Sunday 22nd March 2020
Service at Home
for Christ Church Ramsbottom and Edenfield Methodist Church
Sunday 22nd March 2020
Welcome to this first “service at home”. It would be great if we could all do this at 10:30am on Sunday morning so that we’re doing it together spiritually even though we can’t do it together physically.
The important thing to do is stay positive. Remember that even if we can’t worship in our buildings we’re still a church – united in worshipping, praying, listening to God and loving our neighbours.
As the current situation with coronavirus is no doubt at the forefront of all our minds, probably accompanied by some fear and worry, I thought we’d look at two well-known passages from the Bible that speak to us about this. They remind us not to let fear and worry wear us down and instead always remember that above all else, God loves you, and that this is all that really matters. I hope that you find it helpful.
You’ll need your Bible.
I’ve included some links to worship songs that you may wish to listen to (and an opportunity to learn some that you might not be familiar with). They will obviously sound a lot better if you can listen through speakers, headphones or television.
Let’s start by saying the following prayer out loud, perhaps with other members of your household, or silently in your head. Or say your own prayer if you wish.
Dear Lord, I worship you as my creator and provider. I worship you for your power and grace. But most of all I worship you because you love us so much that you sent your son, Jesus Christ, to this world as sacrifice for me. I thank you that through Jesus I am saved and have life – life to the full in your Kingdom forever. I thank you that you love me just as we are – with all my faults and failures. Your love means everything to me.
Lord, when I think about how much you love me, I realise that I often fail to love you and fail to love other people as much as I should. And because of this, I confess that I do, say and think things that I shouldn’t – and I don’t do things that I should.
Lord, in a moment of quiet, I bring to mind the things that I’ve done wrong and the things that I’m ashamed of and, Lord, I confess these things to you now…………
Lord, forgive me.
I thank you that I’ve been completely forgiven through the sacrifice that Jesus made for me, and that you’ve set me free.
Lord, I know that you’re always with me and that you will never abandon me. So Lord, help me to become aware of your presence here with me now…………..
Open my heart to your love. Open my mind to what you want to say to me.
If you want to, say the Lord’s prayer:
Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your Name.
Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.
I invite you to think of the things that you’re thankful for amid all the doom and gloom. Never mind how bad things seem, I’m sure that we all still have things to be thankful for. That you’re well enough to be reading this, for one.
Now thank God for these things and give Him praise.
Click the song to watch a youtube video
Open your Bible and read Matthew 6 verses 25 to 34.
Think about what Jesus is saying to you through these words about the concerning situation that we’re in.
You may want to read the passage again, more slowly, dwelling on what Jesus is saying to you about the current situation and your response to it.
Let it really sink into your heart, so that these words of Jesus dwell in you throughout the coming weeks.
Now turn to Romans 8 and read verses 31 to 39.
Read verses 38 and 39 again but this time add coronavirus to the list: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation including coronavirus, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Yes, I know that’s a bit cheesy, but I think it helps us to grasp the point that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing at all. Whatever this world throws at us, we can always continue to enjoy the “love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. How do we know that God really loves us? We know because God the Father sent His son, Jesus Christ, to this world to die for us on a cross as a sacrifice. He did this because God loves us and doesn’t want to be separated from us.
When we feel God’s love in our hearts through His Spirit, we also know that His promise of eternal life in His Kingdom is true. And compared to the prospect of an eternal life in His Kingdom, what else really matters?!
You might think that 12 weeks in self-isolation feels like an eternity – but it isn’t. It’s only 12 weeks. God’s promise of eternity really is eternity – never ending. And what joy we’ll experience with our Lord in His Kingdom – eternity won’t seem long enough!
You can experience that joy and peace now, living in God’s Kingdom on earth. You can do that by putting your faith in the truth about Jesus and inviting the Holy Spirit to live in you to write that truth on your heart.
I invite you to say this prayer:
Dear Lord, our Father in Heaven, I thank you so much for sending your son as a sacrifice for me, so that I can know how much you love me and so that I’m not separated from you by my sin. I thank you so much for your promise of eternal life in your Kingdom. I know this promise is true because of the love you have shown through the death of your son. I thank you for the peace and joy that I have when I trust you and believe your promise.
Lord, I do put my trust in you. I do believe. Help me to always remember that absolutely nothing can ever separate me from your love.
Lord, thank you for sending me your Spirit to write the truth about your love and promises on my heart. Lord, fill me afresh now, I welcome you to live me. Take away my fear and worry. Fill me with love, joy and peace. Come Holy Spirit, fill me afresh…………
Thank you, Lord.
I suggest that you continue to think about what you have just prayed and spend a short while enjoying the feeling of God’s love filling you and changing you…………
Offer up all your concerns to God now and ask Him to heal you and help you in whatever way you need………..
God is with you. Listen to God speaking to you. Perhaps words of encouragement and reassurance………..
I now invite you to pray for others.
For your friends and family that might be ill or having problems.
For everyone who is ill or has lost a loved one.
For everyone who is having financial problems because they have lost their income because of everything shutting down.
For everyone feeling lonely, bored or stressed because of the isolation.
For everyone who does not know God’s love at this time of worry and that we can find ways to show His love to them.
And now pray for the work being done to stop the virus.
For governments around the world to make the right decisions.
For doctors and nurses – for wisdom, strength and their own protection.
For work being done to produce extra medical equipment.
For the work on a vaccine and treatment.
(I feel that this last one is especially relevant at the moment and if you want to hear the moving background to this song watch the video here – but have a hanky ready if you’re an emotional softy like me).
Let’s finish with these wonderfully encouraging words from Jesus, from John 16 verse 33, which Joanna Connor shared earlier in the week while I was writing this:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
I pray that God will bless each one of you and keep you healthy throughout these coming weeks. I pray that the words of the Bible that we’ve heard will uplift you and sustain you; and keep you strong mentally and spiritually. I pray that through Jesus you will experience true peace. Amen.
More opportunities to join others in prayer
In the face of what’s going on we may feel powerless but we’re not – because we can pray.
This Sunday there’s a national call to prayer by Churches Together in England, when we’re invited to place a candle in our windows at 7pm as a sign of hope in our neighbourhood. Read the message here
There’s also the Greater Manchester Prayer Gathering on Thursday at 7:30pm, to pray for “our nation and the world”, which will now be a Facebook live event. Search for Greater Manchester Prayer Gathering on Facebook.
And finally, Ben Connor has chosen this song, which beautifully reminds us that Jesus is always there for us and that we need to “carry everything to God in prayer”, so that we’ll experience peace in our hearts.