• Rossendale Circuit

The heart of the matter - Sunday service 13.09.20

with Revd. David Burrow

Video Service


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


Part 1


Hymns:


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

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

tune: Coverdale


MP 560 'Praise my soul, the King of heaven'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA_D9ypWONQ (with a little extra)


Part 2


Hymns:


MP 111 'Dear Lord and Father of mankind'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqOnjmr9Ah0


MP 582 'Rock of ages'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUuR7cKgTbc


Part 3


Hymns:


MP 914 'Only by grace can we enter'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lC2URqGrJE (no lyrics)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hv72Q23lIp0 (with lyrics)


MP 488 'O Breath of Life'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QHZB_v0ZaY


Acoustic version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lpCy3Qq3VI


Part 4

Hymns:


MP 449 Love divine, all loves excelling

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGGcqhKShQ8


Powerful Royal Albert Hall Version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igs3mNsppsI


MP 809 Blessed be the name of the Lord

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYrcrP1ysjw



If you want to listen to even more music over on our youtube channel we've got 3 playlists that will be updated regularly with our top picks of great songs!


Uplifting Worship Songs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA0A3PA98zk&list=PLrD4FX4mPyrfxbVij47YfhQvoK9A9ItuS


Calming Worship Songs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7bT4qfeZRY&list=PLrD4FX4mPyrdThzcdt7iyCMWTfh05TwE5


Traditional Worship Songs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2ECKqYLsBs&list=PLrD4FX4mPyrdeA64FCJGH6vS9lWYqC6D8



Transcript


*Please note the videos do diverge from this at times.



God’s Forgiveness: the heart of the matter.


Call to worship: Psalm 103:1-13


This beautiful psalm is sung on the day of atonement by the Jewish people and each morning by Greek Christians. It’s a thanksgiving for God’s goodness for both physical and spiritual healing.


The psalm was written after the people of Israel had returned home from their exile in Babylon. In remembering Israel’s sinful past the writer focuses on how the Lord has forgiven their sin, healed their diseases, redeemed their lives and renewed their youth (3-5). All thanks to his love and mercy!


Verse 8 is a wonderful description of God’s justice: mercy, graciousness and love combine to provide justice.


God longs to forgive his people their sin and show them his love. This doesn’t mean that the actions of the sinful go unnoticed, but God has mercy ‘on those who fear him’. God doesn’t hold grudges or keep a record of our sins, and thanks to the cross of Christ he can forgive and remove them so we can begin our lives anew.

Photo by Lina Trochez via Unsplash


Hymns:


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

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

tune: Coverdale


MP 560 'Praise my soul, the King of heaven'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA_D9ypWONQ (with a little extra)


Prayer: You are holy, Lord, the only God. Your greatness and love overwhelm us.

Your mercy and grace surround us and your forgiveness never ends.

So, we come to you in confession.


Forgive us for everything that has spoiled our witness for you; our unwillingness, so often, to forgive others as you have forgiven us. Cleanse us we pray and renew us.

Fill us and strengthen us by the power of your Holy Spirit that we might be changed and made more like Jesus each day. For this we ask in his name. Amen


The Lord’s prayer


Last week we saw how Jesus focussed on God’s compassion for all those who sin and are lost, and his desire to restore them to their Christian community. His concern wasn’t about protecting those sinned against or the holiness of the community.

But at the start of our reading today, Peter asks the question that would have been on many of our lips. It’s fine worrying about the sinner, but what about those of us who have been sinned against? How many times do we have to forgive?

Peter upped the traditional number of three times, as taught by the Jewish leaders, to seven. He probably thought he was being generous. How often do we think about ourselves before thinking about the needs of others?

In answer to Peter’s question, Jesus shares a parable, only found in Matthew, that puts the focus firmly back on God’s forgiveness, which, after all, is the heart of the matter.


Read Matthew 18:21-35


Hymns:


MP 111 'Dear Lord and Father of mankind'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqOnjmr9Ah0


MP 582 'Rock of ages'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUuR7cKgTbc


Photo by Kristina Litvjak via Unsplash


When your life is being threatened by a man wielding a machete, forgiveness isn’t a thought that springs to mind.

Perhaps if he’d come to me later to ask for forgiveness, I may have been able to give it to him. But what if he’d returned and mugged me the following week and then sought forgiveness again?


Once would have been difficult, twice a serious ask.

I can’t even imagine how I would have felt after seven times or seventy-seven times! Would I have wanted vengeance and therefore have been in danger of allowing the desire for revenge to eat away at me?


Or would I have been able to forgive as God forgave me; to pass on just a drop from the ocean of forgiveness that God has already given me. There’s no end to forgiveness.


To answer Peter’s, and our question, Jesus told the story of the unforgiving slave.

Please note slavery was known and practiced amongst Jews almost as much as in other parts of the Roman Empire and slaves were not as we might imagine them.

Some were given positions of great responsibility and authority by their owners, running whole estates and even being involved in making bids on other estates, so losing a great deal of money was always a possibility.

The amount of the first slave’s debt in Jesus’ story is, however, unimaginable for most of us.


The talent was the highest unit of currency, and ten thousand the highest Greek numeral. Jesus is laying it on thick to show how unlimited the king’s forgiveness was.

The compassionate king forgave the whole debt and Jesus made his point: there’s no end to forgiveness.

The slave was being given the opportunity to put things right. He wasn’t going to be sold, and his wife and children were safe. Surely it was time to rejoice and celebrate with his family and friends? But no. His heart was unmoved.

How do we know? Because as soon as he met the slave who owed him a very much smaller amount of money (one six-hundred-thousandth of his debt!) he demanded payment and when the slave couldn’t pay he showed no mercy and threw the man into prison.


It was the height of ingratitude and injustice.

No wonder the rest of the slaves ‘were greatly distressed’ and reported him to the king: “Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” seems a reasonable question.

The king, like you and I, could see the link, but the slave had missed it completely.

The king’s forgiveness had changed the slave’s situation but not his heart.

As Ian Paul writes, ‘The receipt of forgiveness must lead to the offer of forgiveness if it is to complete its real work.’ 


Jesus told his disciples that God, his heavenly Father, will do the same to us, as the king treated the unforgiving slave, if we do not forgive from our heart.

Excuse me? Is God really like this king who is ready to punish unjust behaviour?

In many ways, yes.

Jesus’ answer is that our heavenly Father although owed a great debt, is moved with compassion as we turn to him, and forgives our debts at great personal cost – the life of his only Son, who pays the price of our forgiveness. There is no end to forgiveness.

It is often said that God accepts us as we are, which he does.

But the mistake many people make is that of the unforgiving slave, they don’t expect to be changed.


They assume that life can just carry on as usual which would suggest that they don’t recognise that there is a cost to being a disciple.

Paul makes it very clear throughout his letters in the Bible that to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour is to become his slave, opening up our lives to receive his love and forgiveness and to be transformed by the power of his Holy Spirit living in us.

We are changed, as Charles Wesley writes, from glory into glory.


God is also a king who will see that justice is done.

This means we don’t have to look for personal revenge.

We can leave that to God and try and forgive others as we have been forgiven. I am sure, that like me you don’t always find forgiveness easy or straightforward. We can’t swallow all our resentment and forgive and forget as though nothing has happened.

‘The key thing is’, to quote Tom Wright, ‘don’t ever give up making forgiveness and reconciliation your aim’.

As we saw last week, there may sometimes be a need for confrontation, but the goal is never revenge but healing and reconciliation.


When I find it hard, even impossible to forgive, I look to Jesus on the cross and remind myself of all he suffered so that I might be forgiven.

I also look to the example of several others, and one person’s story always stays with me.


It is the story of Phan Thi Kim Phuc, who is recognised globally from a photograph taken of her as a nine-year-old girl running down the road from a napalm attack during the Vietnam war – her clothes burned from her back. Please check out the story for yourself.


Kim was left with painful and life-limiting scarring that made her “feel unfit to be loved”. In 1982 she just wanted to die, but she shouted out to God, “God are you real? Do you exist? Please help me. If you are real, I need you. I need a friend I can talk to and share my burden with.”

Through a Christian cousin’s invitation to church God answered her prayer and her many questions, and over Christmas 1982 she gave her life to Jesus.

Her journey has been a long, and often painful one, but during it she has helped many people struggling with their own tragedies.

In a recent interview in Christianity magazine, she said, “From my heart, I want to tell the person who dropped the bomb that burned me: ‘I love you. I pray for you. I forgive you.”


There is no end to forgiveness, God’s forgiveness: which is, after all, the heart of the matter.


Photo by Abigail Keenan via Unsplash


MP 914 'Only by grace can we enter'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lC2URqGrJE (no lyrics)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hv72Q23lIp0 (with lyrics)


MP 488 'O Breath of Life'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QHZB_v0ZaY


Prayers of Intercession:


As we pray this week it’s good to ask God for the power to forgive others in the same way that we have been forgiven, just as Jesus has us pray in the Lord’s prayer.

And, when we don’t want to forgive, because, let’s be honest there are times when we like to hold on to our anger and our desire for revenge let’s ask God to help us to want to forgive. Even to ask him to help us to want to want to forgive. It’s an important first step in offering the gift of forgiveness when we would rather not.

It is also an important prayer to pray for when we find it difficult to forgive ourselves, despite the fact that God tells us he is willing to forgive us.

Loving God, please help me to forgive others as you have forgiven me.


Amen


Further prayers for God’s refining fire to cleanse creation.


Gracious God, our world is broken.


There is so much this week that seems to be on fire. The Amazon continues to burn, wildfires rage along the United States West Coast, a fire has destroyed the largest migrant camp on the island of Lesbos leaving people with nothing, a fire has broken out in the port area of Beirut and the flames of war still burn in Yemen, Syria and many other places.

There is so much pain, so much injustice, so much that is wrong with our world and so we pray against all that is evil; we pray for all who suffer as a consequence of evil and we pray for God to reach out in love and show his power.


Come, Lord, with your refiner’s fire: cleanse all that is wrong, all that is evil, from this world.


We look out into a society, and a country torn apart by the impact of Coronavirus and the way it has affected so many of us differently.

As we wait for the dawn, for the end of this time of darkness, we see great injustice at play in the way the virus has affected those already vulnerable. We see isolation and mental health crises. We see joblessness and livelihoods destroyed. We see racial injustice highlighted and white supremacy emboldened.

Come, Lord, with your refiner’s fire: cleanse all that is wrong, all that is evil, from this world.


We look out into a world where so much is still wrong – so much is not as we wish it was. As we look out onto that world, Holy God, show us a road to healing. We see poverty, and many people going to bed hungry tonight. We see climate change, continuing to affect the most vulnerable, continuing to destroy livelihoods around the world. We see structures and systems built to allow the rich to get richer and the poor, poorer.

Come, Lord, with your refiner’s fire: cleanse all that is wrong, all that is evil, from this world… And let it begin with me.


Living God, show me what is mine to do. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.


Blessing: The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.


Amen


Hymns:


MP 449 Love divine, all loves excelling

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGGcqhKShQ8


MP 809 Blessed be the name of the Lord

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYrcrP1ysjw


God bless.

© 2020 Rossendale Methodist Circuit