• Rossendale Circuit

Hope - Audio Service 13.03.22

with Revd. David Burrow

Video Service

Or watch on youtube here.

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

Suggested Hymns & Songs:

'Will your anchor hold?'



'Born in the night'


'Great is thy faithfulness'


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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 but we've suggested some links to versions of the hymns below this video. This week's service is called 'Hope' and you'll hear Reverend David Burrow begin the service now.

Good morning. So here we are first Tuesday in Len, yeah that's right. I wonder how you would finish this sentence today. The sentence that begins 'I hope...' (peace, peace in Ukraine, peace generally) Peace generally. What about this sentence. 'God is' (Love, Good). Love, always with me, good. Well, I'm going to finish that sentence today with 'God is our hope.' Hope. God is our hope, because hope is vital in a world full of pain and suffering. Without hope we've got nothing to hold onto.

Thankfully, the Bible tells us that the hope of God is not a frail, insubstantial, transparent wisp which disappears, can be carried away at the first hint of trouble, the hope of God is solid. It's powerful. It's utterly dependable. It's a sign of things both here and things yet to come. In God we have a sure and uncertain hope that one day all our hope will be fully realised in Jesus. As the writer to the Hebrews says in chapter six verse 19. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. After the death and the resurrection of Jesus and his ascension of course, the promise of Jesus's return shone brightly for everyone who believes that Jesus was the Messiah. Believers look forward to the imminent arrival of the new Jerusalem, the city of gold. But time passed, and it didn't happen. Instead, there was persecution, there was suffering. And the question that perhaps this was how it was always going to be, to be told that you're part of a bigger plan is perhaps not enough, is it? It's all part of a bigger plan. Don't worry, it'll be all alright in the end, that doesn't really cut it does it, we need hope for today.

And the Christians in the early church needed hope for their day and in their letters to the early church, the writers offered just that, hope for today lighting up the here and now reminding their readers and reminding us of God's power, and that God's Kingdom is both now as well as not yet. Look around they say and you will see signs of God's Kingdom everywhere breaking in. Hope in God encourages us to look beyond our current circumstances, to a better future. And then to work together to bring that future into the here and now to make God's Kingdom reality today in every way

possible. The wonderful truth is that God isn't finished with us yet. God is our hope.

Photo by Pinakeen Bhatt.

Let us pray. Lord God you indeed, you are indeed our hope, you are the rock to which we can fasten our anchor. And we thank you that we have this hope in you as an anchor for our soul. And we thank you that is firm and secure. Forgive us we pray when we forget this when we sometimes even take it for granted. And sometimes we allow the billows that roar around us, the troubles, the problems in the world the terrible things that are happening we allow those to overwhelm us. Forgetting to hold on to that rock which is you, the rock which is our hope. Forgive us and remind us again and again we pray that you are faithful and that you will never let us go, and that no matter what your people face. You are there with them. In those places, you are there in Ukraine today. You are there in Yemen, in Afghanistan. You are there with the people you know their suffering, you know their pain and we thank you for the messages coming out of the church in Ukraine. You indeed are their hope too and so we thank you and praise you and pray that your Holy Spirit would fill all our lives so that not only might we hold onto this hope, but that we might have the strength and the power to offer it to others so that they too can know your presence, your power and your peace. We thank you for the hope that we have in you, in and through Jesus Christ our Lord and our Saviour.

So I want to explore this idea of hope this morning. I'm going to turn to the book of Revelation. The last book in the Bible of course revelation written to the seven churches in Asia, five of which were having a bit of a spiritual struggle they'd gone downhill a bit. Times were difficult, Emperor Domitian ruled the Roman Empire. Things were tough. Domitian's favourite title for himself was Lord and God, well no Christian was ever going to say that about a Roman Emperor. They only had one Lord and one God and it certainly wasn't Domitian. So Domitian waged war on the Christians. He really did. They were the only group who would stand up to him, even if it meant their death.

John, well, he was exiled to the island of Patmos, where God gave him a vision of heaven. And in Revelation John tries to describe all that he saw but how do you put into words, how do you describe to others so that they can understand what you alone have seen? And that is beyond words. It's so hard for him. Really must have been so difficult for him to put it all into words but thanks to the inspiration of the Spirit, he did so. So the letter of Revelation is, is the result of John's experience and his messages is that God will ultimately triumph over evil despite the horrendous times that the people of the day were suffering, and living through, sometimes daily experience suggests otherwise doesn't it. But God is saying through John that because of all Jesus has done through his crucifixion and resurrection, that hope is a timeless reality, a timeless reality. So the book of Revelation reflects Christian faith on the extreme pressure from both the government and the culture of the people surrounding those churches. So when we remember the persecuted church today and the suffering of Ukraine, of Yemen and Afghanistan and elsewhere, the book of Revelations seems strangely up to date.

We're going to read about the new heaven and the new earth that we have to look forward to. Revelation chapter 21, and verses one to seven.

'Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first Earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride, adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying 'See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples and God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. Mourning and crying and pain will be no more for the first things have passed away.' And the one who was seated on the throne said, 'See I am making all things new'. Also, he said, he said this, 'right this for these words are trustworthy and true.' And then he said to me 'it is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty. I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things. I will be their God. And they will be my children.' Amen.

I'm sure that there have been times when you felt under extreme pressure, times when you felt without hope. Times when you've been at the point of despair with the tiredness and the stress of life. Maybe you've been worried about the present, and all the things that are happening at the moment. Maybe you've been worried about the future. Maybe you've even been afraid sometimes of being persecuted for your faith and being afraid to speak out. Perhaps even concerned at how Christians can possibly live in a society, which seems so at odds with Christian values, and Christian ethics. If any of those are the case, and I'm sure they are for all of us at different times in our lives. Then revelation is the book for you.

There is hope, says John, there is hope for God's people. Jesus says I will make all things new. Not all new things. I will make all things new. Because there's a continuity between God's present creation and what he's going to do when Jesus returns. Martin Luther once said, 'If I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces. I would still plant my apple tree.' I think that's wonderful isn't it, that's a sign of hope isn't it, I suppose in England, we might say you know, still plant the acorn. That would be a sign of real hope. How long does an oak tree take to live and that hope gives us, gives us just such a such a wonderful sense of tomorrow. And today as well.

I'm just gonna go a little bit further in Revelation into verse nine of just 21. So one of the aims and one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls for the seven last plagues, that's another story, came and said to me, 'Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the lamb. And in the spirit, he carried me away to a great high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like Jasper, clear, as crystal.' So John sees this new Jerusalem, this holy city, it's the church as one day the church will be as a bride beautiful, beautifully dressed for her husband Jesus, the church is the bride. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He's the husband. Jesus, what a wonderful wedding celebration that will be. And in that moment, our relationship with God will be completely renewed. The relationship that God had with Adam and Eve as he strolled in the garden and they you know, they share the conversation in the cool of the day. That relationship will also be renewed with humanity with God's people.

But what does that mean for today? Well, today, together we experience the presence of God's Holy Spirit. And God's Holy Spirit is a foretaste of all that is to come as we receive God's Holy Spirit, we are filled with the power, the presence and the peace of God, knowing the forgiveness of God, and that's a foretaste of all that's to come. So we have something of the future in the here and now. And because we expect to be like Christ, on that day. We try to be like Christ, now. It's not easy to be like Jesus today, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, the power of the Holy Spirit within us. We are enabled to do all that we can, you can read about a lot in the first letter of John chapter three of his first letter. And because we expect, we expect the promise of a better country, as it says in Hebrews, that's heaven. We expect this promise of heaven one day, we recognise that in this life. We are simply pilgrims passing through and we look forward to that time, when we will know a complete intimacy with Jesus. It's good to have you see, an eternal perspective on these things. The Good Book says all as it came to pass all things come to pass, not to stay. All things come to pass. The sun will rise, the sun will set no matter what happens, a thought I often have when I'm in the dentist chair, this will pass. I mean, it applies to everything, doesn't it? So I enjoy the really good times. Make the most of every moment because they will pass and the bad times too, the difficult times the challenges, they too will pass.

This intimate relationship we can have with Jesus, I mean imagine the most beautiful relationship you've ever see or known and multiply it a million times over and you'll begin to see a little of the relationship that we will enjoy with God, when all of these things that are promised in revelation take place. The church in a perfect relationship with God, the church made perfect, dazzlingly beautiful, shining with the glory of God.

Just a little bit more from chapter 21, if you know your precious stones then this will speak to you, 'the foundations of the wall of the city, the church are adorned with every jewel, this is the new Jerusalem, the first, so this is the foundations ok, the first with Jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eight beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the elleventh jacinth and the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates of twelve pearls, each of the gates is a single pearl and the street of the city is pure gold, transparent as glass.' Wow, talk about shiny. 'And so' Says John, 'No temple in the city for his temple is the Lord God the almighty and the lamb and the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light and the lamb is its lamp, the nations will walk by its light and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, its gates will never be shut by day and there will be no night there, people will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the lambs book of life.'

This city is a cube. Twelve gates, to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. Again we have continuity with the past and the promises of God, the city is perfect, peaceful, beautiful, totally secure, in this city there's no suffering, no death, no temple, no sun, no night, no impurity, and all those whos names are in the lambs book of life can enter in, no need for a visa. No paperwork, Jesus has done all of that on the cross and all those rulers of the earth, whether it be ancient Babylon or Rome or America or China or even Russia, none of those empires, none of those emperors will enter into this place. No false Gods like the Gods of materialism and drugs and sex, none of that there either. They will have no sway, they will have no more power, because our hope depends on God who has kept his promises in the past and so will keep them in the present, to hope means we can look forward expectantly to all that God will do in the future, God is with us and gives us today a foretaste of this future, he gives us his strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, that's what we're going to sing in a few minutes. God is with us, God is indeed with us and this hope is the comfort, is a strength to everyone that is going through hardships and difficulties today and it's inspiration to live holy lives in anticipation of all that is to come, when one day we are citizens of the new Jerusalem.

Last night I was watching the news and there was a young woman talking about life in Ukraine at the moment she was saying that, we're Christians, so we're praying to God and we trust in him, and I thought what a response, what a wonderful response, I hope I could do that in the face of missiles raining down from the skies. St Augustine explains how we should respond to this hope for the future, he writes, 'He who loves the coming of the Lord is not he who affirms that it is far off, nor is it he who says it is near, but rather he who whether it be far off or near, awaits it with sincere faith, steadfast hope and fervent love.' Faith, hope and love. These three, they always abide says Paul. And he says that love is the greatest but sadly hope sometimes gets a bit neglected doesn't it, maybe because hope smacks of wishful thinking, but Christian hope has never been neglected because faith, hope and love are inseparable, hope cannot exist without faith, and love cannot be put into effect without hope and together these three comprise the Christian way of life. In the book of Ephesians, in the letter to the Ephesians, Paul says that the pagans are people without hope because they are without God. And hope begins with the belief in the living God, a God who can be trusted to fulfill his promises, because he has kept those promises in the past, as Christians I hope it goes without saying, that the bedrock of our hope is Jesus, we've seen how God has worked in Jesus, so Jesus points the way to God's ultimate plan and purpose for his creation, when Jesus told us to pray 'your kingdom come, your will on earth be done on earth as it is in heaven.' What are we praying for? We're praying for that kingdom to come now aren't we. And Jesus showed how that's possible because everytime he heals someone, God's kingdom broke in to life on earth, whenever Jesus performed any of his other miracles, God's kingdom was breaking in, when Jesus forgave someone's sin, God's kingdom broke in, when Jesus was raised from the dead, God's kingdom broke in with power. And so we live in that hope, the hope of life eternal. And whenever we say a word of encouragement because of our faith, God's kingdom breaks in, whenever we get alongside somebody, God's kingdom breaks in. Whenever we offer love, compassion, faith all of these things, God's kingdom breaks into the here and now, we don't have it in all its wonder and glory yet so we walk through faith rather than by sight, and although we often think that we see more suffering than triumph, we are liberated from our fear about our own present and future because of this hope and when we're set free from our own fears that means that we are free to care about the fears and struggles of others. That makes sense I hope. Set free of your own fears, then you can help others, put on your own oxygen mask before you put on your child's oxygen mask, you know when you're on the plane, when the air mask comes down, they tell you to do your own before helping anybody else because you've got to expel your own fears and then you can help others.

So we look, we look to all that is to come while getting our hands dirty on earth as servants of all and as we do so we expect new things to happen, God's will is for his kingdom to come and God wants to use us to build it, even though we know it will only come fully when Jesus returns in glory, we know all this to be true because here in Revelation, we see Jesus the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, the Messiah, the king, the one who has conquered, he has conquered sin, he has conquered death and the glorious result is this, as it says in Revelations chapter five, 'Angels, numbering thousands upon thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand, every creature in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing.' That would be quite a choir wouldn't it, everything on earth in the sea and in heaven, all singing together with myriad upon myriad of angels and they're all singing to the one who is seated on the throne and to the lamb and they're singing blessing and honor and glory and might, forever and ever and the four living creatures, they're there in revelation, four living creatures there in heaven, they all said, Amen. And the elders fell down and worshipped. We who belong to Jesus share in his victory and look to his appearing in glory for God is indeed our hope.

Let's pray. Lord God we thankyou that you are indeed our hope, that you are the hope of the world, and so we come to you to pray, to pray for the world in which we live, and at the forefront of all our minds and in our hearts is the situation in Ukraine, and we pray that you would make it stop Lord, end that war, bring to an end the hatred, the wickedness and the cruelty, take away the tanks and the bombs and the guns, Lord we pray for a miracle, we pray for your spirit to move over the suffering and the pain, to move in the hearts and minds of those who are afraid, those who are injured, those who are bereaved, we pray for an end to the darkness and pray that your light would shine, bringing the knowledge of your presence and we pray that your holy spirit would move in the hearts and minds of those who seek war, soften their hearts we pray and we pray against the power of evil that seems to have taken hold of them, Lord we pray that you would clear away the brain washing, make all things clear so that evil might be seen for what it is, the suffering, the suffering of the people might bring people to a point of compassion and understanding. And Lord we pray that in the place of all this suffering and pain, the tears and the loss that you would bring your hope, we thankyou for the Christians in Ukraine who continue to pray and to worship, in the face of the bombing, we thankyou for their courage, we thankyou that you uphold them and that you are the rock to which they have fixed their anchor and Lord we thankyou that in the midst of it all that your cross stands tall, for your price paid the price for this suffering, your cross is the path that leads to peace, your cross is the one that swallows all the sorrow and yours is a cross that breaks the back of the evil one. May your cross shine across the nation of Ukraine, may your cross illuminate that nation and may your cross bring power and illuminate frightened souls. And Lord we do not only pray for Ukraine, but we cannot forget the people of Yemen and Afghanistan and so many other places, where there is terrible suffering and people seem forgotten, Lord we pray for peace, for peace in the world, your peace. And Lord we pray that you might take us and use us to be instruments of your peace. Lord be it through our giving, through our prayers, through our practical assistance, whatever we can do, Lord take us and use us. May we be signs of your kingdom breaking into this world that others might see and acknowledge your rule in their lives and come to enjoy that wonderful relationship with you that we enjoy, may all people see in you the hope that we hold onto and we thankyou Lord God that you are our hope. And we thankyou in the name of Jesus Christ who is our Lord and our savior and who taught us to pray together, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, your 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 yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.

May the joy of the spirit, the compassion of Christ, and the power of God, lead us to the highest heights, where love reigns, where fear has no place and hope is a timeless reality, in the name of Jesus our Lord who conquered death and gives life forever, 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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