• Rossendale Circuit

Jesus is with them- Sunday Service 6.9.20

With Revd. David Burrow

Video Service

Scroll down to view the written service and click to view directly in youtube here.

Part 1


MP 628 'Tell me the old, old story'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwJionxs-bs Welsh choir!

MP 394 'Jubilate'


Part 2


MP 678 There’s a quiet understanding


MP 590 Seek ye first the Kingdom of God


Part 3


MP 456 Make me a channel of your peace


sung by Susan Boyle

Part 4

A hymn which reassures us of Jesus’ presence at all times:

MP 760 When we walk with the Lord


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrSCxfnN2B8 (folkier version)

Written Service

*Please note this isn't an exact transcript of the videos.

Where two or three gather in his name, Jesus is with them.


Call to worship:

As we gather in your name, Lord Jesus, we know how important it is to listen, as well as speak, in prayer. Help us to be keener listeners today, to help us to better understand what it means to be your followers. 


Read Psalm 119:33-40 This part of Psalm 119 is a prayer. The writer is asking God to help him to joyfully keep and understand God’s law so that he might be strong in faith and find life in a right relationship with God. The next thing to do is to make it personal and make the writer’s prayer your own – as you seek that same faith and relationship.

This pat of the Psalm is all about getting to know God and one of the best ways to do this is through getting to know the stories of the Bible and especially the story of Jesus.

So, let’s sing a similar prayer, ‘Tell me the old, old story’ . . .

and follow it with a song of celebration as we give thanks for God’s grace and mercy – Jubilate.


MP 628 'Tell me the old, old story'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwJionxs-bs Welsh choir!

MP 394 'Jubilate'


Photo by Daan Stevens

Prayer: feel free to join in the Alleluias at the end of each line

Lord Jesus, where two or three are gathered in your name, you are there. Alleluia! Where two or three pray in your name, you are there. Alleluia! Where two or three say that you are Lord, you are there. Alleluia! Amen.

Have you ever wished that you had listened to someone more carefully?

It’s far too easy, isn’t it, to let your mind wander and not listen to what the person is saying.

Then you try and guess what they may have said and end up making things worse.

So, you say you’re sorry and hopefully make up. But if you don’t, then the longer you leave it, the harder it gets to face the person and look them in the eye.

When we cause each other pain, how hard it is to put things right.

Jesus wants everyone to live together in peace, to love one another and Paul tells us that we should, “owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8).

Loving others is an ongoing debt we can never claim to have paid off!

Credit cards and other debts must always be paid off, but no credit card can pay off the debt we have to love God and love one another.

We can never reach a point where we can claim to have loved as much as it is possible to love: ‘Love is eternal, for love never ends’ (1 Corinthians 13).

To love is God’s command and it is a gift from God, poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. And this is not abstract love that says from a distance, ‘I care’, this is love that proves itself by its actions; just as Jesus’ love did.

A prayer for forgiveness:

Loving God, when others are hurt by things we have done, forgive us. When others are upset by things we have said, forgive us. When we have failed to listen carefully to what others are saying to us, forgive us.


Loving God open our ears to listen to you and to our brothers and sisters. Open our mouths only when you want us to speak.

Open our hearts to receive your love, that filled with your Holy Spirit, we might put your love into action.


The Lord’s prayer

Over the last two weeks we have seen that to acknowledge, with Peter, that Jesus is God’s anointed Messiah, the Son of the living God, has serious implications for our lives: if we want to save our lives, then we need to be ready to lose them for Jesus’ sake.

How does this work out in practice?

After his transfiguration Jesus offers some memorable advice for when we face temptation (Matthew 18:8-9) and, in today’s reading, for when other Christians fall in to sin. And Jesus’ advice has a lot to do with love, being prepared to listen and taking seriously his promise that where two or three are gathered in is name then he too is present.

Read Matthew 18:15-20


MP 678 There’s a quiet understanding


MP 590 Seek ye first the Kingdom of God


How do you feel about confrontation?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all get along together and live in peace and harmony? Sadly, that’s not always the case.

So, what do we do when things go wrong?

Jesus offers us some carefully thought out advice which at first glance may make us want to run the proverbial mile.

Most people shy away from confrontation.

If you’re like me you really don’t like it and would rather it go away, but you know that there are times when you have to feel the fear and face it anyway.

Jesus said, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.”

Always remembering of course that, when two or three gather in his name, Jesus is present with them.

After all, one of Jesus’ titles is Emmanuel, which means, God with us.

Jesus was speaking about relationships in the community of disciples. The ‘Church’ didn’t exist as we know it when Jesus was walking the roads of Galilee, Judea and Samaria.

‘Church’ was a name for the future.

The word Jesus used, and which we translate as ‘church’ had an Old Testament background meaning the ‘congregation’ or ‘community’ of God’s people.

And in our Bible reading Jesus was saying that it is important to face up to the sins of community members, which for you and me today, means the Christian community or church we belong to.

We are to strive for reconciliation, and if that means facing people with their sin then that’s how it must be.

Don’t put such meetings off as things will only get worse.

Sin festers and spreads and has no place in the Christian community.

Some time ago I read that someone once said, “I’d like to join a church, but a church just has so many people to deal with. I’d rather just be spiritual on my own.”

This is why Jesus’ teaching here is important.

It’s about how to put things right when someone in the church sins and spoils the relationship between themselves and the rest of the church and so puts a distance between themselves and God.

Photo by cloudvisual.co.uk via Unsplash

Go to the person who has sinned on your own, said Jesus, meet them face-to-face (no social distancing then!), and if they listen, you have won them back. Relationships are restored and reconciliation is achieved.

It’s a confrontation, but not an aggressive one. It is done in love with the offer of forgiveness. And if the brother or sister listens then all will be well.

Remember, when two or three gather in his name, Jesus, Emmanuel, is with them.

Jesus was teaching his small community of disciples, and therefore you and me, about reconciliation and restoration; this is not about pointing out someone’s sin for the sake of it.

Nor is it about making us feel better or proving a point.

It’s about regaining a brother or a sister.

It’s about living together in love.

The temptation when people are hurt and things go wrong is to take the easy road.

Avoid confrontation and chat about something inoffensive, “Hasn’t the weather been lovely recently?”

It seems easier to pretend nothing happened, everything is fine, and we sweep it under the rug.

But that never works. Someone will make a comment, they will, in effect, move the rug and whatever is underneath will crawl out from under it.

Jesus told his disciples they needed to face such issues and, when they arise in our church communities, so do we.

Remembering of course that when two or three gather in his name, Jesus, Emmauel, is with them.

But what happens if the person refuses to listen?

Then go back to them, says Jesus, and take one or two others who are witnesses with you.

And what if the person still refuses to listen?

Well then, go and tell the church, the community of disciples.

Perhaps the person will listen to the church?

Do everything in your power to restore the relationship with your brother or sister.

But what happens when someone refuses to listen and recognise their sin, even with this much love and attention and refuses to listen even to the church, to the community of believers?

Don’t sulk, and don’t pretend nothing has happened in the vain hope that the problem, and perhaps the person, will disappear.

Because Jesus has his answer, and this is the part that seems to be a really hard teaching, but it’s one we sometimes need to act on:

Jesus’ answer is, “Let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector”.

In other words, ‘Treat them as outsiders!’ Ouch!

If the person won’t repent and accept forgiveness and continues to cause pain, then they have to leave the community.

There will be sadness that a brother or sister is missing from the table; that there is now a distance between them and everyone else, but far worse would be to allow sin to fester like an untreated wound.

But, there’s a twist. Isn’t there always with Jesus?

How did Jesus treat tax collectors and Gentiles, the outsiders?

He never gave up on them, and always offered hope.

They were very much part of his ministry; Jesus was known as the friend of tax collectors and sinners.

Remind yourself of the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19) and the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4).

Jesus sat with them, and without condemnation he lovingly challenged their behaviour and he restored their relationship with God.

They were reconciled to God and to their communities because Jesus, Emmanuel, was present with them.

Too often we’d rather have a kind of soft-focus love in our church lives.

You know those wedding photos with a bit of Vaseline smeared around the edge of the lens to give it that soppy romantic effect.

The problem with love that’s fuzzy round the edges is, it quickly evaporates when trouble comes.

What is needed is holy love that doesn’t disappear at the first sign of trouble and sin.

Holy love takes action and is willing to risk loving confrontation with a brother or sister in Christ knowing that when two or three gather in his name, Jesus, Emmanuel, is with them.

Confrontation is scary, but it really means bringing people together to listen to one another and talk about the serious issue of sin.

Jesus taught that our relationships with each other and with God are worth it, and he should know.

He went to the cross, to become sin, to wrestle our sins away from us, rather than pat us on the head and offer us a soppy sentimental love that says sin doesn’t matter.

Sin gets in the way of all our relationships and when it rears its ugly head it needs sorting as quickly as possible. We must confess our sin and ask for forgiveness.

And when we are sinned against we need to offer loving, unconditional forgiveness (more of this next week), remembering that Jesus loved us so much that he was willing to die so that we might be forgiven and reconciled to God and to one another.

The least we can do when a brother or sister sins is lovingly sit with them, challenge them, and if they won’t listen, go back some more, bring more faces and more ears, let the person know they are precious and we’re not letting them go that easily.

While all the time giving thanks that as we meet and sit together in Jesus’ name: he, Emannuel, is with us.

There is a risk in meeting with the one who sins.

We may be accused of being judgemental or even ‘holier than thou’, but the story of Jesus shows us there is power, promise and hope in meeting with each other and listening to one another in Jesus’ name.

Because, when two or three gather in his name, Jesus, Emmanuel, is with them.

When Desmond Tutu set up the Peace & Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and listened to the perpetrators of violence speak with their victims, he spoke of the place of meeting being “Holy ground” and how he felt he should even take off his shoes because Victim and perpetrator were meeting in Jesus’ name and Jesus, Emmanuel, was present.

Confession was made. Forgiveness was sought, and given.

Reconciliation was achieved.

Relationships were restored, more violence was avoided, and peace began to reign.

Because of the power of the cross, one day we will know the joy of seeing God face-to-face without fear or shame.

In the meantime, even in these difficult times, we can rest on Jesus’ promise that even if only two or three of us can gather in his name all things are possible because he, Jesus, Emmanuel, is with us.



MP 456 Make me a channel of your peace

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUI2EyYIEKs sung by Susan Boyle

Photo by Saad Chaudhry via Unsplash

Prayers of Intercession:

Thank you, heavenly Father, for Jesus’ presence with us as we offer our prayers in his name.

Loving and everlasting God we bring to you our concerns for others

We bring before you the complexity of our world. The horrors of conflict and war. The political landscape and all its arguments. The poverty and famine that affects people all over the world.

The changing environment that is causing many challenges.

We pray for protection for the refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea and the English Channel and we give thanks for those who are providing rescue, warmth and help.

Lord in your mercy ………….hear our prayer

We pray for those who continue to live with the impact of Covid-19. So many lives have been devastated and continue to be so around the world.

In our local community we pray for those known to us who are struggling with life, the lonely and the downcast.

Particularly we think of those affected by loss of income and independence and the upheaval this has led to.

We continue to remember those who are ill or grieving and, in the stillness, we bring them to you as the four friends brought their paralysed friend to Jesus and we name them before you.


Lord in your mercy ………….hear our prayer

This week we have seen schools reopen and teachers and pupils returning to the classroom. We thank you for this return and pray that things will go well.

We pray too for all who can return to work while remembering those who are still unable to do so and especially those who have been made unemployed.

We pray for a future free of Covid-19 and a time when relationships can be renewed and restored.

Lord in your mercy ………….hear our prayer

We bring before you ourselves. All we are facing. All we are rejoicing in. All that we are wondering about. All that we are worrying about. All that we are considering.

Help us to be still and ready to notice you - So that we might know how to do your will.

Lord in your mercy ………….hear our prayer

We bring all these things to you in the name of Jesus who gave so much that we might know you better.



Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all.


Whether you be one, two, three or more go, knowing that God hears you and loves you.

That God delights in your love for one another.

That God requires of you this - to love and value others whoever and wherever they are; Go ready to be a beacon of God’s love in the world, remembering always that Jesus, Emmanuel, is with you.


A hymn which reassures us of Jesus’ presence at all times:

MP 760 When we walk with the Lord


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