• Rossendale Circuit

Promises, Promises...Sunday Service 6.12.20

with Revd. David Burrow


Video Service


To watch the videos directly in youtube click here.


Part 1


Hymns & Songs:


MP 457 'Make way, make way, for Christ the King'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alCQ7fb0hEA


'Prepare ye, the way of the Lord'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yZADh5SUq4

originally from the musical Godspell


MP 493 'O come, O come Emmanuel'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKu0or0t8Uw

big finish!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtOi0IP0DCo

(More Modern Version)



Part 2


Hymns & Songs:


MP 538 On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIr21lLgFpg

traditional


MP 345 It came upon the midnight clear

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjvLBEk1UfU


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WryWS6jj7x0 (Frank Sinatra)



Part 3



Hymns & Songs:


MP 445 'Lord the light of your love is shining'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAFcwns4uHc

Graham Kendrick performs his own song


Colours of day

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo-3lf08y-Y




Transcript - Promises, promises . . .


*Not always exact to the videos


The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. They lived in a land of shadows, but now light is shining on them.

On the second Sunday in Advent, we light two candles on the Advent wreath to remind us of the peace we long for and the prophets of the Old Testament.

Prophets. They might seem a bit strange to us. Some people think they just went around spreading gloom and condemning everybody, ‘Woe to this country, woe to that country’. But no – that’s far too simplistic a way of looking at prophets.


What we celebrate about prophets is this:

They called for justice, they were at the heart of the struggle for right to replace wrong, for dignity to replace oppression, they called for desolate places to be renewed.


They had no time for fake news! They told the truth about what was really going on in the world.


They believed in God’s promises of life in all its fullness even when things seemed hopeless.


They said what they thought even when they were afraid.

Thankfully, there are people like this in the world today, pointing to light emerging from the darkness, and we celebrate them too.


Photo by Mercedes Bosquet via Unsplash


Prayer: For each pause allow yourself to rest in God’s presence.


Advent God, come amongst us.

God of hope, shine your light upon us.

Advent God, we put our hope in you.

Holy God, quieten our minds from their ceaseless chatter.

Still us now as you calmed the storm.

We come before you in awe and wonder knowing our words can never be enough, but aware that they will be acceptable in your sight (pause)

We approach you with thankful hearts for reminding us that you are coming, that we are not forgotten, that despite the worst we can throw at you, you still come. (pause) Our penalty is paid.


Straighten our highways, raise up our valleys, and make our rough places smooth. (pause)


Help us, God of grace and mercy, to prepare a place for you in our hearts, in our street, in our school, in our workplace, in our nation, in our world.


Amen


Readings: Isaiah 40:1-11


A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Isaiah 40:3


Hymns & Songs:


MP 457 'Make way, make way, for Christ the King'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alCQ7fb0hEA


'Prepare ye, the way of the Lord'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yZADh5SUq4

originally from the musical Godspell


MP 493 'O come, O come Emmanuel'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKu0or0t8Uw

big finish!


Reading: Mark 1:1-8 Promises, promises . . . .


When I was a teacher, I soon realised that making threats you couldn’t carry out was a waste of time; I really wasn’t allowed to hang a pupil out of the window by their ankles!

Promises of punishment for bad behaviour had to be realistic so the pupil knew I really could make it happen.


Never promise something that you can’t deliver. It’s true for politicians, from non-existent weapons of mass destruction to oven ready Brexit deals that weren’t oven ready at all. And it’s just as true for parents, teachers, health professionals and everyone else. If you fail to make good on your promises people don’t forget!

John the Baptist found himself facing an uncertain future. He had some big promises to make on behalf of the God of Israel. What an incredibly scary place to be. Here he was, the second cousin of Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Zechariah the priest, facing his destiny without any hard proof or outside reassurances.


The promises of the Old Testament regarding the coming of the Messiah and the one who was to prepare the way for him had lain unfulfilled for centuries, some for over 700 years. People had studied them and wondered about them.


When and how would they come true?

Who did the voice crying in the wilderness belong to?

And when would that voice be heard?

Anyone claiming to be the voice would be making a pretty big claim for himself, and woe to him if he was having the establishment on, woe to him if he did not deliver something earth-shattering in his wake!

I wonder if John was a little scared. It doesn’t appear so.

Appearing in the wilderness, wearing the latest in survival clothing, with a diet to match, he knew how to draw attention. Even so he proclaimed a gospel that hadn’t happened yet. He announced a Saviour before Jesus had even appeared in public, never mind been baptised or started to teach and heal.

John the Baptist was working blind, he was going ahead of the main story, he couldn’t yet see what he was describing. It was quite a risk. What would the outcome be?

When I was a boy, I remember Dad telling me that his father had once put a bob on a horse and as far as he knew the bob and the horse were still going. Betting on a horse is one kind of risk. Businesses making big promises to their customers, especially at this time of year, better deliver on those promises or they could end up in the courts.

John was making promises on which he couldn’t deliver.

He was utterly dependent on God delivering through Jesus.

John’s life was at stake and his promises were unmistakable.


Like Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah, Anna and Simeon, John didn’t have the New Testament as his script, he didn’t have the life, death and resurrection of Jesus for his saving hope. None of those things had happened, but John knew his role and his place.


His message was simple: Repent of your sins through baptism and be forgiven.

Why? Because someone greater was coming after him. He must have been convincing as people wanted to know if he was the Messiah. He wasn’t of course. He was quick to point beyond himself: “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptised you with water; but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.” And John, who was filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth (Luke 1:15), knew what he was talking about.

Thankfully, unlike John, we don’t go ahead of Jesus; we follow him. We do not introduce a story that is yet to be; we tell a story that is ancient and tested on millions of ears.


Photo by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash


We might wonder how some people will respond to Jesus when he makes himself plain to them, but we also know people who have already had their lives transformed by God’s mercy and love in Jesus.


The risk we take is if we do not put our faith in what is already there for us.

John’s promises were fulfilled, and we have the New Testament filled with the truth about Jesus; the fault is ours if we do not read it for our comfort and strength.

We have the witness of the Church tracing a path from Jesus’ day to now; the loss is ours if we do nothing to preserve that witness.

We have all the resources of Scripture and the Community of faith that John the Baptist would have loved to have had. Surely, the least we can do is have a little of John’s courage and something of his prophetic vision.


In that moment, when John baptised Jesus, the expectation of Jewish history was taken from John’s shoulders and placed on Jesus, and the world was invited to look not to Elizabeth’s son, but to Mary’s son to see a new light and a new hope in which to put their faith.


Some choose to put their faith in wealth, some pleasure, others power, fame or glory, or a mixture of as many as possible.

I wonder, where do you place your hope?


You and I don’t have to figure out who the Messiah is and if we have the wisdom to put our faith in God, we know where to find the Light of the world. John had to point in the right direction because he was doing it for people who had little or no idea of who or what he was proclaiming. We only need to follow his gaze and copy his gesture, inviting people to follow and obey the one whom billions of others have followed and obeyed. We are to share a story that has been heard in almost every human language and awakened new life in every sort and condition of person.

Our work, like John, is to proclaim Jesus and his promises. The promise of sharing his joy and the wonder of becoming a new creation and living a new way of life.

At times we may not think that we are very good at this, but God always uses imperfect people like you and me. He does it all the time. Our lives are rooted in God and guided by his love.


As we see the promises of the Light of the World made good in our lives, I pray that we may strive to be that light in the lives of others.

I pray that we will live lives that show God’s love and presence in the world.

Because when we live lives that testify to Jesus’ light, we live lives that are far bigger than ourselves and God’s promises are fulfilled.


Hymns & Songs:


MP 538 On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIr21lLgFpg

traditional


MP 345 It came upon the midnight clear

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjvLBEk1UfU


Prayers of intercession:


Gracious God, Response: Speak peace to us today.


Merciful God, You have been favourable to your people in forgiving us for the times we have neglected you, ourselves and one another.

In your endless love for us you have promised to speak peace over us, that we might turn to you in our hearts and seek to be faithful.

Gracious God, All: Speak peace to us today.


In your Kingdom, steadfast love and faithfulness meet; Righteousness and peace kiss each other.

As you work to set all things right, help us to fix our eyes on this vision of your Kingdom, trusting in your promise that you will give all people what is good.

Gracious God, All: Speak peace to us today.


Loving God, sometimes we struggle to see your vision for the world.

Because of the pandemic and in the war-torn areas of the world it can be hard to see where you are at work. But, in faith, we know that when we pray, when we care and when we act you are present fulfilling your promises to bring healing and wholeness, peace and love. And so we pray for all around the world who suffer today remembering especially the people of Yemen and the Sudan. We pray too for those injured in the explosion in Avonmouth and those who love them.

During these past months we thank you that so many have come together in communities all over the world to support and care for one another. We pray for more of these signs of your kingdom, that our faithfulness might grow and flourish.

Gracious God, All: Speak peace to us today.


Almighty God, we pray for those for whom the waiting is too hard. For the many for whom, redundancy, poverty, debt and hardship has made this year unbearable. For those families unsupported by our social care system.

For those whose mental health makes it hard for to see your goodness.

For those who need a reminder of your steadfast love and faithfulness.

May your love and peace surround them, making a path for their steps so they will not stumble.

Gracious God, All: Speak peace to us today.


God, open our hearts to receive your gift of peace, that we might know that all your promises are true and that in your kingdom there is abundant life for all.

In Jesus’ name we pray.


Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer

Blessing:


We go from this moment, into a week of many moments. Hoping for an encounter with your grace, with your Spirit. Come amongst us and bless us, Advent God,

Amen.


Hymns & Songs:


MP 445 'Lord the light of your love is shining'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAFcwns4uHc

Graham Kendrick performs his own song


Colours of day

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo-3lf08y-Y

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Email us: rossendalemethodistcircuit@gmail.com