Love Changes Everything - Audio Service 10.04.22
with Revd. David Burrow
Or watch on youtube here.
Subtitles available on the video, please click the 'cc' button.
Suggested Hymns & Songs:
'How Deep the Fathers Love for us'
'And Can it be'
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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 entitled 'Love Changes everything' and you'll hear Revd. David Burrow begin the service now...
Welcome and welcome to those who are listening as well, it's good to be with you again and we're going to begin our worship with some words from Revelation Chapter 21, this wonderful promise of new heaven and the new earth when all things are made new, not new things, but made new. And John in his vision, John's on the island of Patmos where he'd been exiled by the Romans because of his Christian faith, but God and the risen Jesus give him this wonderful vision. And he says, '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. 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, "write 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." Amen
The wonderful promise of the water of life, which pours forth from from God through His love, via the Holy Spirit poured out into our lives so that we might be filled to overflowing. Billy Graham used to say he liked to speak from the overflow. So he wanted to be filled so he could speak from the overflow. I think that's a wonderful image isn't it, speaking from the overflow.
Photo by Gaelle Marcel via Unsplash
So let us pray. Let us pray. Father God, we do thank you for your wonderful love which pours forth from yourself, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, filling our lives to overflowing and we thank you that as you pour forth your love into our lives, you call us to love one another. As you have loved us, and we thank you that as you call us to love one another so you call us to be changed by the power of your love. Calling us to be more than, to be more caring to be more compassionate, to be kinder, to be more gentle, more self controled, to be more patient to be more joyful. So Father, we recognise that so often we don't do all of those things. We mess it up a bit. And we pass judgement on others when we're critical of others without even knowing the circumstances in which they are living. Father, forgive us we pray for not being open to your love and for not sharing your love as we should. Change us transform us, make us new, create in us a clean heart that we might always be ready to worship you and to serve you through serving those whom we meet, those whom we know those whom we love those who are strangers, those who are in far off lands, doing all we can to share your love, father God we thank you that through Jesus's love, we can know the forgiveness of our sin. And we thank you that he comes to us now and meets with us in the bread and in the wine in our praises and in the power of the Holy Spirit. So we thank you for your forgiveness. And we thank you for your love which makes it possible. We thank you for one another and for the love that we share as brothers and sisters in Christ and we offer our prayers in his precious name. Amen.
Have you ever taken a selfie? How many of us have taken a selfie? Oh you're missing out the rest of you. But we do seem to be living in a society which seems to be obsessed with selfies don't we. You see them everywhere don't you? You know posing there posing here, put the camera up and even in mirrors, through mirrors that's that's quite clever. I'd get that one wrong I'm sure. And obviously some people do sometimes, there's some wonderful pictures that have been put online that really have gone quite wrong. Very entertaining. And you know it gives you a bit of a boost doesn't it you know when you see yourself on the screen, especially if it's a decent photograph. But I wonder what future generations will make of all our selfies of all these photographs we've taken. But thinking about that I was reminded of all the photos that I've taken over the years on my travels you know when I look through them which I occasionally do, you know I'm reminded of people and of places I've been you know people I've met people I've got to know the places I've enjoyed being in but my family you know when they look at them, well places can just be a pile of bricks can't they, pile of old stones, another mountain, another jungle, another animal in the jungle, another flower in the jungle, you know, it means nothing to them and the people on those photographs mean nothing to them either. So one day somebody, if Jackie doesn't do it first, one of my lads will go, there's no point in keeping these anymore, and with a bit of, maybe, maybe not a pang of guilt will throw them out and that'll be that. How much better would they be, some of those photographs, if they'd had a selfie on them, if there'd been a picture of me in those places, at least they could have said at least we know somebody on there. And you must have boxes and boxes of old photographs and old slides and you look through them and you don't know any of the people. And you look on the back and think I wish somebody had written down who these were and when it was taken. Yeah, and those slides, piles and piles of slides, 1000s of the things, haven't got a clue. But just imagine if there been a picture of grandma and granddad rather than just them taking a picture of something or a place or a picture of Uncle Fred and Auntie Joyce whatever. You know, and you go oh year I remember! Because the thing is, you see, selfies remind us of the value of the individual. Don't you think? It's almost like people are going I'm going to take a picture of myself. I'm going to take a selfie because in this globalised world in which you live with multinationals and global companies, massive institutions and global banking all the rest of it, I'm here. And I matter a bit, you know, I'm valuable. Maybe it's that kind of cry. That says yes, in this world of where we put everybody together as groups, we categorise people, individuals matter. And Jesus in spite of the crowds, the 1000s, all those wonderful stories we have in the scripture of where he stops and meets the needs of an individual. Because he sees in each of those individuals, the image of God, we are made in God's image and each individual is so important. So valuable. You know, remember the story when the synagogue ruler Jairus comes and says, you know,
who was sick? Thankyou, good, his daughter, come on you know, come and heal her. But as Jesus is walking along, somebody touches him, the woman, the woman who was bleeding for 12 years. Interesting that the woman's been bleeding for 12 years and the daughter is 12 years old. But hey, let's not go there this morning. But the details you see are important because individuals matter. And Jesus stops, even though he's going to Jairus' house to Heal this woman even though no one knows who's touched him, and she comes forward and tells him that she has and he tells me that her faith has healed her and to go in peace. Meanwhile people are coming from Jairus' to say don't bother the teacher anymore because your daughter has died. But thankfully, Jesus goes and says to the little girl, 'talitha cumi' and lifts her up and raises her back to life. Individuals, even amongst the crowd, so important to Jesus, you know when we stop taking individuals seriously, you know, things can go seriously wrong.
Headlines. 800 people sacked from p&O. 800 People just sacked. And we look at it and think that's a lot of people. But just imagine if you could speak to each of those individuals and hear each individual's story. That whole story would take on a whole new depth of meaning wouldn't it, the lives that have been affected the numbers beyond those 800 and those individuals with their personal stories of trouble and strife that they now face because of that sacking. Yet it's just a headline 800 People just put in a group together and even worse, mass graves in Ukraine. We see the headline, we hear the story that a mass grave has been found. Only a few weeks ago those people were living the lives that we're living, they were concerned about the things, the daily things that we're concerned about, you know it's, and all we can do is what Jesus did at the grave of Lazarus. You know the shortest verse in the Bible, 'Jesus wept'. But then you've got to say, well, each of those individuals in those graves is important. Each one is so important and in our striving for justice which I hope you know, we pray that justice will be done. That justice recognises the value of each of those individuals. Only by justice being done. Can we say that each of those individuals had value, each human life was valuable and precious. When we forget the individual when we put everybody together as a lump, terrible things can happen, atrocities occur, and the ways open to genocide and crimes against humanity. St. Augustine once said that, 'God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.' True that. God loves each one of us. Imagine if, I wonder if God's got a photo gallery, he's got all our photographs there. But he doesn't need it really does he, because he knows each one of us, he knows how many hairs there are on our heads. Some of us more than others. That's how well he knows each individual, that's how well he knows us. So as I said, Jesus always, always valued each and every single person.
Our Bible reading comes from John chapter 13. And it starts off when he'd gone out, that Jesus said, gone out where've you gone out from. He gone out from the Last Supper. And at the Last Supper, of course, he gave Judas Iscariot, every opportunity to change his mind. And this is all about change. About the possibility for change because when each individual is recognised as valuable, we recognise them as they are but we also recognise the opportunity and the possibilities within the power of God for them to change, to be made more like Jesus. And when Jesus offered Judas the bread, he was sharing hospitality. He was saying that he loved him and giving him a final opportunity to change to change his mind. But we all know what happened. But when he'd gone out, Jesus said, 'Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once, little children I am with you only a little longer, you will look for me and as I said to the Jews, so now I say to you, where I am going, you cannot come. I give you a new commandment that you love one another. Just as I have loved you. You also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples. If you have love for one another.' Amen.
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you. You also should love one another just as I have loved you, you should also love one another. One of the great characteristics that we have as humans is to care, to care for one another. It's a good thing, isn't it to be a caring person. We value, we value people's care of one another. You know it's important to society, it's central central to the Christian lifestyle. You know, if we Christians don't care, then there's not much hope for anybody else. I guess. In Romans 12 Paul says be good friends who love, love deeply. And Jesus said, did he not, that the second most important command is to love your neighbour as yourself. And God after all, is the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, as Paul reminds us in the second letter to the Corinthians. In an ideal world, caring, love is at the very centre of who we are, caring and loving without limit, perhaps following Gandhi's advice, that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. Well, that's great, easier said than done isn't it, to lose yourself in the service of others. But the problem is it gets even harder as Jesus adds a whole new level to loving with the words that he shared with his disciples. You know washing the face of his disciples, which he's just done is one thing. We can perhaps manage that, whatever washing people's feet these days might be, you know, come on in, have a brew, sit down make yourself comfortable, here's some cake I've just made, not me but you know, but now it's not just simply love your, love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbour as yourself. It's Jesus saying that you love one another as I have loved you. That goes a step further. And the world doesn't understand this radical new commandment.
It makes no sense in human terms, many people live by the saying 'Charity begins at home' You've heard that haven't you, oh I just want to slap people when they say that, oh I mean erm, I want to love them, a loving slap. Charity begins at home. But that's the exact opposite of Jesus's commandment, his new commandment. If I say Charity begins at home, I'm saying it must begin with me and my own interests. And that's not the way we are, Jesus calls his disciples to love without counting the cost. In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus said, remember this I'm sure, 'whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it and those who lose their life for my sake, will find it. Wow. That is tough teaching. I think if we took that seriously as a church, you know, as a church in the sense of the big church, what a difference you know, where we see the church in other countries and other places, you know, really taking that seriously reaching out to all, putting Jesus first in everything. What a difference it makes, because this is how Jesus looked, even to the point of dying on the cross for us, for each one of us, for all people for every individual, including his enemies. Jesus' new commandment took a while to get used to even for the early church. And remember the story of Peter, you know, he's up on the roof of a house he's resting he's hungry, waiting for the meal to be cooked and he has this wonderful vision of all these animals being let down from heaven and is told to get up and eat and he says, 'No, I will not eat anything that's unclean.' Three times this happened. Peter has a thing about having to be told three times doesn't he. And Jesus forgave him three times as well, which is wonderful. But eventually he realises that he's not to call anything unclean that God's called clean. In other words, when he gets the call to go to Cornelius' house, who's a Gentile, a non Jew. He goes, and he breaks with all his Jewish tradition. He enters the house of a non Jew. Cornelius was the commander of an Italian regiment. He was a Roman, he ate pizza, possibly. But Peter realised in that moment, that God, Jesus had come for everyone, not just for the Jews, but for the Gentiles too. And the whole story of the church took on a whole new depth of meaning as the Gentiles were reached for God. Not just for the Jews, but for all people, fulfilling the promises to Abraham, that all people 1000s of years before, that all people would be blessed through him. All people. Not just Abraham's descendants but all people to love one another, even as I have loved you to love everybody, every individual, Peter finally got it. This command to love has no boundaries. It has no limits. And there's no need for us to choose who we can and can't love, we've to love them all, every single one of them.
Now life is never straight forward we know that, the media sadly, you know, often oversimplify things for the sake of a good soundbite isn't that frustrating, must be frustrating for the politicians and for the people who want to get a point across they've got to do things in sound bites, they can't explain things fully. And maybe they're afraid the media, that we'll turn off the television, if it gets too complicated. Oh I'm not listening to all that. We're told that we only have attention spans of a few minutes these days. Well, come on. Let's attend a bit longer. Let's listen to the whole story. And people are put into categories by the media. People are lumped as groups and the individual gets lost within that. It's much easier to do it that way isn't it, there's the poor there's the outcast, there's the downtrodden, there's the rich, there's the oligarchs you know, let's lump them all together and tar them all with the same brush. But nothing's ever that simple. Nothing is that simple. If we look at situations more carefully, and consider all the issues, put aside ideas of conflict and power, try to see the world as God sees it loving all unconditionally than perhaps just perhaps the change that we long for might be possible.
A little story about Father Greg Boyle. Some of you may remember this I spoke about it a few years ago. He's a Jesuit priest, and he's the founder of what's called Homeboy Industries. And it's in America of course and I think it's in Los Angeles. But they began in 1988. And Father Greg, and many of the community members established all kinds of things to try and meet the needs of the youth, the young people who were involved in violent gangs, gang warfare, shooting, stabbings, all the rest of it, drugs, everything. They were into it all. So Father, Greg Boyle and his people set up an elementary school, they set up a daycare programme. They found employment for those young people who were willing to share, for those who, once used to shoot bullets at one another were now shooting texts at one another. And relating to one another. And the aim of homeboy ministries and you can look it up on the internet, it's brilliant, is to love and stand with those who are despised and easily left out, to love and stand with the disposable so that we stop throwing people away. For the measure of our compassion lies not in our service of those on the margins, but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them, to get alongside them and to be friends with them, to befriend these people. That's what he was doing. And the really sad thing said Father Greg about our world is that there are lives out there in the world that are seen as less valuable than others. But Father Greg sees each individual's needs and he recognises the possibilities of change for each of those individuals. One of these young men was called Bandit, and he was into crack cocaine. He sold it. He dealt in it. Father Greg met him and offered him a job, but Bandit politely refused, said no thank you. Then 15 years ago, Bandit walked into Father Greg's office and said I'm tired of being tired. So Father Greg got him a job in a warehouse and he had to start at the bottom but 15 years on he was running that warehouse, he was married with three children. Then Father Greg didn't hear from him for a while from Bandit, but then he got a phone call and phone call went like this, 'You've got to bless my daughter!' with an American accent. 'Why?' said Father Greg, 'Is she sick?' 'No. On Sunday, she's going to college, imagine my oldest she's going to college and we're a little bit afraid for her' So on that Sunday, and it was the first time anybody from that family had been to college. No on that Saturday the family went to the church, and they all gathered around the altar with Jessica the daughter in the middle and everyone laid hands on her and Father Greg prayed for Jessica and there was tears everywhere. Everybody's in floods of tears because it's such a wonderful moment. So to lighten the mood Father Greg asked Jessica what she was going to study, forensic psychology and Bandit said 'yeah, she wants to study the criminal mind' and Jessica looked at her father and pointed at Bandit said, 'Yeah, I'm going to be her first subject.' And as they walked out to the car Bandit held back, and Father Greg said to Bandit, 'I give you credit for the man you've chosen to become and choosing to walk in your own footsteps. I'm proud of you,' and Bandit said, 'I'm proud of myself. All of my life people call me a lowlife. A good for nothing. I guess I showed them.' and Father Boyle said 'I guess you did'.
Loving one another as Jesus loved us, changes people. Lives are transformed. So what about us, well like Bandit It's about our will and our action, at the beginning of our service we're reminded by those words from the book of Revelation that Jesus calls all who are thirsty. He says to the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. This is life changing water. As resurrection people looking forward to the new Jerusalem with its abundance of living water. We are called to metaphorically fill our jars at the well of life and then run from there filled with joy and excitement to share the living water with all who thirst, those who are physically hungry and with those whose need is spiritual and emotional psychology, to share the water of life with them. And as we do so, we will receive blessing upon blessing. We will be changed from glory into glory. Till in heaven we take our place. We have gathered together to be fed through worship through Holy Communion, I've got to rise up, we've got to share our God given abundance with others. We who know ourselves loved by an overwhelming and unending love must love one another until all, yes all, without exception, all without distinction come to know the abundance of life promised by Jesus both now and in the life to come. And that all is not just a faceless, mass of all this, a whole group of individuals. Perhaps we should let them take a selfie of each of themselves. So that each is identifiable to us, until every one of those people, until all enter through the gates of heaven and live in the Father's house where there are many rooms, where there are no more tears, where there is no more death, no more pain. And where all thirsts are quenched by the gushing waters of eternal life until that day comes our task, our calling, is to share the waters of life because they are there as the promise of the risen Lord Jesus Christ, those waters of life are ours, and they are ours to share.
Let us pray. Lord God we thank you so much for the love that transforms for the love that changes people, for your love which makes us more like Jesus everyday as we open our hearts and lives to you. Give us that sense of purpose we pray to intentionally seek your love. To come to you to be filled with the living waters, that we might share it with others and set us free we pray, from those things that hold us back, things that we want to hold on to, things that we need to let go of. And Lord we thank you that Jesus showed us how each individual matters and how each individual needs to receive your love.
So we pray for your world once again. And once more we pray for the people of Ukraine. And we weep tears of grief with you and with those who have lost their loved ones in such terrible terrible circumstances. And we pray for an end to the fighting, to the horror, to the war. May peace come. May peace fill the lives and hearts of the people of Ukraine. And Lord we pray for the perpetrators those who have done such terrible things. That their hearts and minds might be challenged by your love just as Judas was, and we pray that they would turn and change and be transformed themselves. Pour out your love we pray. Pour out your life, transforming, life changing love into the lives of all people everywhere. And Father we pray that your church, your people, as we are changed by your love, that we too might always be ready to share with others this incredible gift that you have given to us. And Lord we pray that we too might value each individual life, keep us from just lumping people together, help us to see each person, help us to hear their story, to understand where they're coming from, to understand their joys and sorrows, to know how they feel, so that we might reach out and help them at their point of need. Lord God we thankyou once again for the love that changes, changes circumstances, changes hearts, changes minds, transforms lives, and we pray that we might be messengers of that love for we ask it in and through the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and our savior and who taught us to say together, 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 let us share the grace together, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all, evermore, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.