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Sermon and Liturgy for Ordinary 30 - Proper 25 - Year A
I Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46
"The Law and The Prophets"


READING:  I Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46
SERMON :  "The Law and The Prophets"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-or30sx 100100
                  
   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
   for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
   found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
   SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.
   
   Sources:  The summary of the law and the prophets is based on one
   from "The Union Prayer Book "The Gates of Prayer", p 678-679"
   Copyright 1975.  With a number of changes the children's time is
   based on Charles Kirkpatrick, (www.Sermons4Kids.com) "Message for
   Ordinary 30, Year A", as sent to the PRCL List, October 2005.

   
GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP (based on Psalm 18)
L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer.
P  My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  
   He is my fortress, my shield, and the horn of my salvation.
L  I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, 
   and I am saved from my enemies.
P  From his temple God hears my voice; 
   my cry comes before the Lord and he answers me.
L  Therefore I will praise God among the nations.
   I will sing praises to the name of the Lord.
P  I will honour God for keeping me safe,
   and declare to all people that God is good.


* PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Let us pray: Gracious Creator and Redeemer - we thank for this day of your
grace, for this Sabbath in which we celebrate your love and remember the
victory won for us by Jesus Christ your Son, our Saviour.  Bless us, we
pray, with your presence this day in this sanctuary.  Feed us with your
word and with the praise of your Name.  Help us commit ourselves anew to
you and to the work of your Kingdom and draw us closer to one another by
the power of your Holy Spirit so that your will may be done both here and
to the ends of the earth .  We ask these things in the name of Jesus, Amen.


* HYMN:  "Praise To The Lord"                                      - VU 835


CHILDREN'S TIME   "All You Need Is Love"
Object:   A song book with some love songs.
Theme:    Love God -- Love Others
Source:   With a number of changes, this is based on Charles Kirkpatrick,
          (www.Sermons4Kids.com) "Message for Ordinary 30, Year A", as
          sent to the PRCL List, October 2005. 

   Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus
   replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
   your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest
   commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as
   yourself.'" Matthew 22:36-39 (NIV)

I don't know for sure, but I think that there have probably been more songs
written about love than about anything else in the world. Here is a list of
some of my favorites: "Love Makes the World Go Round," "Love and Marriage,"
and "When I Fall in Love," and oh, I almost forgot one of my favorites!
Barney's "I Love You" song. You know that one, don't you? (Sing it, if you
can. It is sung to the tune of "This Old Man.")

   I love you, You love me
   We are one big family    
   With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you
   Won't you say you love me too     (Lyrics by Lee Bernstein BMI)

Well, I guess that shows how up to date I am!  Barney was long ago replaced
by SpongeBob SquarePants.  In fact, SpongeBob is probably out of date by
now, but I know one thing that never goes out of style, and that is love. 
As much as ever, "What the World Needs Now Is Love."

One day a lawyer asked Jesus, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment?" 

Do you remember how many commandments God gave to Moses?   Ten????   Well
that is the number of commandments that were carved on the stone tablets. 
But there were actually 613 commandments given to the people of Israel in
all   248 positive commandments and 365 negative commandments.  That is a
lot of commandments to keep track of isn't it!!!

When the lawyer asked Jesus, "Teacher which is the greatest commandment?"
there were a lot to chose from.   The lawyer was testing Jesus to see if he
knew the correct answer.  And he did.  Jesus answered him like other great
teachers of the faith had always done.  He said: "Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, this is
the greatest commandment."  And then he added,   "And the second is like
it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'"  Why do you think Jesus said that
these were the greatest commandments?  It is because Jesus knew that if we
could keep these two commandments, we would not have any trouble keeping
the others.

If we love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind and love
our neighbor as we love ourselves, we won't have any trouble keeping all
the other commandments - and most specially we will not have a problem with
the big 10 - the ones that include things like "Do not steal," or "Do not
murder" or "do not covet or desire the things you neighbour has".

Let's pray and ask God to help us to love as we ought.


PRAYER AND LORD'S PRAYER
   Dear Father - help us to love you -  with all of our heart, mind,
   soul, and strength - and to love our neighbours - as we love
   ourselves. Amen.

And in the words of Jesus who taught us to pray together as one family...

   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 trespasses, as we forgive
   those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but
   deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, the power and the
   glory, for ever and ever.  Amen


SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS: ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SPECIAL MATTERS
- Welcome and Announcements     
- Birthdays and Anniversaries     
- Special Matters      
- Sharing Joys and Concerns


TIME OF SILENCE & AN INTROIT FOR THE WORD    (verse 2 - VU 371)
                
  Open my ears that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear
  and while the wave notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear.
  Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God they will to see.
  Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!


A READING FROM I THESSALONIANS 2:1-8
   (NIV)   You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was
   not a failure.  We had previously suffered and been insulted in
   Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell
   you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.  For the appeal we
   make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying
   to trick you.  On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to
   be entrusted with the gospel.  We are not trying to please men but
   God, who tests our hearts.  You know we never used flattery, nor did
   we put on a mask to cover up greed - God is our witness.  We were
   not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.  As
   apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were
   gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.  We
   loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only
   the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so
   dear to us.

L  This is the Word of The Lord
P  Thanks be to God.


RESPONSIVE READING:  Psalm 91  (VU 807 - with sung refrain) 


A READING FROM MATTHEW 22:34-46
   (NIV)  Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees
   got together.  One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with
   this question:  "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the
   Law?" 

   Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with
   all your soul and with all your mind.'   This is the first and
   greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your
   neighbour as yourself.'  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these
   two commandments." 

   While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, "What
   do you think about the Christ?  Whose son is he?" 

   "The son of David," they replied. 

   He said to them, "How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit,
   calls him 'Lord'?  For he says, 'The Lord said to my Lord:  "Sit at
   my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet."  If then
   David calls him 'Lord', how can he be his son?" 

   No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared
   to ask him any more questions.

L  This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


* HYMN:  "I Am The Light of The World"                              - VU 87


SERMON:  "The Law and The Prophets" 

       Note that the sermon mentions a time with the children that
       was spent acting out the parable of the workers in the
       vineyard.  Another suitable illustration could be placed in
       that portion of the sermon.

   O Lord, we pray, speak in the calming of our minds and in the
   longings of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in the thoughts
   that we form.  Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen.  Amen.

The Gospel reading today began with these words:

   Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got
   together.  One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this
   question:  "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 

You have heard the answer that Jesus gave.
   'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
   and with all your mind.'   This is the first and greatest
   commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as
   yourself.'  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two
   commandments."   (Deu 6:5& Lev 19:18)

Jesus - in giving this answer - and in adding the words "All the law and
the prophets hang on these two commandments" passed the test the Pharisees
put to him.

Indeed the rabbis - the pharisees - in fact the Prophets themselves -
taught that the 613 commandments of the Law could be summarized in various
ways.

"What does the Lord require of you?" inquired the Prophet Micah.  And then
he answered with just three commands:  

   "Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

The Prophet Isaiah based the commandments on just two of them. He wrote:  

   This is what the Lord says:  "Maintain justice and do what is right,
   for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be
   revealed."  (Isaiah 56:1)

Amos saw one guiding principle upon with all the commandments are founded, 
He wrote: 

   "This is what the LORD says to the house of Israel: "Seek me and
   live" (Amos 5:4)

The Prophet Habbakuk, too, expounded the Torah on the basis of a single
thought: 

   "The righteous shall live by their faith."  (Habbakuk 2:4)

The great teacher Akiba, virtually a contemporary of Jesus, said this when
asked the same question that Jesus was asked:

   - The greatest principle of the Torah is expressed in the command:
   "You shall love your neighbour as yourself."   (Leviticus 19:18)

And Hillel, also from the first century of our era summed up the Torah in
this maxim: 

   "What is hateful to you,  do not do to others.  The rest is
   commentary: you must go and study it."

Finally, the teacher Ben Azzai found a principle even more fundamental in
the words: 

   "This is the story of humanity: when God created us, God made us in
   His likeness."

The essentials of what we teach today - the core of what we preach - and
what we urge you to accept and practice as you respond to the Good News of
Jesus Christ are all found in these summaries of what the law and the
prophets are about.

We are called to love God, in whose image we are made 
   - with all our heart, soul, mind and strength
and to love our neighbours, who are made in the image of God just as are we 
   - as ourselves, as if they were us.

The Apostle John in his First Letter to the Churches in Asia sets forth the
linkage between the greatest commandment - and the second that is like it -
in this fashion.

First he says:   "Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them" (I
                 John 4:7)

And then he says:    "We love because he first loved us." and "If anyone says,
                     'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For
                     anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen,
                     cannot love God, whom he has not seen.'  And he has given
                     us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his
                     brother.  (I John 4:19-21)

So - what is this love like - this love that all who follow Christ are
called to have,
   this love that is meant to grow in us as a fruit of the Spirit of God
   working in our lives,
       this love that is meant to be expressed in our lives as a result of
       our faith in Him,
          this love that is meant to flow from as a result of our
          accepting God's love - God's forgiveness - God's will in our
          lives.

Well today we have had the children speak to us in the words of Jesus -
showing us God's love for all people who serve in his vineyard - 
showing us that God provides for everyone who comes to him - no matter how
late in the day, all that they need for that day.

We saw in the parable that they acted out that God is generous with his
love and care and acts without regard to how mortals might judge who is
worthy and who is not.

We sang about how God seeks out the sheep that have gone astray,
how God values and treasures each person whom he has made
and wants them to be safe with him.

And in the last act they presented we were reminded that the cool thing
the in thing - is not necessarily the proper thing - the right thing - the
sensible thing..

A good reminder.

I thought for the remainder of our time together today I might share with
you some thoughts about what love is like according to various children -
most of whom range from the age of 4 to the age of 8.  Some  of you have
seen these or heard these before - but for all of us they are good
reminders about the practical  meaning of what it is to love as the
prophets and the law command  - and as Jesus himself has shown us to love
in his life and in his death.

   "When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and 
   paint her toenails anymore.  So my grandfather does it for her all
   the time, even when his hands got arthritis too.  That's love." 
   (Rebecca - age 8)

   "When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. 
   You know that your name is safe in their mouth."   (Billy - age 4)

   "Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your
   French fries without making them give you any of theirs."  (Chrissy
   - age 6)

   "Love is what makes you smile when you're tired."  (Terri - age 4)

   "Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a 
   sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK."   (Danny
   - age 7)

   "Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop
   opening presents and listen."  (Bobby - age 5)

   "If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend
   whom you hate." (Nikka - age 6)

   "Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it
   every day."  (Noelle - age 7)

   "Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still
   friends even after they know each other so well."  (Tommy - age 6)

   "Love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken."  (Elaine
   - age 5)

   "Love is when mommy sees daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he 
   is handsomer than Robert Redford."  (Chris - age 8)

   "Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him 
   alone all day." (Mary Ann - age 4)

   "Love is when mommy sees daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think
   it's gross."  (Mark - age 6)

And one last one

   "You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it.  But if 
   you mean it, you should say it a lot.  People forget."  (Jessica -
   age 8)

Indeed people forget.

Our job as ones who are made in God's image
Our calling as ones who have been chosen by God to be part of his family
Our duty and our privilege as ones who are followers of Jesus
is to remind others of what love is like.

By word and by action.  By doing what Jesus did and believing what Jesus
believed.

Jesus loved God - and he loved the world that God made.  All of it.

And so he came among us as a servant rather than as a master,
- As one who forgives and heals rather than as one who judges and destroys,
- As one who made himself poor so that others might be made rich,
- As one who was obedient to God - even when obedience meant he would
suffer and die.
- As one who trusted that God would judge rightly and reward those who
lived by faith.

You know that God first loved us.  
That God is with you even now to fulfil all his promises.

Our response should be to walk humbly with him - and to do justice and love
mercy, trusting in his great mercy by which we are born anew to a living
hope.

Remind one another of what all the law and the prophets are about.
Remind one another of what love is like.
Love one another as Christ loves you.

Blessed be the name of God, day by day.  Amen.


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE (Singing #400 at the start and the end of prayer
time)

       Lord, listen to your children praying,
       Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
       Lord, listen to your children praying,
       send us love, send us power, send us grace!

L  Merciful Jesus, you said that: 
   'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.'
P  For when our hearts have been focussed on the vanities of this life 
   and we have loved you less than we love the things of this world, 
   forgive us Lord.
   ............ (silent confession) ............
L  You said as well, Gracious One, that 'You shall love the Lord your God
   with all your soul.'
P  For when we have pursed a selfish happiness 
   instead of seeking to please you 
   by diligently heeding your commandments and your laws,
   forgive us Lord.
   ............ (silent confession) ............
L  You said, as well, O Christ, that 'You shall love the Lord your God
   with all your mind and all your strength.'
P  For when we have concentrated on our burdens and worries 
   and have failed to seek your wisdom 
   and to turn to you for your strength and support,
   forgive us Lord.
   ............ (silent confession) ............
L  You have said as well, O God, that 
   'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.'
P  For when we have failed to love our brothers and sisters; 
   particularly when we have neglected the poor and the strangers among us
   and for when we have treated others as less than ourselves, 
   forgive us Lord.
   ............ (silent confession) ............
L  Lord God, Christ Jesus, Holy Spirit, we thank you for your mercy and
   your love.  You make new all who turn to you.
p  We bless you and thank you for your faithfulness to your people 
   and for your care for the world.
L  Today we pray not only that we might be a people who love as you have
   shown us how to love. We pray as well for the people and the nations
   around us, that they may know you and your healing and saving power in
   their lives and render you thanks and praise.  We hold before you, O
   God, and ask your blessing upon each person and each situation that you
   bring now to our hearts and to our lips and our ears....
         
       (Prayers and intercessions for persons and situations as they
       may be offered aloud and/or in the silence of our hearts)
             
L  Lord, hear our prayer.
P  And in your love answer.

L  Holy and Compassionate God:  We thank you for hearing us,  and for
   answering us.  Give us eyes to see you in our midst, ears to hear your
   words of challenge and of encouragement, hearts to welcome you, and
   hands and feet to serve you and walk humbly with you, trusting in your
   great mercy and power as it has been shown to us in and through Christ
   Jesus your Son and our Lord, our brother, and our friend.  Amen.


* DEPARTING HYMN:  "Take My Life and Let It Be"                    - VU 506


* COMMISSIONING (Unison): In the power of the Holy Spirit we now go forth
   into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body of
   Christ.
 
 
* BENEDICTION AND THREEFOLD AMEN
Go in peace,
- and may the glory of God's goodness be revealed to you.
- may the grace and peace and love of Jesus Christ take root in you.
- and may the inspiration of the Holy Spirit fill you with joy and bring
forth wondrous fruit
both now and forevermore.


* CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                              - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2005
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.


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