• Rossendale Circuit

The Beginning of Something New and Wonderful - Audio Service 16.01.22

with Revd. David Burrow

Audio Service

Or watch on youtube here.

Subtitles available on the video, please click the 'cc' button.

Suggested Hymns & Songs:

Suggested Hymns & Songs:

'Be still for the presence of the Lord'


'Lord of all hopefulness'


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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. We've suggested some links to versions of the hymns below this video. This week's service is entitled 'The beginning of something new and wonderful' and you'll hear Reverend David Burrow begin the service now.

Good to see you all again, the beginning of something new, and wonderful. Sounds promising doesn't it?

Let's start with Psalm 19. 'The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pause for speech and night tonight declares knowledge there is no speech nor are there words. Their voice is not heard. Yet their voice goes out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world. In The Heavens, He has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy. And like a strong man runs its course with joy. It's rising is from the end of the heavens, and it's circuit to the end of them and nothing is hidden from its heat. The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims His handiwork.'

Photo by Ian Schneider via Unsplash

I wonder if you've made any new year's resolutions this year. No? So no one's gonna say well, I've made some but they've already been broken. (No cause I always break them so I didn't bother) Well I made a New Year's resolution many many years ago and I've not broken it since and that was to never make any more new year's resolutions. Because willpower isn't all it's cracked up to be is it? You know, temptation comes in many different forms. Whether it's trying to lose weight, decide to get fit. Stop smoking or something, I was reading Nicky Gumbles 'Bible in one year', he was saying that he's a member of a gym and at the beginning of every year the gym brings out loads of other instruments of torture. You know. After the first two weeks they all get pushed back away again because all those people who started have stopped.

So we need help if we're going to make a New Year's resolution to, to keep them and to move from the old to something new and wonderful. You know those visions you have on the TV of this new wonderful body you're going to get if you do this diet or that diet and, we need probably to be creative and creativity is a wonderful thing. You look at a blank canvas, our resident artist Val will know all about this. You know a blank canvas is transformed into a glorious picture by the wonderful touch of an artist's brush. A sculptor looks at a piece of marble and sees something wonderful in it, you know, something I would never see and suddenly they bring out of that piece of marble or a piece of wood or whatever, this incredible creation you know, even in the hands of a genius, you know, a pile of junk can become a real piece of art.

A transformation from the old to something new and wonderful and human creativity it seems is is endless art, music, literature, science. And yet when we stop and take notice of our world, actually stop to be still and take notice of our world and creation. We can only pause and wonder at the marvel and marvel at the astonishing creativity of God. I don't know if you've looked at the pictures from the Hubble telescope recently, every so often, I go and have a look because it's just awesome. And I wonder what they'll be like with this new telescope that has recently been put into outer space to see further back into time than ever before. It's going to be something rather special.

The beginning of Genesis paints a picture of God's amazing creativity, creation from chaos, the beginning of something new and really very wonderful. We read in Genesis chapter one. 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, Let there be light and there was light. God saw that the light was good and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day and the darkness he called night and there was evening and there was morning, the first day,'

To try and capture that in your mind's eye is, rather difficult. Space. Empty, formless and dark. Darkness and this idea of chaos seem to go together. Yeah, I wonder why we're so scared of the dark. You know. The scenes no different in the dark. The wardrobe's still a wardrobe. Under the the bed's still under the bed. There aren't any monsters actually in there. Yeah, we imagine all kinds of things, don't we? And that's not just the children. I remember that TV advert. You know when Johnny Vegas is having dinner with, is it Johnny Vegas? I can't remember who it was now, he was having dinner with his wife and another couple and one of the kids rings up and says they're frightened of the monsters in the wardrobe or something, so she says it's not the monsters in the wardrobe you want to be frightened of it's the burglars coming through the window, it wasn't Johnny Vegas anyway, not to worry. It was Peter Kay, it was Peter Kay. Thank you. But yeah, that that fear of what we can't see. Even when there's, we know there's absolutely nothing there.

When we look at these words that the writer of Genesis uses to describe how things were at the beginning. You know, formless and empty, and darkness and deep. I mean it's a foreboding picture isn't it, if ever there was one, if ever there was one. But thankfully he says the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And that's a lovely picture in itself. And the Spirit of God moved in power and brought light and life in all its wonderful variety and colour. The Spirit moved and it was the beginning of something new and wonderful.

It's said that the deepest darkness is just before the dawn. But if you've ever sat on a hilltop and watched the sunrise, you'll know that when the light breaks forth a new day is revealed in all its glory. And as individuals and churches we have our dark times too times of chaos when life seems to be falling apart. When the darkness is a very scary place indeed.

But as the light of God, the Spirit of God comes into that darkness we often discover a time that is the beginning of something new and wonderful. This account in Genesis reminds us that God is there in the darkness and the chaos, bringing light and life and always the promise of the beginning of something new and wonderful.

So let's pray. Father God, we thank you for the promise of something new and wonderful as we think about your creation, and the wonder of it all. We want to praise you and worship you. And so we come to offer our praise to offer our worship, to bow down before as your children to wonder and to look in awe on all that you have made and all that you have done for us in and through Jesus Christ. Forgive us we pray those times when we have messed up when we've damaged the wonder and the beauty of your creation, when we have caused pain to you and to one another. Forgive us and restore as we pray by the power of your Spirit. That each new door may find us looking forward to being with you and to experiencing each and every day, something new and something wonderful for we ask it in Jesus's name, Amen.

Something new and something wonderful, Mark, the beginning of Mark's gospel. It starts like this 'The beginning.' It's a good way to start, isn't it? 'The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ the Son of God. It is written in Isaiah the prophet, I will send my messenger ahead of you who will prepare your way. A voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord make straight paths for him and so John came baptising in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him confessing their sins, they were baptised in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camels hair with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message, 'after me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptise you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.' At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw Heaven being open, and the Spirit descending on him like a dove, and a voice came from heaven. 'You are my son, whom I love with you. I am well pleased.' Amen.

Sometimes wonder what the tone of voice was of that voice. But that's another issue for another day. We could only imagine that can't we, but John the Baptist, John the Baptist appears very much in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets, pointing towards a new revelation from God, and he calls the people to prepare for the new way of being, to leave their old ways to turn to God and be ready for the beginning of something new and something wonderful and Jesus arrived, not sweeping away all of the old but transforming it. He baptises with water occasionally, as John did, but more than, more importantly, Jesus baptises with the Holy Spirit. God identified Jesus as his son. So revealing himself not through messengers anymore, not through prophets anymore, but through Jesus, who he loved.

It was such a wonderful, intimate relationship, which is now available to me and to you and to everyone. To whole churches, and to whole communities. God calls us as individuals into the beginning of something new and wonderful. For Jesus, His baptism in the hol- in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit descended, that was certainly the beginning of something new and wonderful. That's when his ministry started, of course, after this he was taken off into the wilderness to be tempted. Baptism marks the beginning of a whole new episode of Jesus's life. It was something new and something wonderful, and the Christian life is always one of being called to move on with God. There's no standing still. But there's always the promise of the beginning of something new and wonderful.

And just as an example, let's take the church in Ephesus, if you go to Acts 19, just the first seven verses you read these, read these words, it starts with 'while Polus was at Corinth', Polus was one of Paul's friends and disciples and so on, Polus is in Corinth at the church, there and while he was there, 'Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? They answered, No, we've not even heard that there is the Holy Spirit. So Paul asked them what baptism Did you receive? John's baptism? They replied. Paul said John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is in Jesus, on hearing this they were baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about 12 men in all.' The church at Ephesus was transformed from a powerless group of 12 men, as it tells us, to a people filled with the power of the Holy Spirit's how do we know this? Well, because the Spirit showed himself in their gifts of tongues and prophecy, and Paul had daily discussions with them, which we're led to find out went on for two years. That's a long discussion. Two years but he spent two years with that church in Ephesus. And it says that he was with them for two years so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. In two years, the whole of the province of Asia, heard the word of the Lord. Now even allowing for a bit of exaggeration, that's a tremendous claim, you know, what a change in Ephesus. You know their baptism in the Holy Spirit, was certainly the beginning of something new and wonderful. Before they'd been baptised for repentance, John's baptism, the water baptism, but now they've been baptised in the Holy Spirit, and the whole thing exploded. The whole thing exploded.

So we see how this is possible, this new change this new, the beginning of something new and wonderful. So what about us today? What about us today? At the beginning of a new year, still just only 11 days in, COVID still very much a fact of life and all the terrible situations as we look around the world that we see happening in the world. You know, all of this is still true. Can we look forward to the beginning of something new and wonderful?

(Yeah.) Good, good for our communities, for our church and for ourselves as individuals. And the answer is yes, if we are ready to move in the power of God's Holy Spirit. You know, being a faithful Christian is impossible on our own, but with the power of the Holy Spirit living in is, all things are possible. And if we're going to live each day in the power of the Holy Spirit, we need to be open to the Holy Spirit, and being open to the Holy Spirit means asking every day to be filled to overflowing, how many times have I said that, countless times, before your head leaves the pillow in the morning, asked to be filled with the Holy Spirit, for the power to live that day. Being open to the Holy Spirit means seeking to recognise God in all that we do and experience, you're aiming to miss nothing that he wants to give us or to share with us. You know, God, God reveals Himself in so many different ways in our life during the day and so often we miss things. Sometimes it's good just to step back and take a moment and say, God, you know, what are you saying to me, at the moment? What are you saying to me through this person through this relationship? What are you saying to me through this particular job that I'm doing, what you're saying to me about, you know, the people I meet when I'm on the bus or going shopping, excuse me. What are you saying right now, about that person, sat across the way? How should I pray for that person?

Being open to the Holy Spirit means being, asking these questions as we go on the plane to Portaventura. We recognise that the Holy Spirit is the only link between God, between God and us. If we grieve the Holy Spirit, we're cut off from God. And if that happens, how will we know what God is saying to us? Or how he's going to work in the world and in our lives? So we need to be open to the Holy Spirit. So we don't miss the way God wants to show us or tell us what he is about today. Why be open to the Holy Spirit, because God still speaks to us today. And be ready. Be ready. Be ready for the Holy Spirit to speak. The Holy Spirit will sometimes lead us out of our comfort zones. But he'll not lead us anywhere that goes against what the Bible says that's important. There'll be challenging times they'll be uncomfortable times but we will be where God wants us to be. For a creation to get started, the Holy Spirit was needed, hovering over the waters. For Jesus to get started. The Holy Spirit was needed, baptised in the power of the Holy Spirit. For the church at Ephesus to get started the Holy Spirit was needed as those followers of Jesus were baptised by Paul in the Holy Spirit. So for you and me today, there's no getting away from it, the Holy Spirit is needed. The Holy Spirit is our supernatural help, who brings us into a wonderful, intimate relationship with the Father. And just as importantly, the Holy Spirit is the one who gives us the power day by day to live in that relationship. For us, everyday, lived in the power of the Holy Spirit can be the beginning of something new and wonderful.

Let us pray. Come Holy Spirit, come into our hearts and lives as we open them to you today. Come Holy Spirit, come in power and help us to live in the way you want us to. Come Holy Spirit and begin something new and wonderful in our lives, as a church and as individuals in Jesus's name we pray. Amen.

Let us pray also, for a few moments for the world and for the church and for those whom we love. Let us pray. Father as we invite your Holy Spirit into our midst, into our lives, so we bring to you as because, we don't pray just for ourselves, we bring to you those situations those people in the world who are really struggling today and we remember the people of Afghanistan and their terrible suffering. And we pray that your Holy Spirit would move over the chaos in that nation and bring peace and order, and we pray that your Holy Spirit would hover over the peoples of Yemen and bring an end to the suffering there. And I pray that your Holy Spirit would move over the church where it is persecuted. And bring a sense of your presence of your peace and of your power and knowledge of the fact that you are working in those churches in such a wonderful way. And we pray for protection. And we pray that through the example and the witness of our brothers and sisters in those nations where they are persecuted. We pray that their example would inspire us that your Holy Spirit might work through our lives and through our churches. To bring glory to you as we seek to serve our communities.

And Father, we pray for the healing power of your Holy Spirit to fill the lives of those who grieve. Father today we pray for the family of Olive. Pray too for Bill's family and for Jimmy's family. For Mary's family. And Lord as we pray for these grieving families and those who continue to grieve over the loss of loved ones over these past few months. We pray that your Holy Spirit would come as the comforter as the one who brings peace and Lord in the memories, brings a smile and brings joy. So we thank you that we have the promise not only of something new and wonderful in this life, but in the life to come. And we thank you Lord God, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and our saviour 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 forever and ever. Amen.

Let us pray Lord Jesus, we thank you that you feed us with the bread and the wine of the new Covenant, something new and wonderful. And we ask your blessing on us once more as we seek to follow you, Amen.

And let us share in the grace together, 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.

Thank you for listening. 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 rossendalemethodistcircuit@gmail.com.

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