• Rossendale Circuit

Sunday Service - 5th of July - Your Story Has Power

With Revd. David Burrow


Video


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


Part 1


Hymn:


MP 327 'Immortal, invisible, God only wise'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spE-BE23qxA


Part 2


Hymns:


MP 119 'El Shaddai'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8txqw-u4V78

MP 486 'Now thank we all our God'

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


Part 3


Hymns:


MP 1012 'These are the days of Elijah'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca9LnzJnpjQ

MP 564 'Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation.'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNq0WtMSmIY

with lots of extra Hallelujahs!

THE BLESSING AUSTRALIA - Churches UNITE to sing The Blessing over Australia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOt7baaVSbEv


See more poems in our Poetry Corner.



Written Service


Circuit Worship

Ruth chapter 1 Your story has power . . .


Come to God who calls you in Christ.

God calls us in Christ

Come as you are for God is with you

Come as you are for God works with you

Come as you are for God walks alongside you.

God is with us.

God works with us

God walks alongside us.

Come to celebrate God’s blessing, the gift of life.

The gift of life is ours to share.

Come to rejoice in the grace of God, the gift of hope.

The gift of hope is ours to share.

Come to be glad in the glory of God, the gift of love.

The gift of love is ours to share.

Thanks be to God. Amen


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash


MP 327 'Immortal, invisible, God only wise'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spE-BE23qxA


Prayer:

Almighty God, we praise you for life, hope, and love.

All sufficient God we praise you for all you provide.

Forgive us when we take your gifts for granted.

Forgive our lack of trust and our ungrateful hearts.

As we confess our sin, we thank you for your forgiveness and mercy.

Silence

Fill us, we pray, with your Holy Spirit and empower us to walk in your way and through our lives glorify your name.


Amen


The Lord’s Prayer


Read: Ruth chapter 1


MP 678 'There’s a quiet understanding'

sung by Jackie Shove from Rakefoot Methodist Church


A Story of Tragedy and Hope:


A tragic beginning and a happy ending! Apologies for the spoiler but you probably knew that anyway. The beginning of this story is sadly being played out all over the world in the lives of over 70 million refugees and displaced people.


A famine forced Elimelech, his wife Naomi and their two sons to leave their home in Bethlehem (which ironically means ‘House of Bread) to find a safe place to live.

The story takes place in the time of the Judges.


If you have read the book of Judges you will remember how it was a time of war, bloodshed and great suffering when, ‘the people did what was right in their own eyes’ (Judges 21:25). You will know the stories, among others, of Deborah, Ehud, Gideon and Samson.


People who simply wanted to live in peace often found their land being destroyed by invading armies and bands of raiders.


We all know about the terrible dangers faced by refugees and asylum seekers around the world, but have you pondered the implications of the statement, ‘everyone did what was right in their own eyes’?


In our society, which is often referred to as ‘post-modern’, we find people who say things like, ‘If it feels good, do it.’ Or, ‘As long as no-one gets hurt, I can do what I like.’


It’s an attitude that puts self, first; where facts no longer matter, and ‘spin’ is everything – ‘fake news’.


This attitude leads to all kinds of suffering. People always get hurt when others are being selfish and seeking to satisfy only their own desires.

This was life in the time of the Judges but, thankfully, also like today, there were people who thought of others before themselves. We have seen this happening so often during the lockdown – people willing to put their lives on the line to look after others – and we thank God for their compassion and selfless acts of caring. There are many stories to tell and one day I am sure we will hear more of people’s love, loyalty, faithfulness, and kindness.


Likewise, the book of Ruth is also a wonderful story of love, loyalty, faithfulness, and kindness. And to find these qualities at such a time and in a place of such suffering comes as a great relief to anyone who has just finished reading Judges.

The beginning of the story offers promise after disaster.

The family have escaped the famine in Israel and settled in Moab but then Elimelech dies. However, Naomi still had her two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, who both married local girls. And for about ten years life carried on, although no children were born.

Then there’s a twist to the story.


Mahlon and Kilion both died in quick succession and Naomi, Ruth and Orpah were all widowed. The grief must have been intense, especially for Naomi who had lost her husband and both her sons.


All this in the first five verses!


Does this opening to the story resonate with you? Do you identify with any of the characters?


Life for a widow was far from easy. They were often treated as second class citizens and the future looked bleak for all three.

However, as we focus, not on the big picture of Israel (as in Judges) but on this specific family we are reminded that God, who created the cosmos, is interested in the small details of our lives. (Back to the sparrows again!).


God is almighty and powerful, but he is also your heavenly Father who loves you.

Your life, your story is important to God.


In the face of suffering God gets involved, He doesn’t wave a magic wand but works in and through others to bring healing and wholeness.

There are times, and I am sure this is one of them, when we ask questions of God: “Where are you in all this suffering?”


There are no easy answers but as Christians we look to the cross of Jesus and remind ourselves that God entered into our suffering in Bethlehem.

God took on human flesh. Born into life as a refugee he was at home with the poor and the outcast.


His stand against the political and religious powers of the day led to his arrest on trumped up charges and to his death.


Abandoned by many of his friends (but not the women) he was laid in a borrowed grave and it seemed like death and the powers of evil had won.

But the power of sin had been overcome by Jesus’ self-sacrifice and the power of death was defeated by Jesus’ resurrection.


To those who believe, turn away from their sin and turn to God, Jesus promises a new life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit; a life knowing that whatever might happen to us we can know the peace, presence and power of God now, and throughout eternity.


Naomi and Ruth’s story reminds us of God’s care, provision and faithfulness in our lives.

With many tears, Naomi thanked her daughters-in-law for their loving kindness and then tried to persuade them to go back to their own families while she returned to Bethlehem. She was concerned for their future.


They would have a much better chance of remarrying if they went home - and Naomi was prepared to lose them for the sake of their future happiness and security.


Orpah eventually left but Ruth showed extraordinary loyalty to Naomi. Her love for Naomi was unselfish; there was no thought for her own future needs.

In verses 16-17 we read Ruth’s famous words:


“Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die; there I will be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!”

And so Naomi gave in and Ruth accompanied her to Bethlehem.


The chapter ends with their safe return, but Naomi wanted to change her name to Mara, which means ‘Bitter’, because the Lord had dealt harshly with her and brought calamity upon her.


This is her experience and is one many people share in today.

Why did she think God had dealt harshly with her? We don’t know the answer to that, but Naomi believed God had, in some way, been responsible for her suffering.

Maybe we would see things differently, but it is a fair question.


Naomi, like Job, challenges God to answer her claim. How will he answer?


And yet, Naomi provides her own answer by calling God ‘El Shaddai’, which translates as God Almighty. Some interpret ‘shaddai’ as sufficient – God is the all-Sufficient one and meets our every need. God is power and provision. God takes my weakness and gives me his strength. As Paul writes, through his, Paul’s weakness God’s power is made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9).


As Naomi and Ruth returned to Israel it was just coming out of its own economic lockdown; life was beginning to return to ‘normal’ but there were still challenges to face and the new ‘normal’ would be very different from the one they had known in the past.


Ruth is referred to as a foreigner, the Moabite, and she and Naomi had no source of security other than one another and God.

But God was about to use their weakness to show his power.

It was harvest time, a time of hope, and that was symbolic of all that was to come.

El Shaddai, the God who is sufficient: do you recognise his presence in your story?

And will you share it?


Jackie, one of our church members has, I am pleased to say, already shared an insight into her story in a short poem:


And why? Well because El Shaddai, the God who is sufficient is only a prayer away.

MP 119 'El Shaddai'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8txqw-u4V78


MP 486 'Now thank we all our God'

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


Covid by Penny:

Why do things have to be different, Lord? I don’t do different. Why can’t I go to church and sing and pray and hear Your Word and meet my friends? I find different very hard.

Why has my world turned upside down and inside out and back to front And nothing seems to fit any more? And I’m upset. But ah! I see now! You, Lord, - You do different! And yet You’re still the same. You enable different.

You embrace different. So I can see, Beyond my screen of muddledness –

You. Still there for me, for everyone. But now I must connect with You in different ways,

and times,

and even places. You’re here!

in me, with me   Ah! Now I see You clearly once again, love You and seek to obey You In this stronger,

fuller, more deep-bounded way that’s new  

yet old  

and surely everlasting. Thank You Lord! 

My Saviour and my Friend. Thank You!


Prayers of Intercession:


Jesus, broken on the cross, we bring to you those, who like Naomi and her family, are suffering from broken dreams, broken relationships and broken promises . . . .

Jesus, have mercy on them.


Jesus, who lost everything, we bring to you those who have suffered loss of work mobility and well-being . . .

Jesus, have mercy on them.


Jesus, defenceless victim, we bring to you those who are victims of violence, abuse and false accusation . . .

Jesus, have mercy on them.

Jesus, alone and destitute, we bring to you those who are lonely, homeless and hungry . .

Jesus, have mercy on them.


Jesus, who cried out, ‘My God my God, why have you forsaken me’, we bring to you those who are struggling with their faith.

Jesus, have mercy on them.


Saviour, you died that we may be brought back to you, save and raise up those who have no-one to turn to but you.

Jesus, have mercy on them.


May the Christ who walks with wounded feet walk with us on the road.

May the Christ who serves with wounded hands stretch out our hands to serve.

May the Christ who loves with the wounded heart, open our hearts to love.

For this we ask in his name,

Amen


Churches in Australia have united to sing: The Blessing Australia. Thanks to Roy and Joan for telling me about this.


Here is how it begins:

The Lord bless, you and keep you, make his face shine upon you, be gracious to you.

The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Amen


The blessing is worth 7 minutes of anyone’s time – so listen to it after our final choice of hymns


The second hymn is a great hymn of praise which has been used on many great state occasions.

I have chosen the first one, because with the world as it is, it is particularly appropriate: it really is time for God’s year of jubilee:


MP 1012 'These are the days of Elijah'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca9LnzJnpjQ


MP 564 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNq0WtMSmIY

with lots of extra Hallelujahs!


THE BLESSING AUSTRALIA - Churches UNITE to sing The Blessing over Australia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOt7baaVSbEv

© 2020 Rossendale Methodist Circuit

Email us: rossendalemethodistcircuit@gmail.com