• Rossendale Circuit

Unbroken Promises - Sunday Service 21.03.21

with Revd. David Burrow, Janet Helm & David Hollows


Video Service

Watch directly on Youtube here.


Part 1


Hymns & Songs:


MP 882/SF 526 'Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy.'

(In this hymn we ask God to be with us each day of our lives and in verse 3 there are even the words, “Your hands to welcome, your arms to embrace…”).


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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BP1ecUkOTB8


MP 501/SF 563 'O Jesus, I have promised'

(In this hymn, although the opening verse is about our promise to serve God, the remainder of the hymn is about God’s nearness and support for us.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_JLAwhag3Y

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


Part 2


Hymns & Songs:


MP 142 'Father we love You'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QltVKW6wXdo


MP 990 'I will offer up my life'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWP05Fm39sY (sung by Matt Redman)



Part 3


Hymns & Songs:


MP 563 'Praise to the holiest in the height'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjPhcD75E34


MP 506 'O Lord my God!'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rm4O_UdItY

A brilliant reggae version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opA7UmbzJdU


More Congregational Version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USM71JqV30o


'Rescuer' by Rend Collective

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leh-4fCc5MI (with lyrics)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAg7rn7fH3Q



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Transcript


Hello and welcome to this week’s service. This Sunday, March 21st is the Fifth Sunday in Lent but it is also the First Sunday of the Passion. The word, “Passion” comes from the Latin for suffering but the Greek origin includes also the idea of needing to act on that suffering, so the two ideas can be combined to come up with a definition which means a “willingness to suffer for what you love.” This means that today we begin the period of time in the church calendar where we think about what Jesus was prepared to endure on a cross because of His love for us. Yet, even knowing what that final price of His life on earth would be, Jesus spent the three years of His ministry welcoming all to follow Him. Do we always welcome others in the same way as Jesus welcomes us? Do we need to let some of our prejudices go and reach out more?


Prayers of Praise, Confession and Thanksgiving


Lord Jesus, throughout your life you held your arms open to your people.

As a baby in a manger, you welcomed strangers from near and far, embracing all peoples.


On the cross, you held your arms open to the world.

God incarnate, God crucified and risen, we praise you for all you sacrificed to welcome us.


Lord, forgive us for not welcoming others as you do.

We confess that we are quick to note the differences between ourselves and other people but you treat each one of us in the same way.

We thank you that even though we have sinned against you, your embrace greets us each time we turn back to you and so we would ask for your help to break down the barriers that exist in our families, our communities and the wider world so that all may know your everlasting love.


Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer.


Hymns & Songs:


MP 882/SF 526 'Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy.'

(In this hymn we ask God to be with us each day of our lives and in verse 3 there are even the words, “Your hands to welcome, your arms to embrace…”).


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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BP1ecUkOTB8


MP 501/SF 563 'O Jesus, I have promised'

(In this hymn, although the opening verse is about our promise to serve God, the remainder of the hymn is about God’s nearness and support for us.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_JLAwhag3Y

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


Introduction


When he was still a young man Jeremiah was called by God to be a prophet. This was around 620 years before Jesus was born. The kingdom of Israel in the north with its capital in Samaria had fallen to the Assyrians and Judah in the south, with Jerusalem as its capital, was about to be threatened by the next superpower on the block – namely Babylon. The Babylonians, under King Nebuchadnezzar, eventually conquered the Assyrians and not long after destroyed Jerusalem in 587BC.

Jeremiah proclaimed God’s word of judgement and salvation as all this was going on around him, and if you want to read a tale of intrigue, power mongering, faithfulness and betrayal them I would recommend the book of Jeremiah with all its twists and turns.


Having proclaimed a word of judgement God then changed tack as he called Israel and Judah to look to the future together, to be reconciled to himself and to one another.

God offered them a new hope; a promise based not on guilt and judgement but on a relationship with him of love and peace.


Read: Jeremiah 31:31-34


God’s original covenant relationship with his people was like a marriage; God was their husband he says, but the people broke that relationship of trust.

So what of us?

Contemplate for a moment the image of God taking your hand and promising to give to you the whole of himself, just as the couple do in the wedding service.

God’s hand is a symbol of belonging, acceptance, trust, faithfulness, strength, security, identity, love – God offers it all! And what do we do with his offer?

The Israelites broke their promises, but do we also break our promises to God?

God promised to change the covenant from a law chiselled in stone to a relationship of love written on our hearts.

God isn’t interested in getting bogged down in the past or with pinning blame on people.

God offers a new start, a new future and it’s not a vague wishy-washy kind of promise; God very clearly states: “I will put my law within them, I will write it on their hearts, I will be their God, I will forgive their iniquity, I will remember their sin no more”.

No matter what my sin, God will draw me to himself and forget the pain I have caused him!


God’s love could not be greater.

What a promise, what a revelation! Thank God he is faithful and keeps his promises!

How are these promises of God in Jeremiah made possible?


In the last week of Jesus’ life, crowds of people were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover festival. Philip and Andrew, the only two of Jesus’ disciples with Greek names, were sought out by some Greeks who wanted to see Jesus.


Did Jesus speak to the Greeks?

We don’t know, but it did seem to ignite in him something about his hour. In John chapter 2, at a wedding party when the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother Mary asked him to help out. Jesus turned water into wine but not before he told Mary, “My hour has not yet come”.

But now Jesus changes things around, his hour has now come, and that hour is the hour of his crucifixion when he will be glorified. Listen to John tell the story.


Photo by Andrea Tummons via Unsplash


Read John 12:20-33


‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified’. (verse 23)

Jesus often uses this phrase in John’s Gospel.

We understand that the hour of Jesus’ glory was the hour of his crucifixion – as crazy as that sounds – but what did Jesus’ followers make of his words?


When Jesus called himself the ‘Son of Man’ he was referring to the book of Daniel in the Old Testament, chapter 7 verse 13, which is part of the writer’s history of previous world powers, two of which we have already mentioned: the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Medes and the Persians.


All were cruel savage rulers, so sadistic that they could only be described as wild beasts: a lion with eagle’s wings, a bear with three ribs between its teeth, a leopard with 4 wings and 4 heads and the terrible beast with iron teeth and 10 horns.

The writer’s hope in Daniel was that God would intervene and a new world power would arise, a gentle, humane, gracious power, depicted by a man – the son of man.


So, when Jesus said, “The hour has come when the Son of Man must be glorified”, his listeners would have caught their breath.

It’s time for heavens armies to march, for a campaign of victory to begin and time for God’s enemies to grovel beneath his feet’. Or something similar!


The disciples’ thoughts must have been shattered when Jesus spoke not of life and power but of sacrifice and death. Jesus’ word picture of a single grain of wheat falling into the earth and dying in order to bear much fruit made sense to the farmers and crop growers. It makes sense too in terms of the more seeds that die the more fruit you will harvest – it’s rather like an R rate in agriculture!

But what did it all have to do with glory?

And how did that link in with Jesus’ reference to losing your life if you love it and hating your life in this world is the way to keep it for eternity?

It doesn’t seem that the disciples understood any of this until after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

But in that moment, as Jesus spoke of death and how his soul was troubled, their dream of a new future free of Roman rule was replaced with a much darker the vision and over it all hung the shadow of the Cross.


For you and me, and all who profess to follow Jesus here is the acid test of faith.

What are we willing to give up? What are we willing to die to in our journey of faith?


Although Jesus’ language is about dying to self he is really talking about life – the way to life comes through death. The seed in the ground dies to produce fruit.

Death is the blowing out of a candle because the dawn has come. A new beginning comes after change, after letting go of what we once held dear.

Elite athletes often speak of the sacrifices they have made to be able to compete in the Olympics. Sacrifices for personal glory are worth making! And hopefully we will be able to cheer on our athletes this year in the Olympics, from a very safe distance.


Henri Nouwen turns the issue away from personal glory and to what Jesus had in mind in verse 25: ‘How can I die in such a way that it brings fruit to the world; the church; the community; myself?’


Jesus knew the answer to that question – the only way to bring fruit to the world, the church, to communities, to every individual was for him to die physically and spiritually for at the heart of Christ’s suffering was the suffering of his soul!

And in verse 27 we read how the human, suffering Jesus opens his heart: ‘Now my soul is troubled’. John doesn’t tell us about the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, it is here where we see the human Jesus battling with his human longing to avoid the cross.

The Greeks wanted to see Jesus, but, who wants to see this Jesus? No, let me put the question this way: ‘Who needs to see this suffering Jesus?’

I would answer, everyone dealing with the impact of change, loss and death.

Those who need to know that Jesus has also suffered, who need to know Jesus is still here with us today and who will continue to be with us tomorrow.

Who needs to see this Jesus?

The world; the church; the broken – we all need to.

But we also need to hear this Jesus as he says: “And what should I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father glorify your name.”


And God spoke: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

His Father was with him.


Jesus knew, that when he was lifted up on the cross, he would drive out Satan, the ruler of this world. He knew that he would defeat the powers of evil, and through his sacrificial death draw, not just the Greeks, but people from every nation to himself.


Jesus knew that the only secure foundation for an eternal kingdom is sacrificial love.


“Father, glorify your name in me”, is the ultimate prayer of faith, hope and love.

When we pray it, we cannot be sure where it may lead, even when we know God is with us.

But what we do know is this, it is the only guarantee of eternal life.

Allow God to write his law on your heart and say with me, “Father, glorify your name in me”?


Hymns & Songs:


MP 142 'Father we love You'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QltVKW6wXdo


MP 990 'I will offer up my life'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWP05Fm39sY (sung by Matt Redman)

Prayers of IntercessionDavid Hollows

We come now to God with our prayer requests for those we know and love and for the needy of our world. Please take this opportunity to offer your own prayer requests or use the following prayer: On this first day of Spring, loving God we remember before you those who are still in the winter of their lives; those persecuted for their religious or political beliefs, those imprisoned because of their nationality, those who are trafficked and those who are denied basic human rights and justice. Great God, we simply request your provision and protection to these whose lives are affected by those more powerful and for those who will try to support these broken lives. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen


As we continue to worship God, please feel free to sing the following hymns of praise: Hymns & Songs:


MP 563 'Praise to the holiest in the height'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjPhcD75E34


MP 506 'O Lord my God!'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rm4O_UdItY

A brilliant reggae version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opA7UmbzJdU


More Congregational Version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USM71JqV30o


'Rescuer' by Rend Collective

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leh-4fCc5MI (with lyrics)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAg7rn7fH3Q


A Blessing upon you: Go into the week ahead and live every day with Jesus. Go into the week ahead and live every day for Jesus. Go, and be so richly blessed that you are His blessing in this His world.


Amen

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