OT 31 — (PE+ 22)

October 31, 2021

Lectionary Texts

In Ruth 1. 1-18 Elimelech and Naomi leave Israel because of a famine, and live in Moab, where their sons grow up and marry. Elimelech dies, as do both of the sons. Naomi returns to Israel, and says goodbye to her daughters in law, Orpah and Ruth. Orpah stays in Moab, but Ruth says, “No, I will go wherever you go. I will become one of ‘your’ people.”

Psalm 146: trust in God, not in worldly power. God cares for the poor and powerless, and lifts up those who are bowed down.

Hebrews 9. 11-14 compares Jesus’ death to the sacrifice of animals in the Old Testament: his blood signifies that we are made pure.

Of the hundreds of questions Jesus was asked, he answered all but three indirectly, with parables or another question. But in Mark 12.28-34 he answers directly: what is the most important commandment? To love God. And it has a twin: to love your neighbor.

Call to Worship

Leader: Creator God, you are the Love that gives us life.
      All: You shower us with love, and we worship you.
Loving Christ, you give us the love with which we love God.
      You fill us with love, and we thank you.
Holy Spirit, you are the Love with which we love others.
      You fill us with love, and we serve you with joy. Alleluia!

Leader: Creator God, how you love us!
      All: Alleluia! We praise you.
Loving Christ, how you forgive us and heal us!
      Alleluia! We thank you.

Holy Spirit, how you fill us with love for God and our neighbor!
      Alleluia! God of Love, we worship you.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

God of love, you who create us in love and call us to love: we earnestly desire to love you with our whole hearts, our whole souls, our whole minds, and all our strength. Help us to love you and to love our neighbor, not by our own will but by your grace, your infinite love in us. We pray in the name of our Teacher, our Beloved, Jesus. Amen.

Leader: God says, “Beloved, I give you my love!”
      All: How can we trust such good news?
Jesus says, “As God has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. “
      How can we receive such love?
We do not know how to pray, but the Spirit intercedes for us.
      Spirit of Love, enter our hearts, transform our lives,
      and fill us with you light,
      that we may truly love as we have been loved.,
      in the name and the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

The grace of God is with you.
      And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us come honestly before God.
We recall those times when we have been most in harmony with God’s love,
and we give thanks. {Silent prayer]
We recall those times when we have been most out of harmony with God’s love,
and we open our hearts to God’s mercy. [Silent prayer….]
By the grace we know in Christ Jesus, God forgives us entirely,
redeems us and sets us free to live by the power of the Spirit of love,
in the name of Christ.
      Thanks be to God.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

We believe in God, who is Love, whose love is unconditional, perfect, absolute and eternal.

We follow Jesus, the Beloved of God, who embodied God’s love. In love he taught the curious, fed the hungry and healed the broken. In love he suffered our evil, and was crucified. And in love God raised him from the dead. Christ lives among us still in the eternal power of love.

We live by the power of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of love, the love of God flowing through us for the world. In that love we seek a world of justice and mercy; and we live lives of forgiveness, gratitude and courage. The Spirit of Love gives us life that is eternal, which is our power, and our hope and our joy.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

Gracious God, your Word is a word of love.
We seek not merely to understand your words,
but to receive your love.
Speak to us now, that your Word may take root in our hearts,
and fill us with love for you and for our neighbors,
by the grace of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view songs on the Music page.)

At Your Feet [Original song]

Jesus, at your feet I bow.
I am yours completely now.
By your mercy show me how
to be loving.

Jesus, Master, you who save,
you have served me as a slave.
This, the perfect gift you gave:
to be loving.

In each hurting one I meet
it is you, O Christ, I greet.
Make my faithfulness complete,
to be loving.

Eternal Life [Original song]

This is how we will know eternal life:
we will love one another.
I lay down my life, all that is mine alone,
that we may be raised together.

We are not bound by any earthy thing
when our lives we surrender to God
whose love is eternal life,
and so we will love one another.

God of all Gentleness [Tune: Be Thou My Vision]

God of all gentleness, God of pure love,
you do not watch us from heights far above,
you are no tyrant, but patient and mild,
present with grace in the poor, in the child.

God of all mercy, may we be the ones
bearing your love to your daughters and sons,
not out of pity but humbly, with grace,
for in the poor we see your human face.

God of all justice, give us hearts to care,
hope to free prisoners of fear and despair,
courage to challenge the ways that oppress,
deep love to reach out to heal and to bless.

God of compassion, your Spirit now pour
into us all, for it’s we who are poor,
hungry for justice, for healing and grace,
and for full life for the whole human race.

Love-sowing God [Tune: “Gift of Love” – The River Is Wide]

Love-sowing God, sow love in me.
Sow seeds of grace abundantly.
My soul be soil where love may root
and grow and bear your precious fruit.

Where habit’s feet and wheels have tracked,
my anxious work the soil has packed,
soften my soul with bliss or pain,
so love may enter in again.

My angry thorns, my selfish weeds,
God, clear away, and sow your seeds.
Despite the hungry, wanting bird,
Love, plant in me your living Word.

Love-sowing God, your labors done,
help me to trust the rain and sun,
receive your grace and faithfully
bear forth your love that grows in me.

Love Will Bear Us Over [ Tune: Holy Manna]

When our world is changing ‘round us and we long for good old days,
what that lasts will bear us over to new earth, new heaven, new ways?
Love will lead us when the path is unfamiliar, come what may:
set our heart to love our neighbors and our feet will find the way.

Christ gives us a new commandment: “Share the love that you’ve been given.”
When we do we’re resurrected, entering new earth and heaven.
When we love our neighbor more than caring for what used to be,
then our love will bear us over, then our love will set us free.

Open My Heart [ Tune: Open My Eyes]

Open my eyes that I may see everyone ‘round me lovingly,
shedding my labels, habits and fear, see with a heart that’s true and clear.
Patiently, God, may I behold each blessed life as it unfolds.
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine.

Open my ears and let me hear unspoken stories, unshed tears.
Help me to hear with love shining through stories that no one’s listened to.
Tenderly, God, help me to hold what is within each person’s soul.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine.

Open my heart and grant me love, mercy for those I’m heedless of.
Help me to know each person I face as one you bless with gentle grace
Lovingly, God, please make me more mindful of those whom we ignore.
Open my heart, illumine me, spirit divine.

Set Me Free (to Love) [Original song]

From all that binds me, Love, set me free.
From all that binds me, Love, set me free.
Set me free, Love, set me free.
Oh Love, set me free to love.

From what I fear, O Love set me free….
From what I cling to, Love, set me free…
To live in perfect love, set me free….

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