Loving God With All Our Parts

CALL TO WORSHIP: God is our creator, through Jesus, He gives us a new start; He fills us with His Holy Spirit. He calls us to be His people. He invites us to be His friends. Let us worship Him now.

What does God’s law say? It says ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’

Lord, we bring our whole selves to You today. Speak to every part of us, so that we may love You and work in our lives so that we may serve You as we ought. In Jesus name we pray. Amen

HYMN 31: COME, LET US ALL UNITE AND SING-StF.

PRAYER OF ADORATION: In the Bible we are told how God gave the law to His people through Moses. This law was to show them how to live in His world, and how to treat one another. It also told them that God loved them and cared about them. The law was written on two tablets of stone.

Lord, let all that we are praise You.  We will praise You as long as we live.  We will sing Your praises with our dying breath.  Our hope is in You, the Lord, our God.  You created heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them.  You keep every promise forever.  We stand amazed at how awesome You are!

Magnificent Father, today, we revere and honour You. You are our God and we submit our loyalty and adoration to You. You are the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. You existed before time and created everything that exists.  Lord, only You have held the ocean in Your hand.  You measured off the heavens with Your fingers and You know how much the earth weighs!  You are truly amazing!  Father, all nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket to You. They are nothing more than dust on the scales.  You pick up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand!  Lord, You sit above the circle of the earth, the people below are like grasshoppers to You.  You spread out the heavens like a curtain and make Your tent from them. 

When we look up at the sky, we know that You created every star that we see.  You bring them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name.  Because of Your great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.  Lord, You are the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth.  You never grow weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of Your understanding. You are good to everyone and shower compassion on all of Your creation. Mighty King, You are our banner and shield, our strength and protection. 

Lord Jesus, You are our Saviour, our Redeemer and through You we are justified.  Holy Spirit, You are our Advocate, our Helper and the source of our power. We reverence and honour You, the Triune God. AMEN

TALK FOR ALL: THE GOLDEN RULE

You might remember that last week’s Gospel story spoke about rules – and how many of them we have to follow in life. There are family rules and school rules… and while we don’t usually talk about them, we even have some understood rules about what we do (and don’t do) here at church, don’t we?

Sometimes it feels like life is so full of rules that we can hardly keep up with them all. But there’s one rule that is so special – so important – that it’s known by people all over the world by a special name: The Golden Rule.

The Golden Rule – which Jesus teaches in today’s Gospel reading – is called this because it could almost take the place of nearly all the others. If you are following this rule, chances are pretty good that you’re not breaking any others (whether they’re God’s rules or rules that we’ve created).

Do you know what it is?

It’s sometimes said in slightly different ways, but the point is this: treat other people in the same way that you would like to be treated. In today’s Gospel story Jesus says the same thing with a little bit different wording. He says to “love your neighbour as yourself.”

Think about that. If you loved your neighbours as yourself would you hurt or kill them? (No) Would you lie to them? (No) Would you steal from them? (No)

Do you see why it’s called The Golden Rule? With all of the rules in the Bible – and there are a lot – Jesus tells the Pharisees today that all they need to know comes down to just two things: Love God and love your neighbour as yourself. (Do you think you can remember them both?)

So this week let’s remember The Golden Rule – and show our love and respect to others in just the same way we would hope for them to show these things to us. I promise that it will make all the difference.

Let’s pray.

Dear God,
We thank you for Jesus’ lessons – and for this one in particular. Help us to love others as we love ourselves.

Amen.

HYMN 403: GOD IS LOVE: HIS CREATION CARE – StF

PRAYER OF CONFESSION AND THANKSGIVING:  Gracious God, thousands of years have passed since You gave Moses the law; and yet we come to confess that we still have not learned to keep it.

The Bible says, ‘Do not twist justice, and always judge people fairly.’ Lord, forgive us when we twist facts to suit ourselves, and blame others for our mistakes.

The Bible says, ‘Do not spread gossip.’ Lord, forgive us when we enjoy Telling unkind tales about others.

The Bible says, ‘Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives.’ Lord, forgive us for grumbling about others.

The Bible says, ‘Do not seek revenge.’ Lord, forgive us when we try to get our own back.

Forgive us when we forget that You are Lord in the way that we behave towards others.

You see everything, but to those who are truly sorry, You say ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Help us to leave judgment to You, and to treat them with love, as Jesus did. Amen

READINGS: MATTHEW 22: 34-46

HYMN 615: LET LOVE BE REAL, IN GIVING AND RECEIVING– StF

SERMON: LOVING GOD WITH ALL OUR PARTS

The Pharisees and the Sadducees had been trying to trap Jesus for a while.  They had asked him questions of legality and morality.  They had asked him about the lawfulness of paying taxes, and now they asked about scriptural interpretation.  Although He had proved to be a more than worthy adversary for them, this time they thought they had him.  They were on what they considered to be their home turf – the Scriptures.  It was the Pharisees and their forebears who, through the study of Scripture, had taken the 12 original commandments and turned them into 613 different rules, or commandments of their own making.  They knew that whatever Jesus said in response to the question, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” would have to run afoul of one or more of the 612 remaining commandments.  But Jesus not only knew the only way to avoid their trap, He also knew exactly what they needed to hear.

“‘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.”  This is that exception to the rule about literal reading.  There is nothing about Jesus’ statement that can be read any way other than literally.

I’ve said many times that I believe the entirety of the Bible can be summed up in Jesus’ two commandments.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind.  And Love your neighbour as yourself.  If we can really do those two things, Jesus says we will fulfil all the law and the prophets – in other words, the entirety of Scripture.

The big trick is to find what it looks like – in our day and in our situation – to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.  Look at what those three things represent: the heart is the flesh.  It is literally the flesh that is the centre of human life.  Without the heart’s activity nothing else in the body works.  So it is the central building block of the body – the ultimate necessity of flesh.

The soul references our spirit, that Godly wind that was blown into humanity when God breathed into Adam’s nostrils and made him live.  The spirit is what animates us.  It is what makes us living creatures.  And finally, the mind.

The mind, the intellect, the ability to reason is what separates us from the other life forms on the planet.  While it has been proved that other species have some capacity for reason and problem solving, we are the only one of God’s creatures that has the capacity to consider our own mortality – that is, to think about what will happen after we die.  No other creature has the mind to allow it to do that.  So the mind is what makes us the human creatures we are.

Put that all together and we have a commandment that we love God with everything we have – our flesh, our spirit and our conscious thought.  But it is the mind I want to talk about this morning.

You can choose to be a Godly person by making the choice that would please God in every situation.  When you have a choice between helping someone and ignoring them, help them.  When you have a choice between doing something that benefits only you and doing something that benefits the greater society, choose to benefit your fellow man – and woman.  When you have the choice between keeping all that you have and sharing with others, choose the others.  And when you have the choice between coming to church and doing otherwise, come here.

Surrounding yourself with other Christians, with other people who are struggling on the same journey you are, can not only be a comfort to you, but can bring comfort to others, even when you have no idea that you’ve had an effect on another person.

This week, while I was going to and from the hospital, caring for Kay Moore in her last days and hours, and trying to do what I could for her children, I was trying to be Godly – trying to walk the way I knew God would want me to.  But while all that was going on, I received an email from a friend I worked with almost 25 years ago.  He told me that something I had said to him had had such an impact on him that it had changed the course of his life.  It wasn’t anything Godly that I said to him.  It wasn’t even anything particularly deep.  We were just two night time janitors who talked during our breaks.  But his life was changed in a very fundamental way by something I didn’t recognize as particularly important.

The point of that story is that in small ways and in huge ways, we affect other people’s lives.  If we love the Lord with our whole minds – if we consciously try to make the right choices in every situation – we are much more likely to have the effect on others that Jesus did; to lead them toward the Lord.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.  And you shall love your neighbour as yourself.  This week, try loving the Lord your God with all your mind.  If you set your mind on God, hopefully your heart and soul will follow.  And when they do, loving your neighbour will come naturally.  At every decision point this week, practice loving the Lord with all your mind.  I bet it makes a difference.  And I bet those around you will notice too. Amen.

HYMN 256: WHEN I NEEDED A NEIGHBOUR...WERE YOU THERE – StF

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION: Everlasting God, you made a covenant with our ancestors and pledged their 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.

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 the church here in the in UK and throughout the world.

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 are 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.

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.  We especially pray at this time for our friends and family members in the UK as they enjoy a half-term break from schools and colleges.

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 for those still burdened, those seeking healing, those in need within the church and the world especially in these difficult times with the ongoing Pandemic.

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.

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 please you rather than to seek the praise of the secular world.

Merciful Father: Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

HYMN 503: LOVE DIVINE, ALL LOVES EXCELLING-StF

BLESSINGS: Jesus said, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ As we go from here, help us to love others so that they may see that we belong to You. The Blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit Be upon us and remain with us always.  Amen