PREPARING FOR SERVICES OF WORSHIP EACH SUNDAY

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CALL TO WORSHIP

Prayer of Approach - Hymns - Prayer of Adoration and Praise - Readings from Old Testament - Epistle - Gospel - A Word with the Young - Prayer of Confession - Sermon - Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession - Offertory Prayer - Benediction


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PENTECOST B

Ruth 1: 1-18; Psalm 146; Hebrews 9:11-14; Mark 12:28-34


CALL TO WORSHIP: Based on Psalm 146 verses 1, 5-10

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will sing praises to God all my life long. Happy are those whose help is in God, creator of heaven and earth, who is forever faithful; seeking justice for the oppressed and for the hungry; setting prisoners free and opening the eyes of the blind; lifting up those who are bowed down and loving the righteous. The Lord protects strangers and upholds the orphan and widow; but the way of the wicked is brought to ruin. The Lord our God will reign forever, for all generations. Praise the Lord!.

TIS 90: “I’ll praise my maker while I’ve breath”
TIS 110/AHB 27: “Sing praise to God who reigns above”
TIS 596/AHB 515: “Fill my whole life, O Lord my God ..”


PRAYER OF PRAISE AND ADORATION

We praise you, O God, for being not only the God of history but the God of our story. You have gathered us here today to remind us that although you are the one to whom all power belongs, yet you care for the weak and powerless. You care for us. We praise you for joining your story to ours in such a special way through Jesus, our Lord. He proved his great love for you and for each person in the way he lived - releasing what was captive, lifting up the burdened, empowering the powerless. God, source of loving kindness and strength, we worship you.
Jesus, foundation of our faith, we worship you.
Holy Spirit, ground of our very being, we worship you. Amen


OLD TESTAMENT : Ruth 1: 1-18

SUGGESTION FOR CHILDREN’S TALK : This suggestion based on Ruth may be too long and involved so there is a much briefer one based on the gospel at the conclusion of this one…..

The other idea - draw a cross on a large sheet of cardboard and write ‘GOD’ in the centre of the vertical arm : ‘G’ on top, then ‘O’ underneath and then ‘D’. The ‘O’ should be where the arms of the cross meet. In the centre of the horizontal arm write ‘PEOPLE’ with the ‘O’ common to the ‘O’ of ‘GOD’.

Before showing this, tell how Jesus said that there are two commandments we are to keep and the first is that we are to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength and the second is that we are to love our neighbour as our self. These two commandments are linked to each other like this - show the cross - as Jesus said, when we love God, we love one another - when God is at the centre of our lives we cannot help loving and caring for other people. Ask who did that perfectly - Jesus. His death on the cross shows us that nothing could kill that love and his love lives on in us and strengthens us to be as kind and loving as him. Finish with same paragraph as final paragraph of previous suggested story above.

TIS 629/AHB 558: “When I needed a neighbour, were you there?”
TIS 170: “Thank you, thank you, Lord”
TIS 675/SCRIPTURE IN SONG 580: “Lord, the light of your love is shining
ALL TOGETHER WHATEVER 507: “ Where you tread”


PRAYER OF CONFESSION

Jesus said that the first commandment was this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart all your soul, all your mind and all your strength, and the second commandment is this “You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these” We hear what you are saying to us, Lord, but it is not easy in today’s society. Worshipping position and status, power and wealth seem to be the first commandments of life these days, and when we are so busy achieving these it doesn’t leave much time to care for, let alone love, our neighbour. Help us to re-order our priorities, Lord, so that they are more in tune with yours.

A short silence to reflect on these words

Jesus: Saviour and Lord, we confess that there are times when the pattern of our daily lives is modelled on other than worshipping God and caring for neighbour. All we seem to be creating is a feel-good, self-serving approach to life rather than your costly, self-emptying, servanthood lifestyle; Lord, reconnect us to the desire to live out your commandments of love.

A short silence to reflect on these words

Jesus: Redeemer and Friend, your acts of caring and love, mercy and justice delivered people from lives dominated by injustice and corruption. We confess that when ‘economic rationalism’ rules the lives of people today, competition replaces compassion, ruthlessness replaces forgiveness, and wounding replaces healing. Yet, in the midst of all this you command us not only to love God wholeheartedly, and to love our neighbour likewise, you command us also to love one another as you love us. Lord, stir us into action so that the signs of your powerful love are visible in and through us.

A short silence to reflect on these words

TIS 699: “A new commandment” sung while seated as a conclusion of the prayer


ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS

Jesus truly demonstrated his love for all as he rescued us from lives dominated by evil and sin by his acts of mercy and justice, his suffering and death. Hear then the good news that in and through Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Thanks be to God!


SERMON

The bible consists of a variety of ways of communicating the story of God's relationship with humanity - through stories, parables, poems, wise sayings, conversations etc. The readings for today could come under the heading "Love unlimited" - the love that Jesus lived out in his life, the love that he demonstrated with his death and the love that he bequeathed to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus demonstrated that we should be loving, not only for the good that it creates and the joy that it brings, but by being compassionate and loving, we share in the very nature of God. Morton Kelsey, a contemporary writer on spirituality says that "love is, or should be, the very warp on which the fabric of the universe is woven." So it is not unexpected that the story of Ruth sits alongside today’s gospel.

The story begins with a famine moving a Jewish family - a father, mother and two sons - out of Bethlehem into the neighbouring country of Moab. While in Moab the sons married Moabite women. The father dies and ten years later the two sons die. The mother, Naomi, hearing that conditions had improved back in Bethlehem decides to return with her daughters-in- law, Orpah and Ruth. On the journey, Naomi advises Orpah and Ruth to stay in Moab where they have relatives and perhaps remarry among their own people. Orpah agrees to do this, but Ruth pledges to stay with Naomi and claims as her own, Naomi’s people and her God. “Your people” says Ruth, “shall be my people, and your God, my God.” It is certainly a lovely story of faithfulness of Ruth towards Naomi. We know the rest of the story, Ruth marries the farmer Boaz, becomes the mother of Jesse, the grandmother of David, and the ancestor of Jesus…..

The book of Ruth makes it possible for each of us to understand ourselves...as irreplaceable in the full telling of God’s story. We count – every last one of us – and what we do counts.’1

The book of Ruth It is a love story with love of neighbour written large throughout the story and makes the link with our Christian love…..

It's interesting that Jesus' command that we love our neighbours seems to be dependent on how we love ourselves. Love of self - or self-acceptance, self-affirmation, is a necessary pre-requisite for loving another. We cannot give to others what we do not believe we ourselves have to give.

When Jesus talked about loving God and loving neighbour he wasn't saying anything new to the religious leaders of his day - after all they were steeped in the law - but the words had become codified on scrolls rather than written on their hearts. Jesus was trying to prise the words loose from their legal bindings in order that they might be realised in people's lives….

When we take Jesus Christ seriously and when we acknowledge every man, woman and child as our neighbour, our brother, our sister, then we have to reach out to communicate that love in practical and inclusive terms…..

TIS 641: “This is my will, my one command”
TIS 677: “Christ’s is the world in which we move”
TIS 685: “Lord, I come to you; let my heart be changed”


BENEDICTION

Go into this week,
secure in the endless protection of God
nourished by the selfless love of Jesus Christ
inspired by the renewing breath of the Holy Spirit

1. Eugene H. Peterson, THE MESSAGE (Colorado Springs: Alive Communications,Inc, 2005) page196




Click here to play COMING HOME - A short video recorded of Moira telling her story of faith and her journey through a divine encounter into full time ministry.



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