• Rossendale Circuit

Waiting For Joy - Sunday Service 13.12.20

with Revd. David Burrow


Video Service

To watch the videos directly in youtube click here.


Part 1


Hymns & Songs:


MP 589 'See him lying on a bed of straw'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79h_5jhzT7Q


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1UI5Ko34XQ (Songs of Praise)


MP 210 'Hark the glad sound'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeBRYhG86x0


Part 2


Hymns & Songs:


MP 697 'Thou didst leave thy throne'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4Bf0IowI3k

a beautiful arrangement


MP 266 'I cannot tell, why he whom angels worship'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yB68PSLTriE


Part 3


Hymns & Songs:


MP 393 'Joy to the world'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Xo64Q2ucQ8

Or for a BIG production -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDmIddF7DfQ


MP 211 'Hark! The herald angels sing'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IGP68i3JvU


& Why not have a listen to this great version of 'Angels we have heard on high'...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n543eKIdbUI



Transcript

*Not always exact to the script


John the Baptist - time to change


On the third Sunday in Advent, we light the third candle to remind us of John the Baptist. This is what Luke said about John in his gospel.


The Word of God came to John, son of Zechariah, in the desert. So John went throughout the whole territory of the river Jordan preaching, "Turn away from your sins and be baptized, and God will forgive your sins." In many different ways John preached the Good News to the people and urged them to change their ways (

Luke 3: 2-3, 18).


John told people that Jesus was about to turn up, and that meant things would have to change. Nothing could be the same again; the world needed to be a fairer place for the poor, the hungry and those treated badly by people with power. Which sadly, sounds very much like the world today – not much has changed. Life is still very unfair for millions of people and it doesn't help if we all think nothing can ever change.


Photo by Carolyn V via Unsplash


Light three candles


In the wasteland may the Glory shine.

Let us wake to Christ’s summons, urgent in our midst.

Let us wake to the truth that his power alone will last.

The worlds that now scorn him will vanish like a dream.

When Christ returns all will see his glory.


Prayers


Gracious God, “Drop Thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease...” Pause

“Take from our souls the strain and stress, and let our ordered lives confess the beauty of thy peace.” Pause


Take our busyness, our excitement, our impatience, our fears and our uncertainties. Pause


Take our confession and lead us to bring good news to the oppressed; lead us to where broken hearts need binding; to where captives can be liberated and to where mourners yearn to be comforted. May we always be ready to proclaim the year of your favour.

We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer


The place: Jerusalem; the time: 700 years before Jesus; the Prophet: Isaiah.

His message: in chapters 1-39 was God’s word of judgement on Jerusalem and Israel and the call to return to God and repent. But then in chapters 40-66 there is a change of tone.


Hope springs forth and there is the promise of forgiveness and renewal. ‘Your God is coming’ promises Isaiah.


I wonder; how are you feeling about 2020?


Are you looking forward to 2021 in the hope that it will be a big improvement on our experiences this year? Or do you expect more of the same?


What does the future hold?


During Advent the church, in its reading of the Bible, looks to the future, as we see in today’s readings.


In Isaiah 61 God’s people are filled with joy and hope at the prospect of finally returning home after 70 long years of exile in Babylon. The picture the prophet paints is one of justice and righteousness; there is, however, work to do. God always works in partnership with his people and the wasteland they called home needed restoring.

Once proud cities needed repairing and the Temple rebuilding. God, through the prophet, offers them words of comfort (v3) and hope (vv.8-11); Israel is to be restored to its former glory. The people’s relationship with God will be restored. It will be like a wedding, a time of rejoicing and praise.

Waiting for joy is not about sitting back and waiting for it to be delivered. It must be worked at. The people had to play their part in the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of their relationship with God.


Read Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11


God planned and prepared his people for the coming of Jesus. Even so they didn’t expect their king, God’s Messiah, to be born into poverty and laid in a manger. They never expected the hope of the world to be found lying on a bed of straw!

So, two choices of hymn. The second is, Hark the glad sound the Saviour comes, the Saviour promised long.


Your first choice though is the popular calypso carol – but do remember as you join in, that the picture we have in our heads of a stable is a lot different to where Jesus was born. Homes were built very differently in Bethlehem. Animals lived on the lowest level of the house with a feeding trough, or manger, set in the floor of the family room which the animals could reach up to feed from. As there was no room in the guest room, which was also part of the house, it seems that the men were turned out of the family room and Mary would have given birth there, wrapping Jesus herself and laying him down to rest in the manger. It was not the best accommodation, but it was all Mary and Joseph had. The newborn king, slept on a bed of straw.


MP 589 'See him lying on a bed of straw'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79h_5jhzT7Q


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1UI5Ko34XQ (Songs of Praise


MP 210 'Hark the glad sound'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeBRYhG86x0


Everything happened as the prophet said, Jerusalem and the temple were rebuilt and Israel returned to worship God. There was, however, a depth of meaning to the prophet’s words that not even Isaiah understood, for he spoke about the time when Jesus would truly fulfil his words. Even so, when Jesus caused a serious stir when he stood up in his home synagogue of Nazareth, took the of Isaiah and read the words of chapter 61 and then told everyone that he was the one who would bring good news to the poor, the imprisoned and the oppressed, and ultimately, through his death and resurrection, joy to all. They tried to kill him then, but failed.


Before all this however, Jesus had to be announced, people had to be prepared for his arrival.


Who was up for the job? Only one person qualified, Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist. He was sent by God as a witness to testify to the light that was coming into the world. John is a model of Christian discipleship, of what each one of us is called to be, a witness, to testify to Jesus the light, ‘so that all people might believe through him’ and be filled with the joy of knowing Jesus as their friend, Saviour and Lord.


Read: John 1:6-8, 19-28 Waiting for Joy


You’ve heard of the great pretender, well here we have one of the great proclaimers, John the Baptist!


Appearing as he did, in the wilderness, with his unusual dress sense and diet John was soon very well known. His forthright and simple message drew people’s attention: God’s long-awaited Messiah, God’s anointed one, God’s Son was about to arrive.

The long wait, and we’re talking over 1000 years, was over.

Joy to the world the Lord had come! Although, sadly, most were not convinced.


Both John and Jesus were sent by God, and yet, John did his very best to make sure people didn’t put him in the same category as Jesus.

John knew he had to fade into the background as Jesus came to the fore.


For John it was not a case of: ‘I’ve started so I’ll finish’. John prepared the way; he focussed the minds of people on to the promised Messiah – God’s anointed one – Jesus himself.

Having said that, John didn’t find it an easy job.

Just look at the way he was questioned by the priests and Levites, powerful people in the Jewish faith sent by the Pharisees: it was almost as if the poor man was on trial:

‘Who are you?’ ‘Are you Elijah?’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ ‘

Who are you, what do you say about yourself?’


John’s questioners were more interested in the messenger than the message, more interested in John than the joyful news he was sharing with them.


Even when John reminded them of the words of Isaiah in verse 23: ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord’ they didn’t seem to hear what he was saying.


They demanded an answer to take back to Jerusalem, to the people who sent them: ‘If you’re not the Messiah or Elijah or the prophet, why are you baptising people?’


They did not hear him, they failed to understand him, and they missed out on the joy of knowing Jesus.

John pointed them to Jesus, but their eyes were firmly fixed on John.


It was tragic. And it’s so often true today, people don’t see past the messenger to the message. ‘She / he’s a lovely person, always helping others, always kind and generous. But no one asks, ‘Why does she behave as she does? What’s her motivation?’


We try so hard to point people to Jesus, reminding them of his gifts of love, grace and mercy, sharing with them our own story and the transformation in our lives that Jesus has brought about and yet, so often they fail to understand what we’re about.

People fail to see past the Christian to Christ and they miss out on the joy of knowing Jesus. A joy which gives us strength even when life is tough.

When the joy of knowing Jesus is our strength nothing can take it away. We have a solid anchor in our spiritual lives.


Photo by Simon Berger via Unsplash


Sometimes, perhaps, it’s our own fault that people don’t hear what we’re saying.

We don’t, like John the Baptist, want to slip into the background, we quite like the attention.

After all, many people want a more spectacular role in life than the one they have because they believe that will bring them joy! Just watch reality TV and see how people will do almost anything for five minutes of fame! Does it spark joy? Fleetingly perhaps, to the viewer and to the winners, but even the most famous of celebrities find themselves searching for real joy. Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury are two who spoke and sang of their search.

We can spend our whole lives waiting, even actively waiting for a joy that lasts, but until we know Jesus and are able to rejoice in his love, mercy, power, and presence, the joy we all search for will prove elusive.

Worldly joy slips through our fingers like dry sand.


Follow the example of John the Baptist.

Point people to Jesus and not to yourself. Sometimes it is tempting to think it’s all about us, when really it is all about Jesus. Only in Jesus is true joy to be found. It’s easy to think of ourselves as simple followers of Jesus, which is true, but it is also true to say that we, like John, are proclaimers of joy. Actively waiting for Jesus’ return and the fulness of God’s kingdom.


Don’t forget, God loves to work in partnership with us and in a society where many people know nothing about Jesus, and so don’t get to experience the joy God wants everyone to know. You and I are called by God to prepare the way for Jesus’ second coming. To be the small light that guides people to the one who is the Light of the World, the one they have been waiting for, the one who sparks JOY. Amen


MP 697 'Thou didst leave thy throne'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4Bf0IowI3k

a beautiful arrangement


MP 266 'I cannot tell, why he whom angels worship'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yB68PSLTriE


Prayers of Intercession:


Heavenly Father, Saviour of all people, across the world, in our own nation and our communities, there are many who have suffered bereavement this year. We pray you would bring comfort to all those who mourn and healing to those who suffer.

And as you do, Father, please fill us with compassion for all those who are hurting. Pause


Loving Father, our Restorer, so fill us with your love that we will long to share it with others that they might see beyond us to Jesus and so come to know him as their friend and Saviour.

Transform people’s hearts so they would have eyes to see and ears to hear all that what we have to share. Pause


Faithful Father, Promise Keeper. We pray for thankful hearts, where we are able to rejoice and delight in the life you have given us as we live in you.

Help us to bring your peace to our families, to our country and into this world. Pause


Father of all creation, our Shepherd, we pray for our world. Help us, like John the Baptist, to speak out for justice. We pray in particular, for the work of those who seek to stand alongside our persecuted brothers and sisters and actively work to set people free. Pause.

We offer all our prayers in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.

Amen.


(Please feel free to add your own prayers)


May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. Amen 1 Thess. 5:23 - 24.


MP 393 'Joy to the world'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Xo64Q2ucQ8

Or for a BIG production -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDmIddF7DfQ


MP 211 'Hark! The herald angels sing'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IGP68i3JvU


& Why not have a listen to this great version of 'Angels we have heard on high'...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n543eKIdbUI


God Bless