• Rossendale Circuit

Sunday Service - 12th of July - The Bigger Picture

Video Service


Please scroll down to view a written service, and click here if you'd like to view directly in youtube.


Part 1



Hymns:


MP 920 Praise the Lord, you heavens, adore Him

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNvoTbO8JFg


Or try this one if you fancy something less traditional and more than 6 minutes long!


MP 1086 Light of the world / The Call

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CKCThJB5w0



Part 2



Hymns:


MP 683 There’s a wideness in God’s mercy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJwfT3SY_PU

MP 987 Here is love vast as the ocean

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


Part 3



Hymns:


MP 882 Lord of all hopefulness

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8mti7VL3gg

or MP 31 Amazing grace

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

Part 4




Hymns:


MP 109 Crown Him with many crowns

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuMh_ept-Js

MP 1227 The splendour of the King

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDgmJFw6F64

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4lSL8Bxago

by Christafari (rapidly becoming my favourite Christian band!)

Also:


Alyssa DeLosSantos’ website:

https://alyssadelossantos.com/2020/07/07/quarantine-chronicles-10-0/




Written Service


Ruth chapter 2 Grace and Blessing – The Bigger Picture.


Call to worship: The world belongs to God. The earth and its people are God’s. How good and how lovely it is to live together in unity. Love and faith come together, justice and peace join hands. If God’s faithful people keep silent, the stones would shout aloud. Creator God, open our lips, and our mouths shall sing your praise.


MP 920 Praise the Lord, you heavens, adore Him

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNvoTbO8JFg


Or try this one if you fancy something less traditional and more than 6 minutes long!


MP 1086 Light of the world / The Call

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CKCThJB5w0


Opening Prayers:


We have heard about you, God of all life.


You made the world out of kindness, creating order out of confusion; you made us in your image: your fingerprint is on every soul. We praise and worship you.

We have heard about your ways through Jesus Christ: the carpenter who left his tools and trade; the poor man who made others rich; the teacher who let himself be ridiculed; the wounded innocent on whom soldiers spat; the one who dies that others might have life; the one who pointed the way to eternal life. We praise and worship you.


We have heard about you through your Holy Spirit; through whom you broke the bonds of race and nation and made all equal. You drew all together in unity and offered community in diversity yet one body: making all things new.

You opened the doors to freedom and life in all its fullness. We praise and worship you.

In silence, in penitence we confess that although you always listen to us we often fail to listen to you. We pray for a wholeness and oneness within ourselves with you and with one another.


A time of silence


God forgive us. God have mercy. God renew us. God makes us whole.

God of love, your kindness and graciousness washes over all who are open to be changed from guilt to grace, from darkness to light. Grant us pardon and grant us peace. Thanks be to God.

Amen

The Lord’s Prayer


Photo by CÔPAL via Unsplash


With thanks to the Rebecca, Steve, Claire & Judith for the reading . . .


Reading: Ruth chapter 2


MP 683 There’s a wideness in God’s mercy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJwfT3SY_PU


MP 987 Here is love vast as the ocean

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


Last week, as I am sure you remember, we left Naomi and Ruth in Bethlehem; the tone was one of sadness and bitterness, but it was harvest time which is a time of hope and promise.


El Shaddai, which can be translated as, God who is sufficient, was about to show why he is so named. But at first, things didn’t really look that way.

Alyssa DeLosSantos describes herself as a Jesus lover, Storyteller, Hope Hunter, Ragamuffin. She also writes for A Moment to Breathe: 365 Devotions That Meet You in Your Everyday Mess – which I highly recommend. On May 6th this year she wrote,


‘I come by doubt honestly. When words don’t align with what my eyes can see, scepticism leads me to discount the likelihood altogether. But faith is the assurance of things I cannot see.(Hebrews 11:1).
When I rely on my nearsightedness, the details I can see leave me swallowed in doubt and paralysed by fear. Things won’t always add up, circumstances won’t always make sense, but my confidence is in my Father, whose eyes see me when I can’t see him and who is assuredly working in ways I cannot see.’

I am sure we would forgive Naomi and Ruth any doubts and fear they might have had about God ability to provide as they pondered their possible future. Two widows, one a foreigner, with no means of support, struggling to survive. The name ‘El Shaddai’ didn’t fit with what their eyes could see but it is within this understanding of God that Naomi places her pain – she gives it to God. The scene is set for a story filled with suspense. What will happen next? The author then drops a plot spoiler and introduces us to Boaz. Two things are important to know about Boaz.


Firstly, he was a kinsman on Naomi’s husband’s side. The crucial importance of Boaz’ family link will become clear later but please note that in Israel the word ‘family’ had a much wider meaning than it does today. Some Bible translations use the word ‘clan’ which gives us a better idea of the all-inclusive nature of an Old Testament family.

Secondly, Boaz was ‘a man of wealth’. This expression can also be translated as valiant, virtuous, a man of substance, integrity, influence and means.

All this is important for the reader to know as they are the reason Boaz will fulfil his role in the story.


So, on with the story!


Ruth, by chance, (or was it, God’s grace?) found herself gleaning in Boaz’s field. Sometimes we speak rather critically of all the rules and regulations in the Old Testament, but each one is there for a reason and the law regarding gleaning was a wonderful one if you were poor, a widow, or a foreigner trying to eke out a living. Feel free to read Leviticus 19:9-10 which instructs the farmer who is harvesting their crop to not reap to the edges of the field or go back to pick up any stalks of grain, or grapes that may have been missed. These were to be left for the poor and the foreigner. God is a God who rescues slaves and cares for the poor, helpless and needy so the laws of the land should reflect God’s nature and provide for these people.


An ancient Rabbi once asked his pupils how they could tell when the night had ended and the day was on its way back.


‘Could it be’ asked one student, ‘when you see an animal in the distance and can tell whether it is a sheep or a dog?’

‘No’ answered the Rabbi.

‘Could it be’ asked another, ‘when you can look at a tree in the distance and can tell whether it is a fig tree or a peach tree?’

‘No’, said the Rabbi.

‘Well then, what is it?’ his pupils demanded.

‘It is when you look on the face of any woman or man and see that she or he is your sister or brother. Because if you cannot do this, then, no matter what time it is, it is still night.’


Any country which claims to be ‘Christian’ today should have laws that reflect God’s concern for those on the fringes of society. Laws should provide for the underprivileged at home and overseas and show concern for a just distribution of the earth’s resources. Any government which turns its back on the poor and the foreigner is walking away from God and will suffer the consequences. (Feel free to discuss).

Providing for others is a mark of blessing and grace.


If a landowner didn’t want to obey this God given law, then they could make life difficult for the gleaner. The poor and the foreigner were dependent on the goodwill of the owner. As Naomi says to Ruth at the end of the day, ‘Blessed be the man who took notice of you’.


Naomi recognised that a much bigger picture was opening up for her and Ruth and it was all down to Ruth’s choice of field and the gracious nature of Boaz. Or maybe God was also busy, working in and through the decisions made and the nature of the people involved? What do you think?


Boaz knew all about Ruth’s kindness to Naomi and put her under his protection: she was to keep close to his young women, he ordered the young men not to bother her and if she got thirsty she could drink from the water vessels the young men had drawn.

And there’s more! There always is with God. Boaz blessed Ruth: ‘May the Lord reward you for your deeds, and may you have a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!’


And we could speak for hours about the symbolism of God’s wings in the Old and New Testaments – but perhaps we better save that for another time.

After blessing Ruth, Boaz wasted no time in beginning to make the blessing a reality. He invited her to share his lunch, bread and sour wine! He ordered his men to make sure that they left extra stalks of grain for Ruth to pick up; so at the end of the day she had lots of grain (about 5 gallons) to take home to Naomi.

Grace and blessing for all!


Ancient Israel is a long way from our time and culture but there are lessons we should learn from this part of Ruth’s story. Both Boaz and Ruth show their faith by caring. Often, we are very short sighted and cannot see God’s bigger picture. Life can be challenging and sometimes downright awful but be assured that God will work through you and others when you are open to him. We are called to reflect God’s graciousness by blessing others and this, of course, includes the poor and the foreigner. God’s grace is defined by Paul in this way, ‘For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you, through his poverty, might become rich’ (2 Corinthians 8:9).


God wants our lives and relationships to reflect his life and relationships. Wherever we find ourselves and in whatever situation the question we must ask is: how can I best show God’s character, grace and love in Jesus, right here, right now?


Chapter 1 of Ruth ended with reference to the harvest even though the tone was one of sadness, bitterness, and poverty.

Chapter 2 also closes with the harvests but now the situation is one of comfort, grace and blessing. A bigger picture has opened up in the light and wonder of God’s blessing and grace.


MP 882 Lord of all hopefulness

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8mti7VL3gg


or MP 31 Amazing grace

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


Photo by Dmitry Ratushny via Unsplash


Prayers of Intercession:


The following prayer is inspired by the words of Teresa of Avila: ‘Pray as you can, for prayer doesn’t consist of thinking a great deal, but loving a great deal.’

Loving God we seek your way.

We pray as we can:

For those who are our care, and who care for us.

Our worries and our responsibilities, but also our joys and delights.

For those dear to us, for good friends, for those on whom we rely.

Silence


Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer


Loving God we seek your way. We pray as we can:

For those alongside who we work and minister.

For all who volunteer to share in the work of ministry, and the urgencies of mission.

For those whose company we enjoy, and for those with whom we have less sympathy or mutual regard.

For the church in her disagreements and disputes.

Show us the way to reconciliation and unity.

Silence


Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer


Loving God we seek your way. We pray as we can:

For a troubled world, where disease, war and thoughts of vengeance come so much easier than belonging, compassion, grace and blessing.

Teach us how to pray for our enemies and show us the path to life for all people.

Silence


Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer


Loving God we seek your way. We pray as we can:

For those who grieve; for those in pain and all who face an uncertain future because of the pandemic.

Silence


Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer


Fill all our lives with your Holy Spirit, your Spirit of power, of peace, of comfort, and grace and blessing that we might open our eyes and see your bigger picture.


Blessing


Go in peace and sow peace where there is no peace.

Go in God’s grace and may our gracious God make you the channels of grace.

Go with God’s blessing and be a blessing to others.


MP 109 Crown Him with many crowns

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuMh_ept-Js


MP 1227 The splendour of the King

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDgmJFw6F64


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4lSL8Bxago

by Christafari (rapidly becoming my favourite Christian band!)


Alyssa DeLosSantos’ website:

https://alyssadelossantos.com/2020/07/07/quarantine-chronicles-10-0/

© 2020 Rossendale Methodist Circuit