• Rossendale Circuit

Forgiveness - Audio Service 20.02.22

with Revd. David Burrow

Video Service

Or watch on youtube here.

Subtitles available on the video, please click the 'cc' button.

Suggested Hymns & Songs:

'Great is thy faithfulness'


'God forgave my sin'


'Love divine'


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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's service is entitled 'Forgiveness' and you'll hear Revd. David Burrow begin the service now.

Psalm 95 Verses one to seven. And the theme for this morning is forgiveness. Picked up the theme from this coming Sunday's set Bible reading from Luke chapter six, but more of that moment. So we come to God in the Psalms 'Oh, come, let us sing to the Lord. Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of south of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving. Let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise for the Lord is a great God and the great King above all God's in his hand are the depths of the earth, the heights of the mountains are his also, the sea is his for he made it and the dry land which his hands have formed. Oh Come, let us worship and bow down let as kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God. And we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. Amen.'

For our prayers I'm going to use two more psalms this morning. The first is Psalm 145. For prayer and praise and adoration. And then as a Psalm of confession. Psalm 51. The Psalm of King David, after he been found, found out in his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Bathsheba's husband. If you want to know that story you need to go back into the book of Samuel to read about that story. But David responds to the fact that he has sinned in Psalm 51.

So first of all, a prayer of adoration, a prayer of praise, Psalm 145. So let's pray. The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all and his compassion is over all that he has made. All your work shall give thanks to you, our Lord and all your faithful shall bless you. They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power to make known to all people, your mighty deeds and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and your dominion endures throughout all generations. Lord God we thank you that this is true that your kingdom will endure for eternity and that you are indeed a faithful and mighty God. We come to you as our God in confession, have mercy on me, oh God, according to your steadfast love, according to your abundant mercy, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before you. Against you, you alone have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgement, indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.

You desire truth in the inward being. Therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness let the bones that you have crushed, rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart Oh God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence. And do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain in me a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you, deliver me from bloodshed Oh God, oh God of my salvation. And my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance. Oh Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise.

You have no delight in sacrifice. If I were to give a burnt offering you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, Oh God, you will not despise. Lord Jesus, we thank you for your patience and for your forgiveness. Thank You that your mercies are new every morning and that there is nothing in our past, no sin, no mistake, no misunderstanding, which can spoil our relationship with you today. Fill each one of us again with your Holy Spirit and empower us to worship and to serve you today and every day for we ask our prayers in the name of Jesus our Risen Lord and Saviour. Amen.

Photo by Alex Shute via Unsplash.

Now our Gospel reading from Luke chapter six, begins with the words in verse 27, But I say to you, what did he say to somebody else before is the question I want to ask straightaway. Well, you just have to look back a little bit and he's been teaching a sermon to many people. And it's the one about Blessed are you who are caught beatitudes in Luke, yeah, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry for you'll be filled. So he's been doing all of that but that sermon goes on to woe to you, who are full now for you'll be hungry. Woe you who are laughing now. For you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you. For that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets. And then he says, 'But I say to you', so now it's almost as if he's turned his attention back to his disciples. He says this, 'But I say to you, but I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you pray for those who abuse you, if anyone strikes you on the cheek offer the other also and from anyone who takes away your coat, do not withhold even your shirt, give to everyone who begs from you. If anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do go to you what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive what credit is that to you? Even sinners lead to sinners to receive as much again but love your enemies. Do good and lend expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you'll be children of the most high for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven, give and it be given to you. A good measure, pressed down shaken together running over will be put into your lap, for the measure you give will be the measure you get back. Amen.

I wonder what you do when someone has hurt you physically or emotionally do you want to hit out? Get a bit of revenge. (I usually cry) You usually cry? ph right, okay, yeah. But sometimes you just want to lash out don't you, and you say things that you know really, you shouldn't say. But when you've been hurt by someone, be it physically emotionally whatever way, I wonder what you're tempted to do to the person who comes and says well, you've got to forgive them. You want to give them a slap in love as well. Forgiveness, it's so important but it's not easy. You know when we've been hurt, we can be angry we can be resentful, we can be bitter.

And forgiving. All of that means that we have to face up to a great deal. We have to face up to our anger. We have to admit our anger, we have to admit and face up to our bitterness, we have to admit and face up to our resentment. So how do we face up to it? Well as Christians, we look to Jesus of course. And as we do we discover that Jesus's answer is a four letter word. And that four letter word of course is 'love.' Jesus loved in a way that is truly awesome. Some people look at the way that Jesus loved and find it fascinating some might even find it terrifying, that overwhelming love. But however, we see the love of Jesus it always reaches out to us and claims us Jesus's love claims us. Now, just look at the way that Jesus taught in those verses. Verse 27, Jesus tells us to love, do good to bless and pray, well that's not a problem is it? It's not a problem. I can love those who love me. That's easy. I can do good to those who didn't do good to me. Not an issue. I can bless those who bless me and I'm more than happy to pray for all those people that we just mentioned. We can do all of them. But and it's a big but. Jesus tells us that such behavior is not enough, because even sinners do that. I'm pretty sure that, well pretty much sure, that every dictator who ever lived loved somebody, it might take a bit of finding out in some cases but I'm sure they all had somebody that they loved. It might have been a partner, a spouse, might have been a child even one of their children. Although I'm not sure about Herod, he tended to murder his, his children. But all of them, pretty much all of them will have had somebody they loved in their lives, so you know everybody loves. But I wonder how many of them loved our enemies. Thankfully, just as I was about to leave, there was some breaking news on the BBC. Russia was pulling some of its troops back from the border of Ukraine.

Which is great news, isn't it? We hope and pray. Even people like Putin, love somebody. But I'm sure he doesn't love his enemies.

As followers of Jesus we are called to love our enemies. We are called to do good to those who hate us, to do good to a terrorist. We are called to bless those who curse us, the Taliban and ISIS have sworn that they want to get rid of Christians, are we willing to bless them? And we are called says Jesus, to pray for those who abuse us. We're fairly fortunate I guess in a lot of ways we're not abused by injustice. So often, we're not abused by poverty. But I know many people who have been abused in all kinds of horrible ways. How do you pray for those who abuse you? I mean, that a challenge. I mean it's more than a challenge isn't it. It must be so hard.

But you see the problem with Jesus is, he didn't just say it, he did it. He put it all into practice. So we can't say it was easy for you Jesus, because we know it wasn't easy for Jesus either. You know I mean, remember, people like Zacchaeus for example. A cheat, a thief, a tax collector, despised by his own people. He was a sinner and therefore an enemy of God. But Jesus spoke to him face to face. Jesus offered him love and reminded Zacchaeus of the truth about himself, he reminded Zacchaeus about the truth about Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus wasn't going to be allowed to get away with anything at all. But Jesus didn't judge him. He didn't condemn him. He offered him mercy and forgiveness. He offered him a different future to the one that he would have had. If he'd stayed in the life that he was leading. His future was full of rejection and hatred from his own people. But Zacchaeus repented. He let go of his past and seized the opportunity of a brand new future with rejoicing. And Jesus himself when he was faced with his own pain, that terrible suffering as he was hung on the cross. There was no anger. There was no condemnation. There was no hatred. What he did simply was to pray for the people who put him on that cross, Father forgive them for they don't know what they're doing. Forgiveness, Jesus told us how to do it and showed us how to do it. But that still doesn't make it easy. Of course. The forgiveness is necessary. There's no getting away from it. When we pray the Lord's prayer we say forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. In other words, God please forgive me just like I forgive others.

Oh that, makes you stop and think doesn't it rather? And we say it so quickly and so, it rolls off our tongue. So I think we need a little bit of help. And we can be helped to forgive others, if we take a closer look at ourselves, I think. All of us are capable of love and hate. All of us can be lovable and horrible. All of us are capable of truth and lies. All of us, we're all a mixture if you like of light and dark. We don't seem to have too much of a problem loving ourselves just as we are because we feed ourselves, we clothe ourselves. We put the heating on even when we know it's gonna cost a bit. You know, we take care of ourselves, don't we? And we'd be quite happy to forgive ourselves. I'm only human, we might say. So if we can do it for ourselves, why not? Why can't we do it for others so often? We're slow to judge to condemn, declare ourselves guilty. In fact, we're quick to forgive ourselves. So can we not do the same, Jesus says do to others as you would have them do to you, in that passage I read, it's the golden rule isn't it. It's a lovely line to remember. Luke chapter six verse 31. Do to others as you would have them do to you. The golden rule. It's also been said that forgiveness is costly. But what does it really cost? Sometimes our pride but really when you think about it, it doesn't cost much else for us to forgive. Because forgiveness is the sensible thing to do. Forgiveness brings healing. Forgiveness brings wholeness. You know the word forgiveness is used over 70 times in the New Testament to translate the word that means to let go, to let go. So when we forgive, we let go of our pain, or when we forgive, we let go of our anger. When we forgive we let go of our resentment and when we forgive we let go of our bitterness, let it go. Too often we give people who have hurt us, power over ourselves by not forgiving them. You know they're off living their lives somewhere else don't even know, they've forgotten about us maybe. But we hold onto that bitterness and to that anger and that hatred and all that does is eat us up, but if we let it go, it's us who receive the healing and the wholeness. As we let go, we're set free, we're set free from pain, anger, resentment and bitterness. They no longer have power over us and that forgiveness brings healing and wholeness just as it did for Zacchaeus. Also as it does for you and me today as it does for millions of others who are able to forgive. So to forgive means not only to set yourself free, but you set others free too.

In South Africa after the fall of the apartheid regime. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission worked really hard in looking for the truth of what happened during the years of apartheid. But they also search for ways for people to forgive each other and to forgive themselves. Donald Eadie who's a Methodist minister wrote about the Truth and Reconciliation committee, wrote about this one particular event. He says 'In one remarkable scene, three young black members of the ANC were being cross examined not only by the judges, but also by the white families of those who had been killed. The youths confessed to coming into a church in Johannesburg during worship and shooting seven white people. At one stage in the procedure, the three black members of the ANC turned and looked into the face of the white man whose wife had been shot. They said that they were deeply sorry for what they had done, and asked if it were possible that he could forgive them. The white man broke down his body convulsed in tears and eventually he said yes, he could forgive them for what they have done to him. But he couldn't forgive them for what they have done to others.'

So he forgave and received healing and the guys who committed the murders, they received healing too, justice was still carried out of course, they still had to be punished for their crimes, as in on for both sides in that whole process. But that truth and reconciliation commission which was something which was absolutely awesome to follow, I don't know if you followed it on the news as it was going on. With Archbishop Desmond Tutu Chairing it all, we were able to see in action that forgiveness is not easy, but to see that forgiveness is necessary. That forgiveness is the sensible thing to do.

You know the hard daily work of forgiveness must be our daily prayer. Because remember, Jesus also said, forgive not seven times, but 70 times seven. In other words, there is no end to forgiving. When we forgive God in his mercy, and in the power of the Holy Spirit enables us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us to bless those who curse us and to pray for those who abuse us. Jesus, through his death on the cross, to his resurrection and through the gift of the Holy Spirit enables us to fulfil what he asks us to do, because he knows that to forgive is good for us.

Let us pray. Father, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lord Jesus, I choose to trust in your complete forgiveness help me to stop replaying the guilt of the past. And instead listen for your voice today. Jesus light of the world as I follow you today. Would you illuminate the darkness within me and around me? Show me your presence and your path as I welcome the light of life. Amen.

So we're going to bring to God our prayers now, of intercession and we'll close with the Lord's Prayer. So if you wish to pray out loud, please do so. Or pray quietly in the silence. Do that too. So let's pray.

Almighty God we thank you that you are a God who has faithfully forgiven your people again and again and again. And we thank you that that is because you are a God of love. A God of mercy and a God who longs for your people to return to you. So we thank you for the gift of forgiveness. And we thank you that as we come to you in prayer, we can bring to you the concerns of our hearts we can bring to you those people in those situations where your love your power are all needed in so many ways. So we think about the world and the sufferings we think about the church and ourselves. So Father, we bring our prayers to you now in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Father God, we pray for those who, we are told are our enemies, and today we pray especially for President Putin. For the leaders of Belarus and the leaders of those armies that have been gathered together on Ukrainian boarder, Lord we pray that you would move in power and that you would turn hearts and minds away from war games and the reality of war, turn their minds to peace. We pray for the people of Ukraine as they live in fear of what might happen. And Lord we bring them to you knowing that you can move in their hearts too and bring your gift of peace and your gift of love. And your gift of hope.

Father we pray too and pray for the Taliban, the people who are lost in darkness, they seem incapable of of love and yet father we know that lives can be transformed by your power, by your forgiveness and your mercy. And so we pray for that, we pray that your light would cast out the darkness and that your Holy Spirit would move in power. So we pray for the nation of Afghanistan. And we pray for peace and for justice.

Father, as we remember the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. We pray that that example might be one that's followed by other nations, encouraging people to seek and to offer forgiveness, father we pray too for your church. That your people might be a people who are always ready to forgive, who are always ready to follow Jesus' example, may we always be ready to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us. May we always be ready to bless those who curse us and to pray for those who abuse us and Lord for us maybe it's not too difficult at times but we know many people, many Christians who have suffered persecution, fled for their very lives. Lord, we thank you for they have shown us how to love, how to pray, how to bless and how to do good. And Father, we pray for ourselves that we might filled with the power of your Holy Spirit, be able to walk in your way, following Jesus' example and showing his love in our lives.

Father we pray to today for those who grieve, we pray again for Alf's family for Lesley and for Laura and Matilda and the wider family. We pray for the family of Anne Wood and we pray for Deborah for John, for Darren and for Steven. And we continue to pray for the families of Alan and Joan at Central. Lord we thankyou for lives lived in faith. We thank you for that witness and that testimony to your love in the lives of these people. And we pray that we too might be witnesses and testify to your love in our lives in the same way. So for all who grieve we pray for healing, we pray for peace, and we pray for the strength of the indwelling power of your holy spirit, the one who brings comfort. Father we offer all our prayers in and through the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and our savior and who taught us to pray. '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 us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.

And in the words of Paul in his letter to the church at Rome, 'May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thankyou for listening and we hope you enjoyed the service, you can find us online on www.rossendalemethodistcircuit.co.uk and also on 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 rossendalemethodistcircuit@gmail.com.

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