• Rossendale Circuit

Clearing Away the Stumbling Blocks - Sunday Service 26.09.21

with Revd. David Burrow


Video Service

or watch on youtube here.


Hymns and Songs:


MP 457 'Make way, make way, for Christ the King'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alCQ7fb0hEA


MP 33 'And can it be'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29myH7xXI4M


MP 683 'There’s a wideness in God’s mercy'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJwfT3SY_PU

tune: Coverdale


MP 162 'Servant King'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCAdWs-ZyEk


'God weeps at love withheld'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PK7QtjlFkk


MP 329 'In Christ there is no east or west'

https://youtu.be/TpITJOShix0


Check out the Mavis Staples version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAsE-89wNWQ


MP 1259 'Bless the Lord, O my soul'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSxocnIaN0A




Transcript


Opening Prayer:


For the strength God gives us in our weakness, we will praise the Lord.

For the courage we receive when things are hard, we will praise the Lord.

For the comfort that touches our hearts in times of pain, we will praise the Lord.

For the grace that loves us when we are wrong, we will praise the Lord.

In Christ’s name, Amen


MP 457 'Make way, make way, for Christ the King'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alCQ7fb0hEA


Prayer:


Father, we thank you for the sense of belonging and being loved we have as part of your body, the Church. The relationship we share in Christ is our hope and our peace.

We are only too well aware that as your church we are far from perfect, and our witness of your love is clouded by the mistakes we make.

Our life together is often coloured by our lack of love and understanding and too often we allow our personal preferences to damage the fellowship.

Forgive us and empower us to be your people, the salt of the earth.

You have given us the responsibility of making your love known and have commanded us to go out and bring home the lost sheep.

We thank you for our forgiveness that you have won for us in Jesus.

Set us ablaze, we pray, with the power of the Spirit that our words, actions and service will be a thank offering in Christ’s name. Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer


MP 33 'And can it be'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29myH7xXI4M


MP 683 'There’s a wideness in God’s mercy'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJwfT3SY_PU

tune: Coverdale


Jesus was in Capernaum teaching his disciples.

Earlier in the chapter we are told how they had been arguing about who was the greatest.


Issues of power and powerlessness run through much of Mark chapter 9. Power over demons, power over one another but here and in last week’s reading Jesus introduces the idea of powerlessness – using a child as his example.

Jesus made it very clear, using a child as his visual aid, that if you want to be great then you must be the servant of all and have the attitude of a child.

Only for John to appear on the scene with a question about someone, who wasn’t one of their group, carrying out an exorcism in Jesus’ name. Jesus, once again, made his views clear.


Read: Mark 9:38-50


“You can’t do that!” that’s our land, that’s our job – that’ my area of expertise! How often have you got over protective when someone else has muscled in on what you regard as your patch, your territory?

John and the other disciples were keen to stop others from doing good because they weren’t part of Jesus’ team.

This was a real stumbling block to those helping others in Jesus’ name and a stumbling block to the disciples – although Jesus had to point it out to them.

The disciples needed to learn yet another lesson about being a welcoming community and not wanting to keep the power Jesus had shared with them to themselves.

Why would the disciples want to stop someone helping others by using Jesus’ name?

Why would they want to exclude someone who was doing good and giving Jesus the credit?


If someone speaks highly of Jesus and recognises the power of Jesus’ name, then they are not going to say evil things about Jesus. Plus, it was good publicity for Jesus!

AND, if someone gives you a drink of water because you follow Jesus, they will receive a reward! Wonderful! Great news for anyone who has ever helped a follower of Jesus.

In effect, Jesus was saying, don’t knock anyone who is doing good in his name; you don’t have a monopoly on truth and power.


Those who don’t attend Church don’t judge those who do on how we organise ourselves, how many committees we have, or even if we get to church on time.

The church is judged on the kind of people it produces!


And if the church produces loving, kind, compassionate, welcoming, open hearted, patient, forgiving people then others will notice!

They might even want to join or at least offer you a cup of water!

After this exchange Jesus drew the disciples’ attention back to ‘the little ones who believe in him’ and the dangers of not only causing them to stumble but also of stumbling ourselves.


Don’t cause the little ones to stumble, to lose faith in Jesus. If you do, beware.

The millstone Jesus spoke of was a big one.

It could only be turned by a donkey and, tying stones round people’s necks and throwing them in to deep water was a way of putting people to death in Palestine and Rome!


I wonder, how many ways are there to cause a little one, a disciple, to stumble, to lose faith?


Try making a list of your own, but here’s a few to start you off: hypocrisy, anger that leads to vengeance, pride that leads to jealousy, holding on to power, and the self-obsession that makes love impossible. Then there’s not listening, being boring about our faith and false teaching.


Feel free to add to the list.


And what of stumbling ourselves by giving in to temptation?

Jesus often spoke strongly about hell. But he only spoke about the danger of hell to his disciples or to those who claimed to be religious leaders!

We never hear Him speaking about hell to the tax collectors, prostitutes or others who were described very clearly as lost sinners by everyone else in society.

Jesus spoke of hell to professed saints and of heaven to acknowledged sinners!


Where do we fit in?


Photo by Erik-Jan Leusink via Unsplash


Jesus wanted people to believe in him out of thankfulness for what was on offer: the love of God, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life.

No way did Jesus want to scare people in to following him.

But when people did come to believe he also wanted to make sure that they knew they had escaped hell and he wanted them to never go so far astray they couldn’t get back to him.


How did he do it? Easy!


He used a very popular method then, and now, of helping people remember something important.

Jesus exaggerated!


I’ve told you a million times! I could eat a horse! It’s raining cats and dogs! We don’t take these sayings literally but we know what they mean.

Jesus probably used similar sayings and when it came to warning people about the dangers of sin Jesus used hyperbole.


Cut off your hand, cut off your foot, pluck out your eye – all emphasised the need to get rid of everything that stands in the way of our relationship with God!

Jesus exaggerated because getting rid of sin in our lives requires radical surgery.

So, make sure you’re not responsible for making someone else stumble and fall into sin and make sure you don’t stumble yourself!


Clear away the stumbling blocks!

Let’s put this in a more positive light.

Instead of worrying unduly about being responsible for causing others or yourself to stumble, ask yourself: What can I do to clear away the stumbling blocks?

How can I get involved in clearing the way for myself and others to grow in faith?

How can I be, ‘a stumbling block clearing hero’ for others and myself? How do I make way for Jesus?


Don’t forget: the church is often judged on what kind of people it produces!

At the end of this passage Jesus reminded his disciples, and so Mark reminds us, of how ‘everyone will be salted with fire’.

Salt cleanses and preserves.

Salt brings out the taste in food.

We are called to be instruments of God’s cleansing, healing power, to bring out the best in others and to create a thirst for Jesus in the lives of the people we know and meet.


It’s the way to clear the stumbling blocks and open the way for others to meet with Jesus.


Don’t lose your saltiness, continue to salt your family, your friends, the community where you live, society, the whole world.


Be Jesus salt.


Clear away the stumbling blocks and make way in your life and the lives of others for Jesus.


MP 162 'Servant King'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCAdWs-ZyEk


'God weeps at love withheld'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PK7QtjlFkk


Prayers of Intercession


Allow yourselves a time of stillness to identify and remove any stumbling blocks that may get in the way of your prayers.

Lord, we pray for those who give a cup of water in your name; for those on whom we rely within the life of the church and for those whose service goes unnoticed making it possible to worship and serve you.


We pray for those on whom our community relies; for health workers and carers; for those who collect our rubbish and work to keep the streets clean; for farmers, retail staff and drivers who enable us to put food on the table. May their service bring joy to their Lord.


In the stillness add to your prayers those people you know who serve your community


Lord, we pray for those who bring peace in the midst of war, and we continue to pray for the people of Afghanistan and all who live in fear.

We pray for the refugees and others who have to flee their homes in the face of famine, earthquakes, volcanoes and floods.

We pray for the ongoing talks between governments about the climate crisis; Lord, give them wisdom and the courage to act swiftly and boldly.

We pray for ourselves who have been called to work out our faith in Jesus in the way we live our lives and how we speak about him in our words and deeds, that others may know the love of God for themselves.

May our service bring you joy.


In the name of Jesus Christ, our risen Saviour, Amen.


MP 329 'In Christ there is no east or west'

https://youtu.be/TpITJOShix0


Check out the Mavis Staples version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAsE-89wNWQ


MP 1259 'Bless the Lord, O my soul'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSxocnIaN0A


Blessing:


Go out into God’s world in prayer.

Go out into God’s world in love.

Gathered or scattered we belong in God’s family.

Today and always we belong to God. Amen


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