easy road.
  • Not only is it a road that leads to his death – it’s also a road that will be beset by scorn and opposition, people plotting against him and trying to trap him.
  • There’s all those times when Jesus goes off to the lonely places, to spend time with God, with his Father. Did he hear those words again, do you think, in those moments when he needed the comfort of his Father’s presence: “You are my Son, I love you. I am still pleased with you?”.

Those difficulties begin almost immediately, don’t they? Mark 1: 12-13 – Temptation. That same Spirit who just came down from heaven, He almost immediately leads Jesus into the wilderness where he faces days and days of temptation.

  • I think there’s something in this that we all need at the moment. Even for the Son of God, just after that enormous high, there are lows in store. There are times when things are hard, when there are temptations in our path that seek to lead us away from God.
  • There’s comfort for us, I think, in seeing that even for the Son of God, there are times when everything seems to be against us, when the only comfort comes from knowing that you’re doing the Father’s will. Comes from holding on to the things that God promises: The Father is pleased, he loves us still, even when our circumstances make it hard to see or feel. I suspect we’ve all had days, weeks, months that felt like that this past year.

There’s comfort for us too in seeing that things don’t end there: Mark 1: 14-1 – Kingdom of God. After those temptations are overcome, there’s a ministry to begin: and Jesus almost explodes onto the scene: The time has come. God’s Kingdom is near. Repent and believe the Good news!

  • I think that’s amazing. The Father has given this calling to his Son. Jesus has shown he’s taken that calling to heart and passed through the attempts to bring him down. And now, when the moment is right, the Son takes up the Father’s work.
  • In the words at his baptism, God affirms to Jesus who he truly is. In his victory over temptation, Jesus affirms his faithfulness to his Father’s will. And then the new thing that God promised through Isaiah is here: a way in the wilderness that brings people back to God is about to be opened up.

It’s an amazing thing to see isn’t it? How the Gospels begin with the very thing we’re thinking about today: the affirmation, the confirmation that Jesus really is his Father’s Son. But let’s dig a little deeper, shall we, into what it means for Jesus to really be the Son of God?

  • You see, it’s there right at the beginning of the Gospels so we can’t miss it. Jesus is God’s son. I think I knew those words for years, decades, before I started to wrestle with what they might actually mean.
  • I think, too, that it’s something that the disciples didn’t really understand straight away. It’s so huge an idea, I don’t think they could understand what it actually meant except by putting it together, piece by piece.
  • What’s fascinating and beautiful and a blessing for us is that we see all of those pieces come together as we walk through the New Testament.

Peter, when Jesus asks “Who do you say I am?” seems to get the answer right: You are the messiah, the Son of the Living God. But on the last night of his life, as John’s records it in his Gospel, they’re still asking questions of Jesus because they can’t see all that it means. After all that time with his disciples, doing things that only God can do, saying things like “I and Father are one”, when it comes to that last night, and Jesus says he’s going to the Father, Phillip says Lord Show us the Father.

  • Jesus’s response? “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.

It's a pretty common thing really, when you think about it, isn’t it? I’m sure we all know families like that – where you look at the kids and the first thing you think is “Gosh, he looks just like his Dad, doesn’t he?” We’re all familiar, I think, with that idea of a family resemblance. But is that what’s going on here?

  • As you move further and further through the New Testament, and you watch the Holy Spirit at work in these people trying to put together all that it meant for the Lord Jesus to be born, and to minister, and die, and to rise again, we begin to see the true depth behind those words that Jesus spoke: Anyone who had seen me, has seen the Father.
    • We see it in the Letter to the Philippians: have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
    • We see it in the letter to the Colossians: 15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
    • We don’t know precisely how long after Jesus’ death John came to write his Gospel, but by the time he did, well he’d put it together too: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

When we think about Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, we’re taken a little deeper into that word that we hear most often at Christmas time: Emmanuel. When we think about Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, we start to see the truth of what it means for God to be with us. It isn’t a figurative thing, it’s the most fundamental, life changing truth: In Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son we see God himself, the whole fullness of deity in bodily form. We see God with us, entirely and completely with us.

  • When we look to Jesus Christ, we’re seeing the eternal Son, who was with God in the beginning and who is God, who is worthy of nothing but praise and glory but who, out of the depths of his love for us, chose to let go of all that he deserves in order to come to us. He chose to come to us to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves: to seek and to save us, to reconcile us and all things with the God who made us and who loves us so much that he gave his Son to give us life and to save the world through him.

What we’re seeing when we look to Jesus Christ is more than just a family resemblance. Jesus isn’t just like God, he IS God: one of the persons of the divine trinity with the Father and the Holy Spirit – inseparable yet distinct. When we think about Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, we’re thinking about the very heart of who God is and what he’s done for us. And with that in mind, why don’t we go back and take another look at those three things we saw in our reading today: The Baptism, The Temptation, and the proclamation of the Kingdom of God?

Baptism – One of the things we know about John the Baptist is that he preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of Sins. It was a call for God’s people to return to their God. But what does it mean, when Jesus wades into those waters with no sins of his own to repent of? What does it mean when God himself passes through the waters of Baptism?

  • It would take a whole other sermon to begin to plumb those depths. But I think we can see a few hints in some of those verses we’ve seen that point us towards the truth of Jesus’ divinity.
  • We know that Jesus coming to us, as one of us, was an act of pure love, and we know that he came to do something for us that we couldn’t do: to overcome Sin itself and by doing so to reconcile all things to himself.
  • I wonder if what we see in his Baptism isn’t the beginnings, or the symbol of that very thing: by taking on flesh, the work of God’s salvation has begun. By sharing in this Baptism, we see that not only is Jesus willing to share our humanity, he’s willing to enter into it even at our point of greatest need: our separation from God, our need for forgiveness and reconciliation. When we can’t come to him, God comes to us instead. He doesn’t shy away from our troubles, but stands beside us, stands in our place… and that’s where he hears, where we hear: This is my Son, whom I love. With him I am well pleased.

Temptation – When we move into the Temptation that immediately follows, and we think about the depth of what it means for Jesus to be the Father’s Son, I think we come upon the most wonderful kind of comfort and encouragement.

  • By sharing our Humanity, even in moments of temptation, Jesus shows us that God refuses to turn his back on all those moments of struggle and weakness that come to us all. And instead, by going with us into experiences, by feeling those lows and temptations for himself, Jesus does two things:
  • First, he takes all of those bits of our lives, those bits of ourselves, that we’d rather hide from God, and he folds them into what it means to be loved by God so that we don’t have to feel guilty or ashamed admitting those things before God, and can instead cry out for help. Because Christ himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted – that’s how the letter to the Hebrews puts it.
  • Second, by facing temptation and triumphing over it, he opens up a way through seasons like that. Like a good shepherd refusing to leave his sheep in the darkest valley, when Jesus Christ shares our humanity he goes with us into temptation and trial so that we can find, in our Lord and saviour, the same power that has already overcome them. That’s worth holding onto, especially at the moment when things are tough.

Kingdom of God – And finally, when we hear from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, that the time has come, the Kingdom of God has come near – well that’s the kind of good news that changes everything.

  • By sharing our humanity, Jesus Christ reveals to us our ultimate future. In the Son of the Father, the Word of God made flesh, the Kingdom of God isn’t just an idea or a distant hope: it’s a reality that began with the arrival of the King. When we look to Jesus Christ, we see that Kingdom begun, and established in this world. It’s a reality that he calls all those who belong to him to work for, to plant seeds and to help them grow so that the whole world might come to see how deep the Father’s love for us truly is: so deep that he would give his Son to be with us, to live and die entirely for us, so that through the cross and the empty tomb all things might be reconciled to God, and restored to the kind of love that a Father shows to his beloved children.

When we think about Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, it’s a reminder to us that if we want to know what God is like: how he loves us, what he’s done for us, what he intends for his world – the only place to begin is with Jesus Christ himself. The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end – everything that we need to know about God is revealed in and through him. As we go through these next few weeks together, my prayer will be that we would all be drawn deeper and deeper into the love of our saviour, that calls us home to our heavenly Father. Amen.

A Blessing

Christ give us grace to grow in holiness, to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow you and the blessing of God, the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit be with us all, evermore.  Amen.

Watch: Good Good Father

Watch: Who you say I am (Child of God)