Blue Monday - Audio Service 23.01.22
with Revd. David Burrow
Or watch on youtube here.
Subtitles available on the video, please click the 'cc' button.
Suggested Hymns & Songs:
'Blue Monday' by New Order
MP 760 'When we walk with the Lord'
MP 746 'What a friend we have in Jesus'
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Hello and welcome to this audio service by the Rossendale Methodist circuit. What you'll hear shortly is a recording of a service that usually takes place at Longholme Methodist Church in Rawtenstall on Tuesday mornings at 10am. This is a live recording. So do expect some background noise, although we've tried to reduce this as much as we can. The hymns unfortunately have to be removed for copyright reasons. We've suggested some links to versions of the hymns below this video. This week service is entitled Blue Monday and you're hear Revd. David Burrow begin service now.
What was yesterday? Blue Monday, hence Blue Monday. Oh never mind. I thought I'd give it a try. Some fell on stony ground. But there you go. Yeah, yesterday was Blue Monday.
So called in 2004. Even though that record came out in 1984. Blue Monday was officially designated Blue Monday in 2004. Sky travel decided that they would ask a psychologist to come up with a scientific formula for the January Blues, as if you could, and and Blue Monday is what he came up with and supposedly the most depressing day of the year, the third Monday in January. It's no more, scientifically blue, than any other day of the year. There are no more people with sort of illnesses that might be put down to the Blues as it were, if you like, than any other day of the year and it was just a publicity stunt to get bookings up for the holiday company. Wasn't it, that's all it was. But today, I mean there are people who really sort of speak out against calling it Blue Monday. Because once you label something, you know I can do all kinds of damage can't it.
But on the other hand, it's got people talking about mental health issues as well. So the time to make it into a positive to get people talking and sharing how they feel, and you can feel pretty blue anytime of year can't you?. You know, you can get up feeling great. And then suddenly life throws you a curveball. You know the phone rings and you get some bad news, sad news, and the day becomes very blue indeed. And you don't really have to look around too widely. To see where they're suffering and pain in your own families. You will know people are having a tough time. You don't have to go in outside that small circle. If you had a new ticket out into your local church, your local community you could soon decide that I'm gonna wake up in the morning and not get out of bed. Because there's so much blueness if you like around the place such pain and suffering because there's always someone for whom you could probably say it's Blue Monday, whatever the day of the week, whatever the time of year. And it would be easy for me to go on and on and depress us completely this morning.
But that's not what we're here for, of course. We don't want to do that.
The apostle Paul was in prison simply because he was a Christian speaking out about his faith. And he could have said well this is a bit of a Blue Monday for him and become sort of all introverted and inward looking and feeling really really down and upset and sorry for himself, but he didn't. You know, the authorities had felt threatened by his words. And the way that those words stirred up the people, sometimes in favor of him, most often, sadly against him. Even in the depths of his prison cell Paul was able to write to the church in Philippi 'Rejoice in the Lord always again, I will say rejoice.' Even from the depth of his prison cell. You might go Wow. You know, I mean to all intensive purposes he had nothing to rejoice about. And yet rejoice is exactly what he did. He rejoiced because he was walking with the Lord in an intimate relationship. He walked closely to his Lord, and he knew Jesus as his friend and his savior. That intimate relationship that he had with Jesus could overcome anything.
Wonderful, walking with God in the light of His word. Let's pray. Almighty God, we thank you for all that you have done for us in and through Jesus Christ. We thank you for the wonder of creation. We thank you for its beauty, and its diversity. We thank you for all that surrounds us and we thank you, for the people with whom we have such wonderful relationships, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you for that promise that together we are your people. And you are God. Lord, forgive us we pray when we stray from that way, from when we walk away from you, walk in the way of what is not right. Forgive us and call us back to yourself, open our ears that we might hear you speak to us. This is the way, walk in it. Open our hearts that we might love as you want us to love, open our minds that we might meditate upon you and upon your word.
So forgive us when we go off on our own thing, do our own thing. And we thank you that in Jesus Christ as we, as we come back to you, as we hear your voice as we open our hearts and minds and our lives to you. You welcome us back with open arms you, forgive us and set us free once more to be your people. We thank you that even in the depths of our own prisons, you are there with us, enabling us to speak with you and to hear you and to rejoice in your presence.
Photo by Jakub Kriz via Unsplash
So Lord bless us now we pray as we read your word and as we think about these things, for we ask it in Jesus's name, Amen.
When you read through your Bibles, you come across all kinds of characters and personalities. Of course. You know, one who has been foremost in my mind over the last few weeks has been Jeremiah because of the Covenant services and all the Covenant services that I've been taking, one more to do on Sunday and then that will be it for this year. Unless we do one in September, but that's another story.
So Jeremiah what a character. People sometimes refer to those who never seem to have anything positive to say as a Jeremiah don't they, oh you Jeremiah! No? never heard it? Oh yeah, good. Might not have heard of New Order but you've heard of Jeremiah, that's good. When you've heard of new order. That's fine. You win some you lose some, don't you?
(I've heard of Jeremiah but I've not heard that.)
Yeah. Yeah, that's it's I guess it's the circles you move in. In my house, it's more likely to be, they won't call me a Jeremiah they'll just call me grumpy. That tends to happen a bit. Sometimes, even when I start speaking my youngest son will pretend to get the hoover out because I'm hoovering up all the good feelings and I get the message straight away that I have to be a little more upbeat. You know those moments when anyway, so whenever I see a Hoover now you know.
And then of course there are those people who are a bit like if you've read the Prisoner of Azkaban you know Harry Potter or you've seen the film, the Dementors suck the very life out of people. Sadly, there are people like that aren't there, and Jeremiah could be accused of that sometimes sucking the life out people from some of the things he said, but that was because he was being faithful to God and telling people they had to repent, they didn't like being told they had to repent, they didn't like being told they had to come back to God. And so poor old Jeremiah, you know, you could say that Jeremiah could have often said it's a Blue Monday today, you know, as he found himself once more in prison, down the well when he got thrown down the well. Sinking in the mud. Thankfully there was no water in it. And somebody came along eventually and recognised him when he was being dragged off as a captive to Egypt against his will and then finally taken into exile.
Poor Jeremiah, you could have said he'd got every right to be a grumpy old man to be, to be a Jeremiah if you like. And yet, even in the midst of all of this, you know, even in the midst of all of this, there's some wonderful words in Jeremiah you know, he speaks about the joyful return of the exiles. He speaks of joy, what God will do for his people, when they come back to him.
And you know in Jeremiah 31 the New Covenant that he speaks about. And you've heard it, I hope you heard it already this year apart from Rakefoot because they've not had it yet. 'The days are surely coming' says the Lord, 'When I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. They'll not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors. When I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. A covenant that they broke though I was their husband says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days says the Lord, I will put my law within in them and I will write it on their hearts and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another or say to each other. Know the Lord, for they shall all know me from the least of them to the greatest says the Lord for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin, no more.'
Know the Lord. they shall all know me, that walking with God, because we know Him because He has revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ in this New Covenant, the joy, the promise, the hope, in the midst of you know, people who were really having a tough time and it was the same for Paul. There he is back in prison, still in prison, telling us to rejoice. Always, in all circumstances, always to rejoice. You know, it could have been a very Blue Monday for him, but it wasn't. So what was the secret of his joy?
Well, Philippians chapter four verses four to eight starts with those words 'Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. The Lord is near.' And just let those four words resonate around your mind, the Lord is near, wherever you happen to be, at any time of day, the Lord is near. And he goes on to say, 'do not worry about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Think about these things.'
If we want to face up to, avoid, recover. from a Blue Monday or the equivalent on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, it seems that Paul has the answer for us. The answer is prayer, prayer. Prayer because it keeps us close to God and reminds us that in Jesus, we know the one who loves us so much that he was willing to die for us. He is with us, the Lord is near and someone once defined prayer, as love on its knees. Prayer is love on its knees. Our commitment, said, wrote someone, 'Our commitment to intercessory prayer is probably not waiting for some explanation of how it works. But for a love and a passion great enough to drive us to our knees.'
I wonder what does it take to drive us to our knees in prayer? Prayer is love on its knees. Paul mentions two types of prayer in this passage, petition and intercession and together Paul refers to them as supplication as supplication. So let's take them separately. So first is petition. Petition is generally when we pray for ourselves, well, say people I don't pray for myself, the number of times I've heard people say that. I don't pray for myself. And I just want to weep when people say that, the Bible makes it very clear that we should come to the Father with all our needs and all our desires. Ask. Seek. knock. Give us today our daily bread. Yes, if these are not prayers for ourselves, what are they? If two of you agree, if two of you agree about anything you ask it will be done for you. How much more will your Father give good things to those who ask? You know, prayer is putting ourselves into the fathers hands, surrendering to God opening ourselves to receive his gifts and speaking with him about everything that is on our minds, including ourselves.
Paul put all of this into it's proper pers- it's easy for me to say - Paul put all this into its proper perspective, when he wrote to the Philippians, and he impresses on them and so on us too that they are not to worry about anything. Which for Christians then included imprisonment, as Paul was in that case, including flogging including constant persecution, and even death. Don't worry about anything and all that's going on. You know there were times in the early church of terrible persecution, just as there are today, of course. And yet instead of worrying, staying awake at night wondering what on earth to do if that happens. How on earth will we manage if this happens? You know, much of which won't happen anyway. Instead of all that worrying, says Paul, bring it to God in prayer.
If you do, God will make sure that his peace he says in this letter to the Philippians he says 'his peace which is so great it surpasses our understanding.' You know, we can only only just begin to understand it we can't understand it in all its depth and wonder. He said that 'peace, his peace, God's peace will keep constant guard over your hearts and thoughts in Christ Jesus.' Prayer for yourself is like putting a guard says Paul at the doorway of your mind and that guard is God's peace and the word he uses, the word we will translate for cricket fans, umpire, God's peace stands as an umpire saying what's it or what's out in your mind. So when you've got God's peace about things, it's like having an umpire there saying, oh we're not having that coming in, that can come in, but that can't.
And as long as you don't dismiss that guard of peace by forgetting to pray, worry will struggle to find a way in.
Well, that's easy to say. And it is, it's easy to say isn't it? But the thing is, it works. I've tried it, it works. You can overcome worry. And if you can worry, somebody, I read the other day, if you can worry. You can meditate. And if you can meditate, you can pray because worrying is simply meditating on the things that bother you. It's the same process as meditating on things that are good. It's just reframing it isn't it, rethinking. So if you're a good worrier, you can be a very good prayer. So take that gift of focusing on in something and focus in on something positive. Like God, and like praying for yourself. Praying for peace, praying for all the things that you want to pray for. Because prayer is love on its knees.
When we tell people love yourself, love yourself. People don't tend to go for that do they. They feel that's a bit selfish. But what we're talking about is not something to do with preening and posing. Look at me. Aren't I lovely. Wonderful, cool and smart and all those kinds of things. See, when Jesus commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves, he means what he says. You know, you see your neighbour struggling. You want to help them. You do the same for yourself when you're struggling don't you, if your neighbour comes because they've run out of food, you give them some food. You feed them like you would feed yourself, you do for them you do to others as you would have them do unto you. You love yourself in the same way as you love your neighbour says Jesus you, but that's the command, love your neighbour as you love yourself and that really you know, makes you stop and think because the way I treat myself I'm supposed to be treating my neighbour so I'd better get on and do it. You know, and who's my neighbour? Well, that's the whole story of The Good Samaritan isn't it, everyone is our neighbour. But it does, but we forget about that bit about loving ourselves.
And love for ourselves happens when we recognise our own value before God. God says in the words of the famous advert, you're worth it. You're worth dying for, you're precious in my sight. You are my child. You're the apple of my eye. All of these phrases are biblical ones that God says about you. You are precious in my sight. You are my child, and I am willing to die for you. And if Christ loves me enough to die in my place, then I must be worth loving. And I must be worth praying for. And that love drives me to my knees to pray and make my requests. When we bring our requests to God we find that he refines and purifies them as we discuss them with him. We might end up getting something completely different, than we started off asking for because what we asked for in the first place was not what we really needed. But God refined it in that conversation with him so we work out exactly what it is. Your two year old child comes to you and says I want the carving knife. You know, you don't give it to them. You talk about it and the dangers of it and things, except in Papua New Guinea when you just give it to them because they're used to dealing with knives at that age in Papua New Guinea. But, you know, what somebody requests is not necessarily what they need at that moment. God knows what we need. God knows what's best for us. So we need to pray for ourselves, sometimes just simply to find out what God wants for us. And that's a really good thing to pray for. So we need to be clear about our requests our we need to be specific about our printed prayers. We need to be sure about what we want and know what we're going to do with it. If God says yes. You know you're praying for a new job or something.
Be careful that you know exactly what it is and where you want to be. And you know what you're asking God for? For example, it's no good asking God to give you the gift of preaching if you're not willing to get out there and use it. Just as a simple example.
Likewise, don't ask God for healing. If you're really quite happy with everyone feeling sorry for you. That might sound silly to say but there are people out there who are very happy when people are feeling sorry for them. And if they were better and fully fit. No one felt sorry for them. They'd be very upset. That's why Jesus said to people that he was, you know, obviously he'd be healing. What do you want me to do for you? What do you mean what you want me to do? Are you sure?
Because if I heal you, you're gonna have to get up and work for a living. You can no longer sit by the roadside and beg. Think about it very carefully. And it's rude to ask for something and not expect an answer because God will answer. God will answer, yes no, maybe. So I would suggest you keep a record of your prayers that you're asking, you're praying for yourself. Keep a record and it'll surprise you. You know, when you look back over the way those prayers have been answered. Count your blessings and see what the Lord has done. Because prayer for yourself is loving yourself. Prayer is love on his knees. And then intercession the second one praying for others. If I was to say, that a circuit prayer meeting is going to be held every third Monday in the month. It'd be interesting to see how well it was attended a handful of people would turn up faithful, because we know that people are not that interested in coming together for prayer meetings.
So if I had to say that the circuit prayer meeting, what is there to motivate people to come out to pray? In that statement, circuit prayer meeting. There's nothing in that call to prayer that drives us to our knees is there, there's nothing passionate about it. It's a sort of title that means very little is too ordinary. There's nothing to love in it. But suppose there was something we really loved, cared about with a real passion what a difference it would make.
I remember, very early in my ministry in Manchester, there was a little boy when he was born not long after he was born, he was diagnosed with leukemia. And when I arrived in Manchester as a brand new, wet behind the ears probation Minister, I was told there was going to be a prayer meeting for him. By this time, he was about two years old, and and that I would be leading it well it was a bit of a challenge. So off I went, and the place was packed, absolutely packed. Praying for Christopher and we had these regular prayer meetings week in week out and nobody fell away. Because prayer was love driving us to our knees. For Christopher and for his mom and his dad. Sadly, Christopher died when he was four. And the church was overflowing. But the prayer had changed people. And within a year his mum and dad were back at Christies where Christopher had been treated, getting alongside other parents in the same position that they'd been in, walking with them and spending time with them. Still in faith, it's amazing isn't it when something really important, when there's something that will drive us to our knees to pray.
You know going back in time again, to the foot and mouth, disease and outbreak, the one that happened after I'd been here a couple of years. We had a service upstairs for those who were suffering from foot and mouth, and it was short notice, I put it out on local radio, put it out on every kind of public place I can think of and thought maybe a handful of people will come and upstairs there was hundreds, well not hundreds maybe, maybe best part of 100 people there but not just people who were church members but people who come from, who run a caravan site. People come from outlying farms, because here was something that affected their lives and they were passionate about, love drove them to these things to their needs. And it was one of the most sort of, wonderful services I've ever had the privilege of leading, when there's something to really sort of get us going. Something that we feel passionate about, you know, the refurbishment of the church I mean the prayer meetings you had for St Mary's, they were fairly popular weren't they. When it was refurbished, that was something special as well.
Prayer is love on its knees. There's a lovely little article in the book I've got called the mother prays for her wayward son. And it doesn't have to just be a mother because I've been in this place as a father as well. But we'll stick with the mother for now 'when the mother prays for her wayward son, no words can make clear the vivid reality of her supplications her love pours itself out in insistent demand that her son must not be lost. She will not give him up. She does not think that she is persuading God to be good to her son. For the courage of her prayer is due to a certain faith that God also must wish the boy to be recovered from his sin. She's rather taking on her heart, the same burden God has. She takes her place alongside God in an urgent, creative outpouring of sacrificial love. How prayer works, she does not understand, but she still prays on. Her intercession is the utterance of her life. It is love on its knees.'
It is love on its knees, as I say I've been in that place for my son as well. When you've got something you're really passionate about something you're praying in God's will because you know that God wants people to be saved. You know that God wants people to be, to have life in all its fullness. You're praying in the will of God. And when you become passionate about that, then that love will drive you to its knees. Prayer is loving enough to want to wrap your arms around a situation or a person and hold them close to bring them to yourself and to God in love. Intercessionary prayer isn't easy. It demands the total investment of our of our whole lives. Because when we pray sincerely and honestly for others we become unselfish, as the blessing of the other becomes our main desire. That's what we want more than anything.
That other person to be blessed and in that we ally ourselves with God, for the sake of the person that we care about, and those, those purposes that we want to serve.
Praying for people brings you to love them, loving them leads you to serve them and serving them is the open door through which God can move in to save, to heal and to make whole.
I've written down that prayer is the answer to Blue Monday but it's more than that isn't it, prayer is the answer to blues to the blues full stop. Prayer is the answer to worry, prayer is the loving response to God's love for us. Because prayer is love on its knees. Prayer is love on its knees.
On Friday, last week I was at, well me and Jackie were both at a funeral. My uncle's funeral for mom's eldest brother. And as I'm the eldest nephew, I've known him for 64 years. So we were pretty close and I'm the eldest of 26 grandchildren as you probably know, so it was a big funeral. Chapel was full the, village hall was full for the overflow. And my Uncle Tom's younger. one of his younger brothers his youngest brother spoke of the service. And he spoke wonderfully, absolutely wonderfully. And he began his sermon with by saying what is death? Then he spoke about how Tom have lived his life as a farmer and as a shepherd, and come to know Jesus as the good shepherd. And of course that psalm finishes with the words and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. And so he took all of Tom's life and up in the Bleasedale Fells and used psalm 121 'I will lift my eyes to the hills from where does my help come, my help comes from the Lord. Now Tom had often as he was shepherding his sheep, would have lifted his eyes and he used to have to look around and see the hills. But Tom's face when that when Les asked that question, what is death? The answer was, it's a new beginning and a new life. Turned it around. So that we saw it as it truly is. And there was probably not a dry eye in the house at various times. But there was that wonderful knowledge of God's presence that sense of hope and the joy even in that place as the coffin was there before us. That joy of knowing that Tom was with his Lord and with his wife who died a few years ago, Marjorie. So that together they could celebrate, and Les said if you could just get a little glimpse of heaven right now we could see that they're there together, walking together with their Lord.
So prayer was easy. Pray was at that moment. So let us pray, sadly we've lost a lot of brothers and sisters in Christ over these last couple of months, we've lost family members and we know people who've lost family members. So let us pray for that sense of joy in the lives of these people and that knowledge of the fact that, 'I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever' so I will leave a time of silence and pray out loud or pray silently it's entirely up to you and we'll close with the Lord's prayer.
So let us pray, Lord God we thankyou for your presence with us now and we thankyou for the gift of your holy spirit, even when we find it difficult to have the words to say as we pray, the holy spirit intercedes for us, on our behalf. The groans that are too deep for words. And father we thankyou that when we are lost for words, we are lost in wonder love and praise or we're drowning in grief and lost in that darkness sometimes Lord, so often a blue monday for us but we thankyou for the gift of prayer and the gift of your presence and that we can with Paul rejoice in that presence. So father we bring to you now the situations that we face as we pray for ourselves, we pray for the church and we pray for the world. Father we pray that you would just hear our prayer as we bring them to you now in Jesus' name, Amen.
Father we lift Shirley's daughter to you and we pray for her, we pray for healing and for wholeness, and we pray for the family, that they might be aware of your presence and the knowledge of your love, that they might know your peace, and father as we pray for Shirley's daughter we pray for others who are sick and again we pray for healing, pray for healing in body and mind. Most of all we pray that the knowledge of your love for them will be something that they can experience and hold onto and that they might know that peace that surpasses all understanding, that peace at the knowledge of your love and your grace and of your mercy. Father we pray for all those who grieve, we pray for comfort the infilling power of your holy spirit that they too might know your peace. And Lord we pray for ourselves that as we walk with you we will enjoy and rejoice in that relationship knowing that no matter whatever situation we find ourselves in, that you are there with us. We thankyou for those words, the Lord is with you. Just as you were with Paul in that prison, you are with us every moment of everyday, Lord may we never ever forget that and Lord may the concerns and troubles of life never hide that fact from us. May we always hold tight to that promise, fill us again we pray this morning with your holy spirit that we might continue to walk in your word and continue to rejoice in your love and in that relationship that we have with you, thanks to Jesus' life, death, resurrection and ascension and the gift of your spirit, for we ask it in his precious name, Amen.
We join together in the Lord's prayer, 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 who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver them from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever and ever, Amen.
Let's share the grace together, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the holy spirit, be with us all, evermore, Amen.
Thankyou for listening and we hope you enjoyed the service, you can find us online on www.rossendalemethodistcircuit.co.uk and also Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, please do let us know what you thought of this service in the comments below and you can always contact us by email at email@example.com