• Rossendale Circuit

My Grace is Sufficient for You - Sunday Service 04.07.21

with Revd. David Burrow


Video Service

Watch on youtube here.


Suggested Hymns & Songs:


MP 200 'Great is thy faithfulness'

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


MP 987 'Here is love vast as the ocean'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8YOPj5TnUM


MP 660 'The Lord’s my shepherd'

https://youtu.be/kbGsIVeKU_E


MP 1008 'The Lord’s my Shepherd'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN4tPkX0MG0


MP 755 'When I survey the wondrous cross'

https://youtu.be/iK8kYlBn_qI


MP 132 'Father hear the prayer we offer'

https://youtu.be/r1-9wam-2Rk


MP 567 'Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire'

https://youtu.be/VZnwZsmcFvg


MP 492 'God of grace and God of glory'

https://youtu.be/AeUiCZTxOS0 long organ introduction


MP 16 'All my hope on God is founded'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3LCGh02Vew



Transcript


Welcome


Sunday July 4th is ‘Thank You Day’. Are you in?

See the Thank You Day website at www.thankyouday.org.uk to discover a wealth of details about some wonderful events and find out how you can join in.

And, of course, as we give thanks to all those who have done so much for others during the pandemic let us not forget to give thanks to God who is always loving and faithful and whose grace is sufficient for everybody!

I have given this service the title, ‘My grace is sufficient for you’ – the words of Jesus to Paul, after Paul appealed three times to the Lord to remove his ‘thorn in the flesh’.


We begin our worship with the words of Psalm 117 is a great little read to remind us of God’s faithfulness and then Psalm 145 is a longer read and reminds us of God’s greatness, goodness and love.


Hymns & Songs:


MP 200 'Great is thy faithfulness'

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


MP 987 'Here is love vast as the ocean'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8YOPj5TnUM


Prayer:

We praise you, God of the beginnings and God of the endings.

God of the first breath, and God of the last.

God of the labour pains and God of the dying moments.

We praise you, God of all time, in this moment, this time.

Come amongst us, Spirit of the living God. Amen.


And as we invite the Holy Spirit to move amongst us and fill us, we pause for a moment to offer our prayers of confession and to reflect on some of the ways in which we have not been our best selves and have let ourselves and God down, where we have not lived up to our true potential

If it helps, feel free to write, or draw. You may find it helpful to burn or destroy in some other way your confessions to symbolise God’s forgiveness and that he chooses to forget our sin.


Living God, we want to be better, we want to be our best, for you and for your world.

Move within us, transform us, change us. Challenge and inspire us by your Spirit to fulfil your desires for our lives.

We are sorry, for all the times we’ve turned away from that desire, all the times we’ve let each other down.

Even as we say sorry, we know that you forgive us.

We see in you the love we wish to reflect into the world – a love that always accepts, and always hopes for better.

May we be reservoirs of that love, overflowing out into a world in need. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Photo by Andrew Coelho via Unsplash


The Lord’s Prayer


MP 660 'The Lord’s my shepherd'

https://youtu.be/kbGsIVeKU_E


MP 1008 'The Lord’s my Shepherd'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN4tPkX0MG0


Both remind us of God’s presence in our lives when life is difficult.


2 Corinthians 12:2-10


Have you had any amazing spiritual experiences recently? Those moments when the presence of the risen Jesus is so real you can almost reach out and touch Jesus himself.

Or perhaps your more recent experience has been one of pain and suffering.

Paul knew both types of experience and in his letter to the Christians in Corinth Paul writes about these two very different spiritual experiences.


The first is an amazing supernatural trip to Paradise which cannot be spoken about.

Sometimes I think, wouldn’t it be great if God gave us all an experience like that?

Absolute proof of God’s power that shows we are on the right path: an experience filled with the WOW factor!

We’d know so much more about God. Wouldn’t we? Not necessarily so.


Paul suggests that it is only in life’s difficulties where we really discover the depth and strength of God. It is only when we are weak that we really experience the power of Jesus Christ. “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me”. For Jesus says: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness (verse 9)”.


Paul boasts about the things that limit him because they reveal God more fully!

If people know about my weaknesses, then they are more likely to see where God is at work in my life. The times and places where I have done things only because God has enabled me to do so.


Why does Paul write this way?

Should we seek out suffering and accept it?

Well, that doesn’t seem to be the way God works elsewhere in the Bible.

The woman who reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment wasn’t for accepting her suffering – she wanted healing. She had suffered for 12 long years, she had been an outcast in society and Jesus responded to her faith and healed not only her physical sickness but he also restored her to her place in the community. She was made whole. At the time, of course, Jesus was on his way to lay hands on Jairus’ 12-year-old daughter but because he spent time with the woman the young girl died. Jesus told Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe.” And of course, despite being laughed at, Jesus raised the girl from the dead. Jesus’ grace was sufficient for everyone.


When we ask why Paul writes the way he does we need to understand where he is coming from.

Some of the church leaders in Corinth had got rather too big for their boots.

They had accused him of being weak, and claimed that they were spiritually superior to Paul, so Paul took their argument and stood it on his head.

If you want to follow Jesus on the way of the cross, you must realise that in the eyes of the world it is a foolish thing to do. Sadly, 21st century society teaches us to be true to ourselves, to self-actualise, to put ourselves first and never let anyone tell us what we can and can’t do – unless we are intent on hurting someone else.

Christianity teaches otherwise. Christianity is not about self-actualisation, but about self-sacrifice.

It is in the cross that we discover what God is like. Jesus sacrificed the glory of heaven to be born in the flesh. He sacrificed his own life for you and for me. God’s love leads me to the place where I deny self, take up my cross and follow Jesus asking only that I do his will and if that leads to suffering, then so be it.

Why? Because it is in our own suffering and times of struggle that we find God is with us in most unexpected ways and we come to know the truth of Jesus’ words: “My grace is sufficient for you”.


As you reflect on these words of Jesus you might like to read or listen to Isaac Watts great hymn:


MP 755 'When I survey the wondrous cross'

https://youtu.be/iK8kYlBn_qI


which in the final verse reminds us of the demands of following Jesus:

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

that were an offering far too small,

love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.


And now we turn to this week’s Gospel reading:


Mark 6:1-13


Not long after I returned from my three years serving with Voluntary Service Overseas as a volunteer teacher in Papua New Guinea in the 1980’s my brother and I had an argument.

It was evening after a long day working on the farm and the two of us were standing in the farmhouse lounge. I can’t remember what it was about, but I do know that the reason for it was because I was struggling to adapt to life back in England and he didn’t understand – at all!

My life had been changed forever by my experiences; my outlook was different, my expectations were different and he was treating me as if I was the same person who had left three years before.

He wanted me in the same box, with the same labels as before.

But everything had changed.


Now, I’m not for a second comparing myself to Jesus – but the idea of returning home after a long time away is similar.

Jesus had left home; he had been busy and had got quite a reputation which preceded him.


He’d had some amazing experiences, he’d baptised by John, he had spent 40 days in the wilderness in the power of the Holy Spirit, where Satan tempted him to use his power in all the wrong ways.

He’d healed lots of people, raised people from the dead, been welcomed by many and rejected by others.

Perhaps in his hometown there was the hope of a warm welcome, a chance to relax as he taught and spent time with the people he knew.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. The Jesus who returned to Nazareth was not the one that everyone expected.

He didn’t fit in the same old box. He came with new labels.


And when he taught the people were astounded.

They basically, “Who does he think he is?” “Isn’t this the carpenter, Mary’s son, the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and aren’t his sisters here with us?”

People took offence at Jesus.


Their suspicions restricted Jesus’ mission, their limited expectation meant he couldn’t do the works of power he’d done elsewhere, and Jesus was amazed, and no doubt hurt, by their lack of faith.


Jesus had to wrestle with things going wrong, he had to cope with rejection – I find that encouraging. Why?

Jesus knows what it’s like to face and deal with real life, real relationships real problems and struggles. He’s been there and knows the truth of his own words: “My grace is sufficient for you”.


Studying counselling over the years I’ve seen various theories come and go, but one rule that was laid down early on seems to be a bit intransigent – ‘Don’t share anything of yourself’.

How can we share and help carry people’s burdens if we don’t know what it’s like to carry our own?

How can we begin to understand someone’s failures if we haven’t had any of our own?

Knowing someone else has struggled and hasn’t had everything go smoothly means we know we’re not the only ones in it and that other’s understand our pain!


What really counts as success or failure, acceptance or rejection? How do we measure them?

What makes life meaningful?


Mark’s gospel speaks powerfully to us of the tension between: Mark 1:1 where we read:

‘The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God’, and Mark 15:34: where at three o'clock, the broken crucified Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"


Mark’s emphasis on the suffering of Jesus, with barely a glance at the resurrection, suggests that the seeming ‘failure’ of the cross is the place where Jesus’ life had most meaning.

“My grace is sufficient for you”. God’s grace was sufficient for Jesus and it’s more than sufficient for you and I.


It’s not easy to bear failure and rejection.

But when we experience them, we are in the best company, that of Jesus.

Mark tells us how Jesus dealt with these things.

He didn’t allow the people of Nazareth to put him in their box with their labels.

He left them with their contempt and took his message elsewhere.

And importantly he didn’t take the failure of Nazareth with him.

So often we let our failures influence and colour other things we try to do. Jesus didn’t.


Jesus drew a line and moved on, and he encouraged his disciples to do the same.

He sent them out into the countryside with the authority over unclean spirits and he ordered them to take nothing but a staff and what they were dressed in.

If ever there was a practical lesson in “My grace is sufficient for you”, here it is. The disciples were totally dependent on God’s grace to provide for their needs through the people they ministered to. And so it was. Although they too experienced rejection they also cast out demons and healed many who were sick.


Shake the dust from your feet from those places that reject you and move on.

Praise God when people listen to the gospel and believe and remember,

Success or failure, acceptance or rejection, whichever it might be wasn’t and isn’t the bottom line.


The bottom line was, is, and always will be: “My grace is sufficient for you”


MP 132 'Father hear the prayer we offer'

https://youtu.be/r1-9wam-2Rk


MP 567 'Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire'

https://youtu.be/VZnwZsmcFvg


MP 492 'God of grace and God of glory'

https://youtu.be/AeUiCZTxOS0 long organ introduction


MP 16 'All my hope on God is founded'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3LCGh02Vew


Blessing: Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of His glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen (Jude 24-25)