Unfinished Business - Audio Service 22.05.22
with Revd. David Burrow
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Suggested Hymns and Songs:
'What a friend we have in Jesus'
'He Lives! I serve a risen saviour'
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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 on Tuesday mornings at 10 am. 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 but we've suggested some links to versions of the hymns below this video. This week's service is entitled 'Unfinished business' and you'll hear Revd. David Burrow begin the service now.
Good morning and welcome to our Tuesday morning act of worship, I'm going to begin with some words from the revelation of John chapter one and verses four to eight, 'John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come and from the seven spirits who are before his throne and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth, to him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his god and father to him be glory and dominion forever and ever Amen. Look he is coming with the clouds every eye will see him even those who pierced him and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail so it is to be, Amen. I am the alpha and the omega says the lord God who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty, Amen.'
Wonderful words from john there, well from God via john, so let us continue in prayer, let's offer our prayers to God. Almighty god we do come to praise you and to worship you on this lovely spring morning and we thank you and praise you that you are the God of creation, the God who has made all things good, we thank you that in creating all things through Jesus that you have provided everything that we need and so we offer you our praise and our thanksgiving. We also come to offer our prayer of confession and for the times that we forget that you are alive, risen lord Jesus forgive us. For the times we forget to celebrate your love, risen lord Jesus forgive us, for the times we forget to tell our neighbor, risen lord Jesus, forgive us. For the times we forget to live as you want us to live, risen lord Jesus forgive us. For the times we forget to open our lives to you, risen lord Jesus forgive us. May the living God raise us from despair, give us victory over sin and set us free in Christ. Lord Jesus Christ we thank you that you do just that that through your death on the cross and through your resurrection you have given us victory over sin, you have set us free in your name and you have raised us from despair from that place of lostness to the heights of your throne, Lord Jesus we thank you and praise you for all that you have done for us and we want to tell you that we love you and that we wish to glorify you and to serve you in all that we do and all that we say and we offer these prayers in your name, Amen.
Photo by Arthur Poulin via Unsplash
Now last week we were with seven of Jesus's disciples on the beach by the sea of Galilee, a group of friends at a bit of a loose end wondering what to do imagine them mooching about and Peter said, 'I'm going fishing' and the other said 'we'll go with you' you know, they understood fishing and they needed to eat but, as I'm sure you remember, they caught nothing even though they were out all night and early in the morning as they approached the beach they saw this man stood on the, on the beach who told them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat, so a few minutes later with 153 fish bulging their net, which didn't break, they recognised Jesus and Peter throwing on some clothes leapt out of the boat and ran through the water to Jesus and they all had breakfast cooked by Jesus, so that's where we're going to pick up the story after they finished eating in John chapter 21 and verse 15. 'When they had finished breakfast Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John do you love me more than these?' he said to him ''yes Lord you know that I love you' Jesus said to him 'feed my lambs' a second time he said to him 'Simon son of John do you love me?' he said to him 'yes lord you know that I love you' Jesus said to him 'tend my sheep' he said to him the third time 'Simon son of John do you love me?' Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time 'do you love me' and he said to him 'Lord you know everything, you know that I love you' and Jesus said to him 'feed my sheep, very truly I tell you when you were younger you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go' he said this to indicate the kind of death by which he will glorify God. After this he said to him 'follow me' Amen.
Peter really didn't understand did he about why his master had lived or died or been resurrected, not at this point anyway, and neither did he understand what the future might hold for him and his friends and then there was this unfinished business of the three times that he had denied knowing Jesus. I wonder if you've got any unfinished business in your life, I've got a pile of things that need sorting out and uh it's nice isn't it when you can cross them off, when they're done you can relax you're at peace because that conversation has been had you know that piece of work has been finished. Unfinished business kind of hangs over you and wakes you up at two and three o'clock in a morning and you wonder when on earth it's gonna be finished. So if Peter had this unfinished business with Jesus why on earth did he run why did he rush with such abandon towards his master that morning and that question, the answer I think is very simple because he loved him because he loved his master his lord and his master and so who was this man that Peter loved well he was the son of God the creator of all things and the savior of humanity no less not just a man standing on the beach was he? And what was this son of God this creator of all things the savior of humanity what was he doing when Peter arrived breathless and dripping wet on the shore what solemn and majestic, what miraculous task was Peter's risen Lord engaged in? Cooking breakfast over a barbeque, it's wonderful isn't it, wonderful there in the ordinary everyday task of cooking breakfast was the risen Jesus, it's kind of mind blowing when you think about it and Jesus had no word of rebuke for his friends, no telling off he simply showed them his love for life and his love for them and he cooked them a much needed breakfast, they were hungry they'd been up all night and he showed them and us that he's present with us in everything we do, in everything we do from the washing up through the cooking and the baking through the walking the going on the bus you know, everything we do the risen Lord Jesus makes the ordinary extraordinary by his presence, I'm quoting a Nun there who I met many years ago on an away day in a place in Chester and that's the one thing I remember that she said, the risen Jesus makes the ordinary extraordinary by his presence, it's so true, I've recognized that so many times in my life you know god is so practical he just slips into the world that he has made so very easily and very naturally, you know we might go looking for him in the sort of wows and all the rest of it but he's there in the ordinary, you know whether you're looking for a spoon to plant your flowers or you know or whatever you're doing, he's there in the ordinary. I mean after all he became a very ordinary baby for us didn't he you know so it's um not surprising that he slips into the every day so easily and comfortably. Adrian Plass that wonderful writer once said 'Jesus still waits quietly on the shore of the real world still willing to feed those who love him to settle and forgive the sins with which we have hurt him and to send us out with quiet minds and stronger hearts to bring others to him.' Lovely quote, the presence of our risen Lord Jesus Christ fills us with peace.
But I wonder, I wonder how peter was feeling as he ate that meal on that beach, do you think he caught Jesus's eye as he was eating? Or did he, you know just feeling a bit guilty still maybe look away you know three times he denied knowing Jesus yeah, he promised Jesus that he would die with him when they're in the upper room so his mind was probably not at peace at this moment it's probably a turmoil, you know well Jesus is here he's fed us you know but oh there's still this unfinished business that was in the way and so Jesus lovingly took him to one side and three questions, the same question but the first one, the second two are slightly different to the first one the first question, 'Simon son of John do you love me more than these?' And then 'Simon son of John do you love me?' And a third time, 'Simon son of john do you love me' and three answers again seemingly the same but with a twist first one, 'yes Lord you know that I love you,' the second one, 'yes Lord you know that I love you,' but the third one, 'Lord you know everything you know that I love you' and then three commands, 'feed my lambs,' 'tend my sheep,' 'feed my sheep.'
Peter had boasted how reliable he was in front of the other disciples, his public denial was acknowledged by Jesus who now gave him the opportunity to be reinstated in front of his fellow disciples. So what can we learn from these questions and from these answers well when Jesus asked Simon son of John do you love me more than these, what's the 'than these' to start off with well it could refer to the other disciples possibly but unlikely do you love me more than you love going fishing it could be that or it could be do you love me more than these other disciples do? Well we don't know for sure do we but all are important you know I, like Peter, I hope that we can answer yes Lord we do love you more than these other, than everything else, everything else in my life, you know, we love you more than these other disciples, well I don't actually know that do I, I don't know if I love Jesus more than you love Jesus I can't say that. Which is why I think peter says Lord you know that I love you, you know everything only you can know the answer to that question, you know that I love you more than, than the people in my life you know you're number one in my life, more than my family and everything you know you're number one that's it, everything else fits into place when we get that one right you know, you know that I love you more than my fishing my job everything else. Nicky Gumbel once said that when he was being, when they were getting ready for marriage him and Pippa his wife you know, before they were married, they went to a marriage lessons, classes, whatever you want to call it and they had to put in order the things that they felt were important in their lives well he said he got the first one right which was God but then he put his ministry and he said, and his children he didn't have any of the time they were right at the bottom of the list, and his wife was like third or somewhere but he said after a while he realized this was not quite right you know God first family next and work after that, ministry after that, this was really quite a lesson for me at the time as well when I heard that, that's another story for another day maybe.
Jesus doesn't ask do you fear me do you honor me, do you admire me but do you love me you know Jesus knows us so intimately he knows us to the very depths of our being he knows how deep our love goes and for Peter this is just the beginning of the next part of the story Jesus's mission which had begun in Galilee and in Judea is about to enter a new and challenging phase and Peter is being called to follow me and head up that new ministry, Peter is called to care for those for whom Jesus cares for, a task that will lead him and many others to suffering as he was told by Jesus you know people will fasten your hands together with with your belt and lead you to places you do not know, you don't want to go to show that was the way that Peter would die, he would walk in the steps of the good shepherd himself and that time the next time he would not shy away from it he would not deny Jesus he would stand in front of the Jewish council and say we have to obey God and not man.
So what is it that's going to transform Peter the fisherman into Peter the dynamic leader of the church well after this meeting on the beach Peter knew the peace of Jesus he knew that Jesus was with him so he knew Jesus's presence but he still had to experience the transforming power of the Holy Spirit which came at Pentecost, peace presence and power, three wonderful p's, peace presence and power, the peace of Jesus, the presence of Jesus and the power of Jesus in the holy spirit and when we know this the peace the presence the power of the risen Lord Jesus what a difference what a world of difference it makes to our lives so I pray that today we will know that peace that presence and that power of Jesus but just one other final thought and this is something that's a work in progress in my head so forgive me if it sounds a bit messed up at times, as a famous comedian once said you know when I go on stage I have like three pieces of material, like three pieces of clay one's one that I've molded and cared for and worked with and I know that that works the second one I've started to work on it and it's kind of getting there but I'm not sure if it'll work so I'll try it on the audience but if it doesn't work I'll go back to the well-known stuff that does work so then there's a third piece of clay which I haven't started with at all and I'll just have a go with that and see what happens, this is a bit like that third piece of clay I thought about it a little bit but not a lot and anyway it's about feeding sheep.
When um when I was a boy we lived over near Skipton, the farmhouse the living room in the farmhouse was at the back of the house and looked out over this little croft and in the croft you know which was fenced in nicely with the wall and and other fences, we used to keep you know various sick sheep or sick cows whatever because it was just a small area we could check on them easily but also in there was you know when the tups the rams, you know the male sheep, make sure people understand what I'm saying when I say tup because not everyone understands that word, you know when they were with the flock they were in that field in that little croft and they had to be fed by hand because there wasn't a lot of grass on this croft and one day my younger brother Stephen who must have been about 11. It was his job to go and feed these tups so he had a bucket of sheep feed and off he went and he went in through the gate and into the field and me and my mum were watching through the living room window and we watched what happened we could do nothing about it because he was over there on the other side of the window, the window wouldn't open whatever, and we watched as he bent over and he laid out this, this food for these tups and one of them seeing him bent over took a few steps backwards lowered its head and kaboom and poor Stephen right in the backside head over heels down the field, that tup wasn't interested in being fed he was having much more fun beating up my brother and then there's in the winter time when the snow sticks on the fields and the sheep are having to use their feet to scrape the snow away to find the grass to eat and I've watched my sister take a a bag of sheep food you know half hundred weight back, she's only little my sister, big heavy bag and she'll go into the field and she'll take this bag and she'll start, open one end of course and, and just spread it along the field and the sheep will all come and follow her and then they will get their heads down and feed, they want to be fed. Okay so sometimes sheep don't want to be fed, sometimes they're really desperate to be fed.
In Jesus's day in Galilee and Judea of course it was different story the sheep were not like hours on the fields as I've said many times before you know just feeding themselves eating whenever they wish, those sheep would be led to still waters to drink and to green pastures to feed and they would follow their shepherd because they knew that he would provide for them and as I was thinking about this this morning it struck me that you know it seems to me that many Christians, and it's probably why Jesus called us sheep are a bit like this, there are those who long to feed a bit like yourselves gathered here this morning you know, made a special trip on a Tuesday morning, why would you? Because you want to be fed, be fed with the word of God and then that you know and that's probably not enough for you, you'll go away and maybe you'll read your bibles and you'll say your prayers and all the rest of it day by day, feeding on Jesus then there's the other other Christians who only seem to want to be fed for an hour every Sunday and don't read their Bibles during the week you know it's gathering dust on the, on the shelf and we know that's true sadly and how much are they missing out on you know they're like the sheep who like this tup who'd much rather do other things like beat up my brother I was just sort of still thinking about this, is this a fair analogy? You know my experience of feeding Christians is that you know when you feed them bible studies you feed them house group stuff and you feed them through prayer meetings you feed them through worship you feed them through courses and lent and advent through alpha through disciples through that, the more they get the more they want and it's wonderful it's absolutely wonderful and the more you have the more you grow the more your faith deepens the more you come to know Jesus and the more you get to know that peace that presence and that power of Jesus but to change the picture you know you can only lead a horse to water you can't make it drink can you? I guess you can only lead the sheep to the food you can't make it eat so it's a it's an ongoing struggle I think, this trying to encourage people to feed. Another picture I've used in the past is you know the, the banquet the picture that Jesus uses this wonderful banquet that's going to be prepared for us and the Christian faith is like that banqueting table that's absolutely loaded with food and some Christians just nibble around the edges when they could really get stuck in and have a really good feast. So not quite sure where that goes but Jesus said you know 'tend my sheep, feed my sheep, feed my lambs' and this is what we're all called to do, this is what we're all called to do, it's really important to be fed and to feed others just as Peter was called to do but Jesus says to us again and again, 'follow me, feed my sheep.'
Let us pray. Lord Jesus we thank you for the gift of your peace, the gift of your presence and the gift of your power in and through the holy spirit and we thank you that your peace presence and power makes such a difference, a world of difference, in our lives so as we hear again that call to feed your sheep and to follow you, we pray lord that you would enable us to do just that as we feed on you in all the different ways that we can we pray that we might feed others in our in our turn, so feed us we pray that we might be a blessing to others for we ask it in Jesus' name, Amen.
And at this point I could, I could have done an advert for Antioch couldn't I because there's all that material to feed on in Antioch you know and if you go online as well, well goodness me there's just so much material to feed on and so get stuck in basically and enjoy we're going to come to God now with our prayers of intercession which I'll end with the Lord's prayer at the end together but feel free to pray out loud or in the silence of your own hearts and I'll open it and close it so let us pray, Lord Jesus we thank you once again that we can meet together to bring to you the concerns of our hearts and so we offer you our prayers now we offer them in your name seeking your kingdom, seeking your glory and seeking peace on earth especially in places like Ukraine, in Yemen Afghanistan and lord seeking again to pray against the powers of evil and proclaiming your power as all conquering and Lord we thank you, you are the God who created all things and you are the God who can change the situations that we pray for and lord so we do pray for the people of Ukraine once more, we pray for their deliverance, we pray for an end to the fighting, we pray for Putin and for a change of heart and mind, cast out the powers of darkness from his world and pour in the light of the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, Lord when we live in times of great distress, we thank you for your word that you are the one who overcomes that distress and that a new perfect love casts out fear and so we pray for an end to the fear on all sides and pray that your love would overcome and so lord we offer our prayers in Jesus' name Amen.
And so we join together in the Lord's prayer, '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 for ever and ever, Amen.
Jesus our savior, the God of the second chance meet us on the shore and ask us, 'do you love me?' Yes Lord we love you. He tells us 'feed my lambs, the flock of my pasture' he asked again, 'do you love me?' Yes Lord, you know that we love you. He tells us 'look after my sheep, my wandering sheep' he asks again, 'do you love me?' and we answer, yes Lord, you know everything there is to know about us you know that we love you, he tells us 'tend my sheep, wherever you go' Amen.
And now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing to the only God our savior through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory majesty power and authority before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Thank you for listening and 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.