• Rossendale Circuit

Crazy Love - Sunday Service 06.06.21

with Revd. David Burrow

Video Service

*This is the complete service it is not split into parts as usual.

Watch on youtube here.

Hymns and Song Suggestions:

Songs for the beginning of the service:

MP 200 ‘Great is thy faithfulness’


MP 307 ‘I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart’


Songs for after the first set of prayers which fit in nicely are:

MP 115 ‘Do not be afraid’


MP 795 ‘You laid aside your majesty’


Songs for after the sermon might be:

MP 1003 ‘My Jesus, my Saviour’


MP 67 ‘Breathe on me breath of God’


Songs you might like to finish with:

MP 445 ‘Lord the light of your love is shining’


MP 376 ‘Jesus put this song into our hearts’


Other Links

Our Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuzuzxmGWU4e_xRupJilppg

Our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/rossendalemethodistcircuit

Our Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/rossendalecircuit/

Our Website: https://www.rossendalemethodistcircuit.co.uk/

Our Email Address: rossendalemethodistcircuit@gmail.com


'Crazy love’

Welcome and introduction.

We are doing things a little differently this week. Instead of splitting the service up into three parts with songs between each part we are going to do the prayers, reading and sermon as one piece and add a list of suggested hymns and songs which you can use wherever you wish.

So, feel free to begin with a song and end with a song, or pause me and enjoy a song or two, part way through – it’s entirely up to you.

Two hymns which make for a good beginning to this service are:

MP 200 ‘Great is thy faithfulness’

MP 307 ‘I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart’

I’ve given this week’s service the title ‘Crazy Love’. It’s not my own invention but is taken from a book by the same name – but more of that in a few minutes.

I’m going to begin our worship with Psalm 138, a Psalm of thanksgiving and praise


Wonderful God, today we celebrate you. We celebrate your creation. We thank you that at the beginning of time you breathed life into us.

We thank you that today you live amongst us, walking with your creation day by day.

We come to you in worship today God, ready to listen to your word and respond in love.

Forgive us we pray for the times when we have failed to protect your creation; when we have ignored your presence and failed to offer you the worship of which you alone are worthy.

Forgive us for not loving others as you love us.

Open our hearts today God, that we might love you and love our neighbour.

Fill us with your Holy Spirit and with the excitement and joy that comes from knowing Jesus as our friend, our Lord and our Saviour. For it is in his name that we pray, Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Photo by Genghis via Unsplash

Reading: Mark 3:20-35 Jesus by the sea at Capernaum

Before we get into this Bible passage I wonder if you have ever read ‘Crazy love’, by Francis Chan – I referred to it earlier. It is an inspiring book that is well worth reading and one that I obviously lent out and now have no idea where it is! The person I lent it to must have found it so good that they passed it on to someone else – I hope it’s still being shared around.

Anyway, back to Francis Chan who had a very difficult childhood.

Sadly, Francis’ mother died giving birth to him, his stepmother died when he was nine and his father who had never shown him any real affection, died when Francis was 12.

Today, Francis is a pastor and he and his wife have seven children. Becoming a father not only opened Francis’ eyes to God’s love for him but also how much God desired his love. As Francis writes, ‘Through this experience, I came to understand that my desire for my children is only a faint echo of God’s great love for me and for every person he has made . . . I love my kids so much it hurts.’

Of his book, ‘Crazy Love’, Francis wrote, ‘The idea of Crazy Love has to do with our relationship with God. All my life I have heard people say, “God loves you”. It’s probably the most insane statement you could make to say that the eternal Creator of this universe is in love with me. There is a response that ought to take place in believers, a crazy reaction to that love.

Do you really understand what God has done for you? If so, why is your response so lukewarm?

Are we so full of ourselves and our daily business - whatever that might be, that we fail to notice when God is at work?

And when things go wrong, all we can say is, “Why me? What have I done to deserve this?”

It’s a question I’ve heard many times and often, people answer it themselves, saying, “I must have committed the unforgiveable sin?” What is that?

They are referring to Jesus’ words here in Mark’s Gospel. Unfortunately, or maybe thankfully, they are showing a common misunderstanding of the unforgiveable sin. The context is so important here.

Jesus was pointing out to his listeners how ridiculous the ‘Jewish scribes who came down from Jerusalem’, were being.

They had travelled 85 miles to claim that Jesus was possessed by Beelzebul, a major evil demon from another faith, and so they were in danger of committing the unforgiveable sin. They were deliberately calling Jesus evil.

Jesus pointed out that Satan would stand no chance fighting a battle if his followers were busy fighting amongst themselves. Any house that is divided against itself is doomed.

Anyone with any common sense knew that when Jesus did expel demons, it was only because he was filled with a power and authority stronger than Satan.

So great a power could only be the power of God.

To deliberately call that which is of God ‘evil’, is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit and so commit the unforgiveable, or ‘eternal’ sin, because in so doing you wilfully cut yourself off from God.

Once we understand this we can move on and look at the rest of this passage.

The attack on Jesus by the Jewish scribes is sandwiched between references to Jesus’ family.

Jesus’ family lived in Nazareth, about 25 hilly and mountainous miles, or 2 days of walking over rugged terrain, from Capernaum.

They’d heard what he was doing, and that people were saying: ‘Jesus has gone out of his mind’, that he was ‘beside himself’.

Jesus’ family were not proud of his healings and miracles, they were worried about his and their reputation.

You couldn’t have people saying your son is crazy; that he’s mad! So, they had come to get him.

Mark’s use of words is important, the family were not coming to restrain Jesus but to ‘seize’ him. Mark uses the same Greek word that he uses in describing Jesus’ arrest.

Why would his family want to ‘seize him’?

Mark gives us another another Greek word to help us out – ‘ekseste’ – which means ecstatic, quite literally they thought Jesus was ‘beside himself’, that he was crazy.

Such behaviour brought shame on the family. So, they needed to silence him, to seize him and take him home as the first step in reclaiming the family’s honour. Which is all a bit shocking for us.

If you have read about the Evangelical revival in the 18th century, in which John Wesley played a massive part, you will know that Wesley and his colleagues were often accused of being ‘Enthusiasts’. They were, the religious hierarchy said, overly enthusiastic about their faith. In fact, Welsey could have been accused of being crazy. Filled with the crazy love of God he road over a quarter of a million miles and preached thousands of sermons. He was banned from Church of England pulpits and often met with hostility. Here, in Rossendale he had sods of earth thrown at him and he described the folks here as the ‘wild men of Rossendale’.

The enthusiasm of the Wesley brothers and many others was severely criticised; John even wrote a sermon on The Nature of Enthusiasm based around the words of Festus, the Roman Governor at Caesarea to Paul, ‘You are out of your mind Paul! Too much learning is driving you insane!”

Paul was being held in a Roman prison because of his determination to spread the good news about Jesus. He was being accused, like Jesus, of being beside himself. But like Francis Chan, and John Wesley it was the crazy love of God which drove him on.

As Wesley wrote, ‘If you aim at the religion of the heart, if you talk about righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, then it won’t be long before somebody will say that you are beside yourself.’

Jesus’ family wanted to seize Jesus, to take him back home but the passage ends with Jesus saying, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

With these words Jesus turned away from his biological family.

No wonder things didn’t go well when he returned to Nazareth (Mark chapter 6). Jesus was saying that the family of disciples – the people who do God’s will, is the family that really matters. The water of baptism is a stronger tie than family blood ties.

It may sound harsh to our ears when family is so important, but when it comes to being a Christian all the gospel writers are clear about how important it is to put God first in everything.

And we’re back to Francis Chan’s crazy love again.

Mind you if you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength you will find it so much easier to love your biological family – that’s the way crazy love works.

Mark focuses on the disciples being a family. And it should be the same for you and me. Our fellow disciples in the church are our family.

So, what kind of family are we, and what kind of family might we be?

Sadly, many church family members in this country have left the family of disciples. The church family is shrinking.

In some parts the church family feels dysfunctional, it’s not really working as it should.

Thankfully though, elsewhere in the world, the church family is healthy, often in countries many of us don’t know much about: countries like Burundi, Nigeria, Ghana, and many other places.

So, are we, the Church, in the United Kingdom and the West missing something?

I would say yes.

And perhaps what is missing is the very thing Jesus’ family were worried about, what Paul’s enemies were angry about and what John Wesley’s opponents were seriously concerned about, - ‘ekstasis’, ecstasy, being beside ourselves and out of our minds, filled with God’s crazy love.

The Most Reverend Michael Curry, who preached at Harry and Megan’s wedding, calls for ‘Crazy Christians’ filled with the Holy Spirit and the power of love.

This is the family Jesus has in mind for us.

A family that happily unleashes the Holy Spirit who lives in us and among us as we support each other in trying to be better disciples of Jesus.

The family Jesus has in mind is being lived in many places. In a parish in West Texas there are seven services every weekend, three in Spanish and four in English with standing room only.

At the last count there were 72 groups in the parish, all led by trained lay people, serving the community in different ways. Many of the groups work across the border in Mexico, and all of them proclaim, ‘Dios es amor’ – God is love.

The family Jesus has in mind for us attempts the impossible, like the young boy who went to hospital to visit his friend who was suffering from a rare and barely understood illness. When he said that he wanted to do something to help his friend, his parents suggested that he make a card.

He announced that he was going to raise a million pounds for research. Crazy? Not if you do it. And that is exactly what he did.

Perhaps Jesus was a little crazy after all? Fancy expecting his disciples, you and me, to take up our cross and follow him.

Are we ready to show Jesus a little crazy love in return?

Prayers of Intercession:

Bidding: Lord in your mercy

Response: Hear our prayer

Blessing: Go from this place inspired and crazy enough to believe that you can make a difference.

Go from this act of worship, overflowing with worship and praise for a God who created the whole earth and everything in it. Amen

Hymns and Song Suggestions:

Songs for the beginning of the service:

MP 200 ‘Great is thy faithfulness’


MP 307 ‘I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart’


Songs for after the first set of prayers which fit in nicely are:

MP 115 ‘Do not be afraid’


MP 795 ‘You laid aside your majesty’


Songs for after