For Sunday November 4, 2012
Year B, Twenty third Sunday After Pentecost
Green :: Deuteronomy 6:1-9 :: Psalm 119:1-8 :: Hebrews 9:11-14:: Mark 12:28-34
Editor’s Note: We are in the midst of about 25 weeks of texts which are less connected by one theme than to each other week to week. The lectionary follows somewhat sequential readings in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Psalms which supplement them. The New Testament Readings are also sequential week to week, but do not necessarily fit a theme. Given this, I will be attempting to tie Call to Worship and Invocation to Hebrew Scriptures; Stewardship and Communion to Gospel and Epistle with little concern for overarching theme.
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 119
L: Happy are those whose way is blameless,
P: For they walk in the law of the LORD.
L: Happy are those who keep the decrees of the LORD,
P: For they seek God with their whole heart.
L: Fix our eyes on the commandments of the LORD,
P: And we will not be put to shame.
L: Learn the upright ordinances of the LORD,
P: And we will praise God with upright hearts.
Hear O God, this word from YOUR Church: The LORD is our God, Help us to love you with all of hearts, all of our souls, and all of our might. Help us to keep your commandments, and to teach them to our children. As we gather in worship today, we gather as a people seeking to claim your promise and revel in your generosity. Draw our awareness to your Spirit, O God, and make us whole. Fill our hearts with love, bless our hands with ability, and guide our minds to serve you. We offer these prayers in the name of your Son, Jesus the Christ.
When the scribe received the answer from Jesus about the greatest commandment, he responded that keeping the commands Jesus said were “more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Jesus deemed that a wise response. Loving God and loving your neighbor is more important than any offering or sacrifice, because in fact, they are offerings and sacrifices in their own rite. In our modern society we tend to show love for God and neighbor through our collective efforts: food banks, homeless shelters, assistance ministries . . . And we support them with our offerings. As you consider what you will return to the LORD today, I have only one piece of advice: give in a way that shows you love God, and love your neighbor.
O God, our God, the one true and everlasting God, we love you. We love you with all of our hearts, all of our souls, and all of our might. Take these gifts: emblems of our love, and use them. Bless the gifts and all who have brought them to further your reign. Help these gifts reflect our love for you and for our neighbors. Amen.
The writer of Hebrews reminds us that when Jesus entered the Holy Place and stepped to the altar before the actual throne of God, it was not with the blood of goats or calves, but his own blood. On that day, in that hour, Jesus offered a perfect and eternal sacrifice to atone for sin. So as we come to this table, and see this cup, we are called to remember Christ’s blood: the perfect offering, and give thanks. While we know we are not worthy, we come because Christ has invited us to do so.
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