Sunday Reflection 25.10.20

Sunday Morning Reflection   25.10.20   

Good Morning , I am Karen Harbison, the Minister of Westburn Parish Church , Greenock and I am glad to welcome you  to this time of worship. Everyone is welcome, whether you are often at Westburn Parish Church, or whether you have never been there in person before. Everyone is welcome as we, each in our own places, our own homes, come to worship God.

What is your favourite game …. be that a sport or a board game or a game of cards ? Do you have a competitive streak ? Are you good at remembering and sticking to the rules ? Today we focus on Jesus’ response to a question about rules and laws , about which law was the most important.

Opening words

Based on Psalm 90.

Into your presence we come, Lord God,

into your dwelling place, acknowledging we are but dust before your holiness.

A thousand years are like a day to you, a day like a dream,

like a blade of grass renewed each morning,

and yet you love us.

Make us glad to worship you this day  and reveal to us your glorious power.

Let us worship the Lord!

Hymn – We worship the God who is holy and we listen to the song ( CH4 769 ) Santo, Santo , Santo – a chant from Argentina

Let us pray

God of love, our foundation and source,

we stand in awe of your unending love for your beloved children,

we know that your great love is given freely and in abundance

for all whatever or whoever we are.

God of love, we give thanks this day for the message, for the commandment,

to love and to be loved.

Guide us in our journey to truly live as you have commanded,

teach us to love you, to love our neighbour, and to love ourselves.

God of love, it is the greatest of your commands,

and though we strive to live each day attempting to fulfil it, we too often fail.

In a world of conflicting allegiances and distractions,

where hate is easier than care, help us to know your love.

God of love, teach us to know a love that is patient, kind, and giving

that seeks justice and equality for all,

that eschews the easiness of discrimination and prejudice

for the brilliance of a world, a community, a life

lived in the warmth of true love, given freely, for and to all.

And hear us as we pray as Jesus  taught

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 debts

as we forgive our debtors.

Lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil

for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory

Now and forever . Amen

Jesus was being asked a question about the law, about the greatest or most important law. The Ten Commandments that were given to Moses  in the wilderness, as God’s guide to the people for the way God wanted them to live together well , honouring God and loving each other had been developed and worked on over the years to the point  that the rules and regulations around life for Jewish people like Jesus had grown into a mass of some 613 commandments governing all aspects of life. Some were positive “Do this…” and some were negative “Do not…” The negative outnumbered the positive (365 to 248). Many found this overwhelming, restrictive and confusing and of course the system gave power to those who thought they knew and understood the rules the best. It was one of those people who asked Jesus the question and the answer Jesus gave got right to the heart of the matter, to what really mattered to God and what was at the heart of the way God called people to live.

Let us hear the Word of God

Bible Reading – Matthew 22: 34 – 40, Romans 12 : 1 -2, 9 – 12

Reflection

Question time in the temple again. Questions to trap Jesus. Everyone was asking questions. From the Pharisees and the Herodians, questions about taxes. From the Sadducees, questions about resurrection. From a lawyer, a question about the Law. “Teacher,” the lawyer asked, “What does the law say is the greatest Commandment?” The mosaic law was complicated— the Ten Commandments were only the beginning, there were hundreds of rules and regulations. Everyone waited. What would be Jesus’ answer? “Love God,” said Jesus, “love God with everything you’ve got, your heart, your mind, your soul, your dreams, your hopes, your passions. Love God, that’s the greatest commandment.” And… Everyone waited. “There is another commandment,” said Jesus, “that is just as important as loving God and it’s this: love your neighbour as much as you love yourself.” And before the lawyer could ask another question Jesus added, “These two great commandments, that’s it. Within these two commandments you can find all the teaching of Moses and the prophets.” The lawyer looked stunned – all his life he had studied the teaching of the law and the prophets, word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, law by law, and Jesus was telling him that what was important was not a detailed study of the law, rather it was a lifetime of discovering what loving God and other people, and loving yourself, was all about.

And that is still what it is all about….a lifetime of discovering what loving God and other people and ourselves means…….. how that heart of love, that core of love guides, enables, sustains and prompts our living day in, day out, each moment, each decision big and small, each action, thought and value.

And that is still what it is all about….a lifetime of discovering what loving God and other people and ourselves means …. and that involves effort , thought, discernment and hard work for although Jesus got to the heart of the matter , he did not say the commandment to love was one that was easy .

Today we are living through a pandemic which means that many of our usual ways of showing love are not possible and when there are different rules and guidelines to follow….. today how do we love our neighbours and ourselves, how do we live in ways that honour God ?

Today across our world there are laws in many places which lead to discrimination, injustice and cause our sisters and brothers to weep and struggle…..today how do we love our neighbours and ourselves, how do we live in ways that honour God ?

Mother Teresa said ‘Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.’

May God bless as we continue to live in the love that calls us  to live God’s way in all things. Amen

Let us pray

Ever loving God,

creator and guardian of all

we come together today, in praise and joy

to give thanks for your love and to rejoice in the gifts you have given.

We pray for our world, which has been terrorised by the implications of Covid-19.

We ask for your eternal protection on those who work to keep your beloved children safe.

In a time where the interdependence of all people has become ever more evident

and yet the divisions that plague our societies have become ever more obvious,

we ask for the boldness to acknowledge our prejudice and to work for justice for all peoples.

We pray for our neighbours near and far and ask you to guide our living so that we show kindness and compassion, tolerance and understanding, growing in our love for our neighbours and you.

We pray for each other, those we know and love but cannot meet

in our church communities at this time.

We pray in quietness for people and situations in our minds and on our hearts this day.

Ever loving God,

Hear these and all our prayers. Amen

As we close our time together and return to our daily rhythms may we find ways of loving God with our hearts, our minds and our souls,  and of loving our friends, family and neighbours. Go now with God’s love sustaining you today, tomorrow and every day.

Amen

And we hear the tune of the blessing song

Filled with the Spirit,

Filled with God’s grace

Filled with the friendship we find in this place

Called as disciples

Go now in faith

Jesus will show the way.

Go out and serve him, serve him

Carry his word into all of the world.

Go out and serve him, serve him

Go now and serve our Lord.

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