Deuteronomy 34:1-12: Moses climbs Mount Nebo and views the whole of the promised land. Then he dies, but no one knows where his grave is. After the thirty day mourning period, Joshua takes over as leader of the Israelites.
OR Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18: God commands Moses to tell the people to be holy as God is holy. Commands are then given that they must deal justly and fairly with one another, and must love their neighbours as they love themselves.
Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17: A prayer accredited to Moses, praising God for God’s greatness, God’s help for God’s people and God’s calling of the people to turn back to God. Also a plea for God’s kindness to be with God’s people and for God to sustain their work.
OR Psalm 1: A song in celebration of the righteous whose lives are built on God’s commands, and who, unlike the wicked, bear fruit and prosper.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8: A description of the faithful ministry of the apostles among the Thessalonians, in spite of persecution – a ministry approved by God, free from impure motives or boasting, not seeking special treatment, but caring and gentle.
Matthew 22:34-46: Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is, and he replies that it is to love God with everything and to love our neighbours as ourselves. Then he asks whose son the Messiah is. When the religious leaders reply that he is David’s son, Jesus asks why David refers to the Messiah as “Lord” – and no one is able to give an answer.
(Bible summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Singing from the Lectionary

Is love a rule?
It is said that it is the one rule
containing all the others.
That it’s something we’re to put on,
rather than follow
in a straight line.
For the discerning
love is not a choice,
if life is to be the outcome.
More often love looks like a hard path,
with twists and turns.
It is seldom clear.
And love put on
is sometimes a hair shirt –
an irritant,
and an imposition.
And how do we know
who it is we are following.
Perhaps it’s that we’re not thinking
so much of ourselves,
or balancing on a rigid line.
Love is so encompassing
as to grow in circles.
Within which we,
by loving,
find ourselves.
(Source: Ana Lisa de Jong, Living Tree Poetry, August 2020, published on Godspacelight)

Leviticus 19:16: “You shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:16).
And yet (as a white American) I have profited my whole life from the blood of my neighbors, particularly my Black and Indigenous neighbors. . .In this image (below), the buildings above, foundation-less and hollow, rest on the palms of people of color below, weighing them down and yet dependent upon them for their existence just as our cities were built with the labor of enslaved people on indigenous land. The people, by contrast, have color and dimension, signs of their life and humanity. The blood-red sky above and watery depths below meet with the white skin tones of the buildings to evoke the American flag. I keep praying for the day that America’s white leaders take on a confessional posture, admitting to and apologizing for the ways we have profited by the blood of our neighbors. Ignoring, burying, and denying the truth of our past—and our present—will only drive us further from the heart of God.
(Source: A Sanctified Art)…/profit-by-the-blood

‘Profit by the blood’ – art work by Anna Strickland (from Lev 19:16)

Opening: Being in God’s Presence
Place the objects mentioned in a central place or on the communion table.
On the mountaintop after the wind
after the fire
after the silence you, O God
(Open the Bible)
By the red sea
enemy behind
and ocean before
and the parting of the sea you, O God
(Pour some water)
In the garden
just at dawn
with the gardener and tears
you, O God
(Place a flower)
At the table where crumbs fell but even the dogs feasted
you, O God
(Break bread)
In this moment gathered here
each of us waiting for glory revealed by you, O God
(Either a handshake or light a candle)
(Source: Alternative Material ©2011 Spill the Beans Resource Team)

Matthew 22: 34-40
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together,
and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him,
“’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your mind.’
This is the greatest and first commandment.
And a second is like it:
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

did the religious leaders try to test and outwit you;
was the establishment cynically attempting to discredit you?
Or, did they truly want to know what really matters;
were they sincerely hoping to discern meaning and purpose?
Rabbi, either way, your answer offers us
wisdom and depth,
power and perspective,
direction and hope.
You ask us to love the divine with our whole selves.
With heartfelt feeling,
may we be grounded in the Ground of Our Being.
With soulful holiness,
may we focus on the Spirit of Life.
With thoughtful minds,
may we be centered on the Mystery of the Word.
Jesus of Nazareth, your ministry, your stories, your words
indicate that we cannot love God
without loving what God loves.
Help us to love indiscriminately, generously, outrageously
without blame or boundaries,
without pettiness or positions,
without competition or contention.
Guide toward a love of self that is not
arrogant, egotistical, or self-absorbed.
Direct us away from
guilt, shame, and self-recrimination.
Lead us into being your people for the sake of the world you love.
On this, hangs everything. Amen.
(Source: Diaconal Minister Ted Dodd, United Church of Canada)

Prayer of Approach
Loving Lord, Jesus,
we come into Your presence to worship and praise You.
We come from different places,
different families
and different circumstances.
However we have come here today –
whether the last week has been good or bad,
whether we have known joy or sorrow,
let us leave our cares and concerns aside
and come united in our faith and hopes for the future.
We bring our skills and our talents which You have given us,
and we promise to use them to help others
and to reach out in love
showing others what it means to be a child of God.
Help us not just to listen to Your voice but to obey.
Help us not just to talk, but to put our words in to action,
so that all we do is done in Your name. Amen.
(Rev William Boyle & Worship Leaders at Port Glasgow New Parish Church, Church of Scotland)

Call to worship
‘Don’t look into the sun!’we are told,
for the light will hurt our eyes.
‘Don’t look at my face!’ God tells Moses,
for you will be overwhelmed.
Look at where God has been, look at what God has done,
and bow down in worship, for the awesome God
of Abraham, Isaac and Moses is present this day,
in this place.
(Source: Spill the Beans)

Gracious and merciful God,
we are sorry that we seldom live up to Your expectations.
We are sorry that our promise to follow Your example
and to share Your never-ending love
are too often promises made in vain.
So, forgive us, Lord.
We are ashamed that we fail You so often.
We are ashamed that we do not always follow in Your footsteps.
We ask You to guide us and set us on the right path.
When we are weak, make us strong.
When we are discouraged, encourage us.
When we take for granted all You have given us
and do not share what we have with those who live in poverty, forgive us, Lord.
Remind us that everything we have comes from You
and everything we do is done for the work
and the glory of Your kingdom. Amen
(Rev William Boyle & Worship Leaders at Port Glasgow New Parish Church, Church of Scotland)

We bring to You now our prayers for others and for ourselves. Lord we ask that You bless and guide Your church
here in this parish and throughout the world,
helping us to reach out to others,
sharing with them the good news of Christ
and standing with those who are most in need of our help, love and support.
Guide us in our relationships with others,
within our families, with friends, neighbours
and those who we struggle to love or try to avoid.
Fill our homes and communities with the warmth of Your love, may we learn to love and accept all.
Pour out Your Spirit into the world,
bless those struggling with poverty and homelessness, evil and war.
Help us to reach out to those who are in need.
Bless those who are ill at home or in hospital,
those who are feeling anxious or low,
feeling like they would rather just give up than live on.
May they know Your love and sense Your presence with them and may we as a church
reach out to them in their time of need.
Bless the leaders of nations and people.
Guide them in the decisions that they make,
ensuring they work hard and fight for the people they represent.
Lord, may we always sense Your presence in our lives
and in the lives of others.
Transform us to be the people that You would have us be.
All of this we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Amen
(Rev William Boyle & Worship Leaders at Port Glasgow New Parish Church, Church of Scotland)

Worship Reflection
Deep in who we are is who God is.
A light,
the same light
that lit God’s eye
when God first thought of us.
That was the imagination of creation,
set free from heaven,
and placed in our hearts,
round which gathered soul which grew
into us
and the promise we are.
And every so often
when we speak of God:
the justice that brings renewal,
the love that births universes,
the hope that speaks of reconciliation, that light
round which soul has gathered
flares and burns through the skin,
and lights up our eyes,
for it is alive
and recognises
how close the kingdom has come.
(Source: Spill the Beans, Church of Scotland)

Music: The Great Commandments
(can be sung to tune Sursum Corda, or Morecambe)

We’ll love the Lord our God with all our heart:
that pulsing source of life with steadfast beat
which moves our blood to every cell and part
to feed and cleanse our flesh from head to feet.

We’ll love the Lord our God with all our soul:
that blueprint of our being, who we are,
and who we will be when we’re growing whole
and setting sights on meaning like a star.

We’ll love the Lord our God with all our mind:
our reason, questions, learning and the word,
the treasures wisdom stores for us to find,
the insights sparked by what we’ve seen and heard.

We’ll love our neighbour as we love ourself:
love who we are, though we be flawed or odd.
Love will not flower protected on a shelf!
Meet self and other to discover God.
(Words: Barbara Messner, 21 October 2020)

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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