• Rossendale Circuit

God is Love - Sunday Service 02.05.21

with Revd. David Burrow


Video Service


Watch directly on youtube here.


Part 1


Hymns & Songs:


MP 94 'Come let us sing of a wonderful love'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCSx7ZZ3-2I


MP 200 'Great is thy faithfulness'

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


Part 2


Hymns & Songs:


MP 536 'On a hill far away'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CltrLsjsQl0


StF 409 'Let us build a house where love can dwell'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3Pb77ylz_Q


Part 3


Hymns & Songs:


MP 506 'O Lord my God!' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rm4O_UdItY

A brilliant reggae version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opA7UmbzJdU


MP 945 'There shall be showers of blessing'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_y0IuCU8kQ




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


Transcript


God is love

Welcome and call to worship:

Psalm 22:25-31 Praise in the aftermath of great suffering


Prayers:

In the beginning, God made everything and saw that it was good.

God of all, we come before you today just as we are.

We lift to you the joy of being alive.

We praise you that we are part of your amazing Creation.

Plant in us an ever-growing love for you and let worship and praise burst from our hearts. Let the fruitfulness of our lives bring glory to you.

Forgive us when we sow and plant seeds of gossip, hatred and pain.

Thank you that you do not leave us to moulder in our sin but through the death of your only Son, Jesus Christ you offer us the free gift of forgiveness.

Fill us with your Holy Spirit, prune us, cleanse us and open our lives to receive your love.

For we ask it in the name of our risen Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.


The Lord’s Prayer


MP 94 'Come let us sing of a wonderful love'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCSx7ZZ3-2I


MP 200 'Great is thy faithfulness'

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


Photo by Jason Leung via Unsplash


Read: 1 John 4:7-21 GOD IS LOVE


If I asked you to list songs with ‘love’ in the title I am sure that it wouldn’t be long before you had a list as long as your arm with no signs of stopping.

And I am sure that there would be romantic songs, songs about break ups, unrequited love, someone’s first love, celebrations of love and so much more. Love is after all a many splendoured thing – but what does all this really tell us about love?

Our Bible reading clearly says ‘God is love’.

But that immediately begs the question, ‘What is love?’

We may be using the same word when we say, “I love my children”, or “I love chips”, but we know that we are using the word ‘love’ in rather different ways.

We have our own experiences of love and we no doubt have some knowledge of ‘love’, but we must never assume that because we do, that we understand fully what is meant by John’s statement, ‘God is love’.


John clearly tells us that God’s love was revealed through the sending of ‘his only Son into the world so that we might live through him’ (verse 9).

Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins (verse 10) which means that Jesus has paid the price of our sin and we can now abide in God and he in us because he has given us his Holy Spirit (verse 13).

Good news indeed.

So, how do we understand the phrase, GOD IS LOVE?


Firstly, God’s love is COMPASSIONATE.

God is caring, empathetic, kind, gentle and benevolent and much more beside, but that’s a good start.

Apparently 70% of people in this country will say, "I believe in God", when they are asked, but what kind of God do they believe in?

At the first sign of a crisis, does their idea of god disappear in a puff of questioning complaint?

Belief in a god who is simply compassionate and nothing more leads to questions at times of pandemic - a number of people have challenged me with the question – where is God in all this?

It’s a recurring theme in times of mass famine, earthquakes, and war.

“How can a compassionate god let this happen?”


It takes a mature faith to be able to say, even during a crisis, ‘I believe in God’. Such was the faith of the writer of Psalm 22 and such was the faith of Jesus when on the cross he committed his spirit into the hands of God.

And then there is the massive issue of sin? A god who is a god of compassionate love, only may well simply, in the face of sin, shake his head and say, “There, there, oh dear, never mind” at our plight.

That is not enough to save us from our sin.

We need much more than sentimentality – it would be like a parent never punishing a child for being naughty just simply patting them on the head and saying, “Don’t do it again”. That really doesn’t work.


We need our God to be a God of FORGIVING LOVE

The Christian life is a journey.

We’re on a journey home to the Father’s House where Jesus has prepared a room for us.


Although most people don’t recognise it, we are homesick for God.

Sin separates us from God, from our neighbours and tears us apart.

To find the Way home we need Jesus – who is the Way.


Although the journey can be difficult, we know that when we arrive, we’ll get a welcome, which is both compassionate and forgiving.

Forgiveness brings healing to our relationship with God, to our relationships with others and in our communities.

Some of you will remember Gordon Wilson who, in 1987, forgave the terrorists who murdered his daughter Marie with a bomb at the Enniskillen Remembrance Day Parade.


Wilson's call for forgiveness and reconciliation came to be called the Spirit of Enniskillen. He was a man of great Christian faith, a Methodist in fact, and his public act of forgiveness came to be seen as a pivotal moment in the peace process of Northern Ireland.


I am sure that many of you will also remember the work of South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission after the fall of apartheid. As victims and perpetrators of violence were brought face to face and forgiveness was sought, offered and received, Archbishop Desmond Tutu proclaimed that he felt as though he wanted to take off his shoes as the ground in that place was ‘holy ground’.


But beware. God cannot simply say: “I forgive you”.

To do so would be to see God’s forgiving love as belief in a god who brings men and women into his kingdom without judgement, through a Christ without a cross.

That would, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, be ‘cheap grace’ indeed.

When Jesus said: “Come unto me”, it wasn’t his raised voice that drew people to him but the raised cross with him on it.

There’s more to God’s love than COMPASSION and FORGIVENESS.

God’s love is also HOLY. And holiness does not mix with sin.

God’s forgiveness came at great cost to God. A loving father can say, "Let’s wipe the slate clean and forget it", but a father who is holy cannot.

If he did, people would keep on sinning and perhaps every now and then come to God, say sorry, and God would say, “Let’s forget it”, and the cycle would repeat because there was no JUSTICE.

A Holy God must punish sin or absorb it by taking it upon himself.


God, in love for you and me, chose to take the judgement of sin upon himself in Christ, and in so doing he preserved his holiness and saved us from judgement.

Because God was in Christ on the cross, Christ experienced the cost of sin as only God can do because only God can absorb the totality of human sinfulness. But Christ experienced the effects of sin as only a human person can do, for unlike God he could bleed and die; the Father couldn’t do that.


In our world of pain and suffering it is now the calling of the church, as the loving, compassionate, forgiving, holy Body of Christ, to absorb the suffering of the community and so bring healing and hope to all people.

God’s love calls us to himself, but his holiness pushes us away because of our sin, so how can we stand before a holy God?

Our forgiveness and wholeness are possible only because of the cross.

To stand before God we must cling to the cross, that old rugged cross, because at the cross sin was judged and it’s power broken. Only at the cross was our forgiveness and wholeness made possible.


Jesus’ death on the cross means sin no longer has power over us.

Yes, we may visit the land of sin now and again, but we no longer live there.

Christ’s blood has set us free forever.


COMPASSIONATE LOVE, FORGIVING LOVE and HOLY LOVE are still not quite enough, there is still WRATHFUL LOVE.


God is amazing.


Even though, in Jesus he suffered the agony of the cross so that our relationship with him can be healed, he still allows us the freedom to turn to him and say "NO". God’s love isn’t sentimental claptrap.

The story of our restored relationship with God through the cross is not about a God who is our pal upstairs; our sin isn’t just an unfortunate mistake.

Jesus didn’t save us from the powers of sin and death by a life of "niceness", we were saved by pain and blood.

So, if we say "No" to God’s love we experience his love as wrath. We are going against everything God created us for.

When we say no to God’s love, God doesn’t hate us, he doesn’t get angry and vindictive with us. He goes on loving us but allows us to make our own decision.

God makes himself known to us in Jesus; if we choose to reject him, the danger is not that God will burn us up in anger; the danger is that he will accept our decision as final and let us go our own way.

God’s wrathful love is that he accepts our decision as the final judgement.

Why would I want to decide against God when Jesus has suffered God’s wrath, God’s judgement on sin in my place?


God’s compassionate, forgiving, holy love is perfect, and perfect love casts out fear while freely offering us the gifts of God’s mercy and grace.

The cross is our assurance, our guarantee, that God’s love knows no limits.

Our challenge is to love God and humanity in the same way.


MP 536 'On a hill far away'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CltrLsjsQl0


StF 409 'Let us build a house where love can dwell'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3Pb77ylz_Q


To lead into our prayers of intercession - John 15:1-8

Abiding God, we lift our world to you, holding in our hearts places where lives are crushed by injustice, torn up by conflict, trampled by the greed of others. This week we particularly remember the people of India. May justice germinate and righteousness ripen, that all may know your abundant love. Let us lift our prayers for the world to God. Silence


Nurturing God, we pray for our communities, holding in our hearts places where isolation has laid waste and dreams have withered. Holy Spirit, flow afresh through these places, that all may know Your promise of fullness. Let us lift our prayers for our communities to God. Silence

Life-giving God, we pray for our Church where apathy diseases: Cut out all that stifles your Spirit.

Where lack of vision is causing your people to perish graft us into Your limitless love.

Where weariness withers: revive us with the Light of Jesus.

Let us lift our prayers for the Church to God. Silence


We pray for ourselves and the concerns of our hearts, let us lift our prayers for ourselves to God. Silence

Prune us to be ready to respond to You. Re-wild us with Your ever-flowing grace. Graft us to You, that we may bear much fruit. For we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


Blessing: May each tree you see this week be a reminder of the connection you have with the Creator of that tree. May each piece of fruit you eat be a reminder of the goodness of the Spirit of God nurturing you. Go in peace to bear fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Amen


MP 506 'O Lord my God!' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rm4O_UdItY

A brilliant reggae version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opA7UmbzJdU


MP 945 'There shall be showers of blessing'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_y0IuCU8kQ

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