• Rossendale Circuit

A World Beyond Imagining - Sunday Service 28.02.21

with Revd David Burrow. Intercessions by David Hollows


Video Service


Watch directly on youtube here.


Part 1


Hymns & Songs:


MP 327 'Immortal, invisible, God only wise'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spE-BE23qxA


MP 590 'Seek Ye First'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsBpM9IcBts


Or this version for more ‘Alleluias’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHfzAJS7IRc



Part 2


Hymns & Songs:


MP 755 'When I survey the wondrous cross'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iK8kYlBn_qI

traditional congregational version


A bit different by Chris Tomlin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaO3XOI8P6w


Song: 'I surrender all'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7x2IpLSfqp8



Part 3


Hymns & Songs:


MP 440 'Lord of creation'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bs4_jilYgSw


MP 708 'To God be the Glory'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-15v9iworAU


'10,000' reasons by Matt Redman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXDGE_lRI0E




Want to talk more about something in this service? Have any worries or issues you want to discuss with someone?

Email us on: rossendalemethodistcircuit@gmail.com and your email will be passed on to the appropriate person. Stay Safe.



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Our Email Address: rossendalemethodistcircuit@gmail.com






Transcript

A world beyond imagining!


*Not always exact to the videos



Welcome & notices:


Back at the beginning of February I suggested different ways of watching the services and other material we produce. I thought it might be useful to offer a short reminder before our worship today:

If you’re watching on YouTube and not on our website, you can click the red subscribe button below this video which will mean you can find us more easily next time and see when we post new videos.


You can also find us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram by searching @rossendalecircuit.


On our website at www.rossendalemethodistcircuit.co.uk there are all kinds of wonderful resources and information. And don’t forget you are more than welcome to email us with requests for information, your questions about faith, or your worries.

Our email address is - rossendalemethodistcircuit@gmail.com.


And finally, we have a chat on Zoom after the Sunday service each week at 11:45am. Everyone is welcome, so if you want to join us please email us

rossendalemethodistcircuit@gmail.com and we will send you the Zoom invitation.

You can find all the information at the links below.


Opening prayer Taken from The Act of Prayer by John Birch


God of love, be the love that we find here and share with friend and stranger.

God of peace, be the peace that we find here and share with friend and stranger.

God of joy, be the joy that we find here and share with friend and stranger. Amen.


Photo by David Marcu via Unsplash


Creator of a universe beyond our imagining, yet close enough to hear a whispered prayer and hold an outstretched hand— this is our God.

We join the heavenly chorus joyfully declaring that those who seek will find and those who find will know such love and grace, beyond imagining. This is our God.

Confession: You willingly walked the path laid out for you, striding purposefully toward Jerusalem and a crowd that one moment welcomed and then cried, ‘Crucify!’

Forgive us who hesitate along the road, when our stride shortens, and our faith is challenged as we glance toward the cross.

Grant us courage and perseverance as we journey with you, for we cannot do it in our strength alone.


By faith we know you created us for a purpose, love us unconditionally and call us to follow you.


Forgive us when we fail you, raise us up when we stumble, and bless us in your service.

Thank you that your promises are always true, that your faithfulness and forgiveness can be relied on eternally, and the depth and height of your grace, even though we experience and celebrate it, is beyond our imagining. In the name of Jesus we offer our prayers. Amen


Hymns & Songs:


MP 327 'Immortal, invisible, God only wise'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spE-BE23qxA


MP 590 'Seek Ye First'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsBpM9IcBts


Or this version for more ‘Alleluias’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHfzAJS7IRc


Today’s Bible reading comes immediately after Jesus and the disciples have left Caesarea Philippi where Peter made his God inspired confession of faith regarding Jesus’ identity, “You are the Christ” he said and then Jesus warned the disciples not to tell anyone about him (Mark 8:27-30)


Reading: Mark 8:31-38 A world beyond imagining!


These words of Jesus are difficult and challenging. They are words that many people would probably prefer not to hear. They are words that could be dangerous – listen again. Jesus said, ‘For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake . . . will save it.’


We too may prefer not to hear these words, but we can’t ignore them. The meek and mild Jesus we sometimes like to think about is far removed from this story.

Jesus told Peter “get behind me Satan” and reiterates the difficult task a life of faith demands; he asks us to deny ourselves, lose our lives, take up the cross and follow him. These are big statements and hard for any generation to hear, but they are as applicable today as they were 2000 years ago.


What does Jesus mean? Do I really have to lose my life in order to save it? Surely, if I want to serve Jesus, he doesn’t want me to physically die?

Or perhaps he means I need to lose particular attitudes of mind? That would be easier. Then again, it might be my spiritual attitude I need to let go of. Or perhaps it’s all three?


Can I imagine a world where I am willing to be spiritually like Jesus, where I want to have the mind of Christ and am willing to even die for him? Or is it a world beyond my imagining?


Imagine, that word again, imagine if you can, the 3 years spent with Jesus, watching him do so many miracles, listening to wonderful stories, the crowds flocking to listen and be healed.


Imagine the fun, the banter, the mucking about with a group of young men in their twenties! Lots of fun and laughter. When I remember my teenage years as part of a group of friends, we had a ball!

But there were times when the fun stopped, and we had to get serious about life and work and relationships.


How true this was for Jesus’ disciples. Things got serious when there were confrontations with the political and religious leaders and, of course, when Jesus spoke about how he must suffer, be rejected and be killed.


Such thoughts were beyond the disciples’ imagining and so Peter rebuked Jesus. Mark doesn’t tell us what Peter said but Matthew does, “Never Lord! This shall never happen to you!” And Jesus, as we know responded by saying, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Jesus accused Peter of being more interested in “human concerns” rather than with the “concerns of God.” I don’t know about you but for me this rings very true! Peter, no doubt, had admirable desires and aims, as a leader within the group, he probably didn’t like Jesus upsetting them with all this talk of his death. He wanted to avoid the uncomfortable truth or perhaps just didn’t believe it would really happen. Perhaps, more often than we would care to admit we are guilty of trying to avoid what is uncomfortable in our faith and in our world. We like to keep ourselves and our nearest and dearest safe and happy, which is understandable, but we do this by avoiding the uncomfortable truths about the world we live in and what that means for how we worship and how we live.


Poor Peter, from hero to zero in just a few days. He really couldn't understand what Jesus was saying, how could God's Messiah suffer? It was beyond his imagining. And to make matters worse Jesus said that those who follow him must expect the same treatment!


Does our Christian life, our discipleship, look like what Jesus is saying or is it more like being a member of a social club for the middle classes? With meetings at convenient times, to make sure the roast is ready for lunch, or that the meetings don’t clash with more important things?


Is discipleship about festivals and conferences, nice music, lovely experiences and pretty buildings?



Is it about church meetings and influence? Unlikely I think all of these pictures of the Christian life are not even remotely close to what Jesus was imagining.


Jesus said discipleship is about self-denial. We are to take up our cross and follow him. We are to walk in his footsteps.


Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, ‘To endure the cross is not a tragedy . . . it is an essential part of the specifically Christian life’.


The early Christians knew all about this. Paul wrote to Timothy: ‘share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:3) and ‘Those who live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12).


Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna, burned at the stake in the 2nd century, described chains as the ornaments of saints.


Jesus wanted his disciples to understand the significance of his death, prepare for and grapple with it. Jesus also wants us to understand the full extent of what having a faith means, he challenges the very concept that our life is our own. In our current society this is counter cultural where so much is about working for our own ‘salvation’ through what we own, the profile of job we have, the holidays we go on, the house we live in… I could go on.


The Christian life stands in stark contrast to how our society measures success.

It’s all about gaining life in the world’s eyes. But at what risk? Jesus makes it clear – even if we gain the whole world – the chances are we lose our souls. That’s a scenario I don’t want to begin to imagine!


Jesus’ words about ‘gaining the whole world’ speak powerfully to 21st century society.

No wonder that to some people, Christian discipleship is way beyond their imagining.

Is it really possible to live without the latest iPhone or to be seen out, not dressed in the latest fashion?


Importantly, please note, Christians are not gluttons for punishment, there’s no virtue in suffering for suffering’s sake.

But there’s no getting away from Jesus’ words: ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’


What Jesus asks of us is huge, it is a complete readjusting and challenging of the current world view in society and it will take a lifetime to work on it, but in the meantime, do you ever wonder why God would have us follow Jesus through troubled waters?


We can’t know all the answers, but God does tell us that there is a purpose to our carrying the cross, losing our life and gaining our soul, just as there was for Jesus. It takes us to a world beyond our imagining.


Paul writing to the Christians in Corinth about his own suffering put it this way: ‘8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11 For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh.’

Carrying the cross means that when everything the world says is important falls away, Jesus still remains.

Jesus is seen in us, in you and me, and we become like burning candles, literally martyrs, witnesses to the new life found in Jesus.

Sadly, many of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world continue to be called to lay down their lives for Jesus. That’s sadly not a world beyond our imagining.

Bonhoeffer again: ‘The cross is laid on every Christian.’ So how do we take it up and follow Jesus?


Well, it’s different for everyone. We face different challenges, we live in different contexts, but for every Christian taking up our cross and losing our life means self-denial and putting God first in everything.


For some that may mean leaving home, family and career to follow Jesus – but not for everyone. We are all, however, called to speak up for our faith wherever we may be.

Taking up our cross means speaking out on behalf of the poor, against injustice, rocking the political and religious boat by speaking truth to power, just as Jesus did.

As Peter wrote, we mustn’t be surprised if we suffer (1 Peter 4) and John also tells us ‘Do not be astonished if the world hates you’ (1 John 3:13) because, if we were of the world, the world would love us (John 15:19).


If God’s people are just Christianised copies of everyone else, we will fade into the background. But Jesus called: ‘Come and die to self!’


Not because God delights in our suffering, but because he wants us to be monuments to his victory, living witnesses to the joy we find only in Jesus.

That’s a world I not only want to imagine but I want it to be a reality.

As I said earlier, there is a purpose to our carrying the cross and losing our life, just as there was for Jesus.


It takes us to a world, in this life and the next which is beyond our imagining. Hold on a moment though, because with the Holy Spirit’s help, perhaps it’s not beyond our imagining after all!


After our next two hymns, David Hollows will lead us in prayer – thank you David


Hymns & Songs:


MP 755 'When I survey the wondrous cross'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iK8kYlBn_qI

traditional congregational version


A bit different by Chris Tomlin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaO3XOI8P6w


Song: 'I surrender all'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7x2IpLSfqp8


Prayers:


As we come to God with our prayer requests for those we know and love and for the needy of our world, please offer your own prayers or use the following prayer: Father God, as we come to the end of another month and look forward to the possible easing of lockdown measures, we pray for those thousands of doctors and nurses across the world who will continue to serve especially in the intensive care units. We remember all those who are carers in a variety of situations and for all other front-line workers. Great God, we simply request your protection over them and your strength with them as they continue to be your blessing in this your world. In the name of Jesus, we pray.


Amen


Hymns & Songs:


MP 440 'Lord of creation'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bs4_jilYgSw


MP 708 'To God be the Glory'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-15v9iworAU


'10,000' reasons by Matt Redman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXDGE_lRI0E


A Blessing upon you: As you continue on your way, may you know that God goes before you. So, go in his strength to share your faith, your love and your presence with all those God places into your life just as God has shared himself with you. Amen


© 2020 Rossendale Methodist Circuit

Email us: rossendalemethodistcircuit@gmail.com