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22nd Sunday after Pentecost

What follows is a worship service which, I pray, you can participate in at a time(s) that are convenient to you. This 'service' will take about forty five (45) minutes.

I pray that you will feel called to ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in this service.

The text that is in regular typeface (that is what you are reading at the moment) is to be read quietly, while the text that is in
bold face (like you are reading right now) is meant to be read aloud.

Opening Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we commence our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A Call To Worship:

We meet in the name of God,

Creator of the universe,

source of true humanity,

mother and father of all. Amen.

An Assurance of Forgiveness:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

The Absolution
00:00 / 00:18

The Sentence For Today (let us say aloud):

Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning; so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.

The Special Prayer For Today (let us pray aloud):

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Our first reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Deuteronomy 34:1-12
00:00 / 02:23

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
00:00 / 01:52

Gradual Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we raise out voices in praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A reading from the holy gospel according to Saint Matthew.

Matthew 22:34-46
00:00 / 01:37

Listen to David speak to this gospel

In A Nutshell !
00:00 / 11:55

or, if you prefer, you can read the sermon, below:

Sermon Ordinary 30, 29th October 2023

MAY the words of my mouth and the meditations in our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer. <Amen>

“Give it to me in a nutshell” - an old saying — it means, Tell me what I need to know, but keep it short. Don’t bother me with unnecessary detail. Don’t bore me with a long, explanation. Just get to “the bottom line”. We have grown to like things short and sweet. TV news has time only to hit the high spots and to show us a few pictures, but it gives us the big picture in a few minutes. We like that …. Give it to me in a nutshell!

In our gospel this morning, that’s what the lawyer said to Jesus - Give it to me in a nutshell. At least that is what he meant. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?”

This man was not a lawyer as we know lawyers today - he was a religious scholar. The law was Jewish Torah law - Old Testament commandments. There were 613 such laws. You are familiar with some of them. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Others are less familiar. One law, for example, forbade boiling a calf in its mother’s milk. Observant Jews today still take care not to mix meat and milk.

So when the lawyer asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” he was asking about Torah law - religious commandments.

Jesus knows what’s going on. He understands that this man is not seeking wise counsel. Jesus knows ‘trickery” when he hears it. Jesus understands that he is being tempted on to dangerous ground.

But Jesus didn’t let it faze him. He didn’t hesitate for a moment. He answered:

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
This is the first and great commandment.
A second likewise is this,
‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’
The whole law and the prophets
depend on these two commandments” 

Awesome answer, Jesus! Most of us have heard this story before, and knew what Jesus was going to say. Love God! Love your neighbour! How could anyone argue with that?

Well, Love God! Usually not a problem! At least it is not a problem when things are going well. During those times of our lives when we are healthy, wealthy and wise, it is easy to love God. Thank you, God, for my good life! Thank you, God, for my family, my health, my job! Thank you, God, for all my stuff! It is easy enough to love God when things are going really well - although sometimes we do forget God when things are going well.

Ironically, it is often possible to love God when things are going really badly - when life brings us to our knees. Then we find time to pray. Cancer! Pray! Child in trouble! Pray! Need a job! Pray! Struggling with an injury! Pray !

Love your neighbour! Now we get to the hard part. That depends on who our neighbour happens to be.

People who live next door … the quiet ones, the noisy ones? People on the same airplane … considerate ones, ones who take your luggage space or have a crying child? Palestinian or Jew?

It is easy enough to love a neighbour who is doing the right things, but what about the neighbour who WE feel - is not? How can we love such a person?

It might help to know that the love about which Jesus was speaking is not the warm fuzzy feeling that we think of as love. The commandment about loving your neighbour comes from Leviticus 19. That chapter gives us a clearer picture of “neighbourly” love. It says that, if we love our neighbour:

• We won’t render an unjust judgment.
 • We won’t let a person’s money - or lack of it - affect our relationship.
 • We will judge the neighbour with justice.
 • We won’t engage in slander.
 • We won’t profit by the blood of the neighbour.
 • We won’t hate.
 • We won’t take vengeance.

Note that there isn’t anything in there about warm fuzzy feelings. There is nothing about enjoying the neighbours company. Love, in this context, is more about how we act than how we feel.

How can we keep from saying bad things about “neighbours” - especially when we feel our “neighbour” deserves it? How can we control our feelings? How can we keep from hating those who WE feel are bad “neighbours”?

The answer is that we can’t - at least not on our own. If I am going to love my neighbour, I must first love God and then be willing to let God help me to love my neighbour. The lawyer asked Jesus for one great commandment, but Jesus gave him two:

love God, love your neighbour.

The two go together. Each leans on the other and helps to support it.

It’s God’s way, it is a VERY good way, it’s the only way!

<LONG PAUSE>

I runga e te Ingoa o te Atua, te Matua, te Tama me te Wairua Tapu.
In the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit <AMINE>

Pause and Reflect

Just take a moment now to pause. Bow your head, close your eyes.
 

Allow these words of Holy Scripture and this interpretation of them today to speak to you.

An Affirmation of Our Faith

Let us affirm our faith by saying aloud, and together, "The Apostles Creed":

apostles_creed_pic02.jpg
Image by Allef Vinicius

... and now let us pray for the Church, the World, and Ourselves, giving thanks for God's goodness.

​Let us pray aloud, and together:

O God of all justice and peace we cry out to You in the midst of the pain and trauma of violence and fear which prevails in the Holy Land. Be with those who need You in these days of suffering; we pray for people of all faiths – Jews, Muslims and Christians and for all people of the land.

While we pray to You, O Lord, for an end to violence and the establishment of peace, we also call for You to bring justice and equity to the peoples.

Guide us into Your kingdom where all people are treated with dignity and honour as Your children for, to all of us, You are our Heavenly Father.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

(LONGER pause for silent, personal reflection)

Everlasting God, You made a covenant with our ancestors and pledged them descendants more numerous than the stars. Grant that all people may share in the blessings of Your covenant, accomplished through the death and resurrection of Your Son and sealed by the gift of Your Spirit. Amen.

(LONGER pause for silent, personal reflection)

In response to the call today “Lord, in Your Mercy” Our plea is, “Hear our prayer”

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Loving God, we hold the needs of our sisters and brothers as dearly as our own needs. Help us to love you with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our minds and to love our neighbours as ourselves. With these commandments before us we offer our thanksgivings and our petitions on behalf of Your people throughout the world.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Creator God, we pray for the peoples of the world that they may enjoy un-perverted justice whether they be poor or rich, great or small.  We pray that those who use violence and terror to bring about their desires and those who then so readily seek revenge following acts of terrorism may instead pursue all that makes for peace.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Father God, we thank you for our families and friends.  We thank you for modern technology which enables us to hear and see them so easily and to keep in touch even though separated by great distances.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Holy God, friend of those in need, Your Son Jesus has loosened our burdens and healed our spirits. We lift before you those still burdened, those seeking healing, and all those in need.

We especially raise before you all those who have asked for our prayers from around the world … those we know in New Zealand, in Singapore, in Argentina, in France, in Australia, in the US, in Canada, in Austria, in Ukraine, in China and any others we now name aloud, or in the silence of our hearts, and those who are known only by you. <PAUSE>

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Loving God of all consolation, Your Son Jesus was moved to tears at the grave of Lazarus his friend. Look with compassion on those bereaved and grieving at the loss of a loved one; give to their troubled hearts the light of hope and strengthen in all of us the gift of faith, in Jesus Christ our Lord.

May all the faithful departed now rest in peace as they most surely have risen in glory to spend eternity with The Risen Christ.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Heavenly father, in a moment of silence we place before you our personal prayers for ourselves, our families, our friends, for all of those whom we love and, for our personal ministries.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Gracious God, at the start of this new week, recognising Your trust in us to live and preach the Gospel, make us always more ready to offer to You all that is rightfully Yours rather than trying to seek the praise of the secular world

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Forth in the peace of Christ we go; Christ to the world with joy we bring; Christ in our minds, Christ on our lips, Christ in our hearts, the world’s true King.

Merciful father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

lord's_prayer_pic01_edited.jpg

Remembering that we are confident to pray this day, and every day, because Jesus Christ continues to teach us:
 

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,

your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever.   Amen.

Let us conclude our prayers by praying together and aloud:

 

God of mercy,
you have given us grace to pray with one heart and one voice,
and have promised to hear the prayers
of two or three who agree in your name,
fulfil now, we pray,
the prayers and longings of your people
as may be best for us and for your kingdom.
Grant us in this world to know your truth,
and in the world to come to see your glory. Amen.

The Blessing

May The Risen Lord Christ turn His face towards each and every one of you.

May He cause His light to shine upon you, and

may He grant you His peace, and

 

The blessing of Almighty God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

be with you and all of those whom you love,

on this day and forever more.

A Closing Hymn:

Let us conclude our worship today by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we unite in another hymn our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

The Dismissal

Go now, go out into the world

to love and serve The Lord.

 

Go in peace.

AMEN, we go in the name of Christ.

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