OT 32 – 25th Sunday after Pentecost

November 10, 2024

Lectionary Texts

Ruth 3. 1-5; 4.13-17 — Ruth goes to the threshing floor… and marries Boaz.

Psalm 127 —Unless God builds the house the builders work in vain.

Hebrews 9. 24-28
— Christ’s sacrifice is once for all, to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself

Mark 12.38- 13.2 —Three scenes: Beware the scribes’ hypocrisy…. The widow’s mite…. Regarding the temple: “This all will be thrown down.”

Preaching Thoughts

       This selection skips most of the story except for the bare basics: Ruth goes to the threshing floor—and marries Boaz! We don’t hear about the deviations and deviousness that gets from A to B. The focus of what we’re left with in the story is pretty much a foreigner becoming the great grandmother of the great King David himself.

       It’s not our effort but God who assures our security. It’s not worldly power but love that makes our lives worthwhile. [See two paraphrases below.]

       As we’ve been seeing, Hebrews sees Christ’s sacrifice in light of the temple sacrifices of animals. Little of this resonates with us, who have no connection with animal sacrifices. But note this: “Christ appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Animal sacrifices were for maintaining our relationship with God, in an ongoing way, as a sinful people. But Jesus’ sacrifice didn’t atone for our sin, it removed it. It was “the end of the age.” Now we don’t need atonement. We’re already atoned, once and for all, permanently. So we can get over the whole anxiety about “being saved” and get down to living loving lives.

Jesus’ critique of the hypocrisy of religious power-holders is no surprise. Note that he’s criticizing them not because he disagrees with them but because they abuse their power and exploit the poor. (The temple system and its taxation was closely tied with Roman occupation, full of abuse, corruption and exploitation.)
       In this context of economic injustice, a widow gives all she has to the temple fund, doing what she can for others, even, probably, knowing how it will be misused. She gives as a spiritual discipline regardless of what others may do with her gift. Despite Jesus’ praise she acts predictably: the poorer people are, the greater portion of their resources they share. The more wealthy people are, though they can clearly afford it more, the less they give. Our wealth tends to reflect our attachment to wealth. The trick is to move beyond congratulating her to emulating her.
       The poor widow sets the bar for us: not just tithing a mere ten percent, but giving “all we have.” She calls into question our flimsy excuses about what we think we can “afford “ to give. His applies to everything, not just money—but don’t skip over the money part. Money is where we are most deeply addicted, most resistant to letting go, most highly practiced in excuses, dodges and denials. Like a drunk, we say, “Oh, I’m not attached to money. I could give it away if I really needed to.” Oh, and, “Besides, you don’t want me to give away so much I become poor and a burden, do you?” Right. Most of us are nowhere near poverty, and certainly nowhere near giving away enough to approach it. Face it. We are addicted to money, and any addict will tell you the only way to stop is to stop. Just let go. Just give it away. Force yourself to trust God, and see what happens.
       Jesus prophesies that the temple—not just the building, but the system that scorns justice— is doomed. This may be Mark’s comment, since he’s probably writing around the time of the fall of the temple; but it might be Jesus’ own condemnation of unjust systems. It’s also a foreshadowing of the crucifixion. Jesus will be “thrown down,” too. If the temple falls, if what you rely on as a religious structure collapses, then what? Where do you turn? In some ways the temple is falling these days, as the church’s historic role in public life in Western culture is waning. What we contend with in the aftermath is what the disciples faced, both after Jesus’ death and after the fall of Jerusalem in the year 70. How do we engage in a living faith no matter what structures come or go?

Call to Worship

Leader: Eternal God, you who are more vast than the universe,
we come with our tiny words of praise,
       All: and you receive them with love and delight.
Loving Jesus, we give to you our small and broken lives,
       and you receive them with love and delight.
Holy Spirit, we bear the gifts you have given us out into the world, each in our own way,
       and you receive them with love and delight.
       We worship you, and give thanks for your grace. Alleluia!

Leader: God of abundance, you provide every need.
       All: We give you thanks.
Generous Love, you shower us with grace.
       We worship you.
Spirit of giving, you move in us.
       We offer you our lives. Alleluia!

Leader: God of love, you are present.
       All: We are present for you.
You give us the gift of Creation,
the gift of life, the gift of your Spirit.
       We come with rejoicing,
       to offer you the gifts you have given us.
You shower us with love.
       We return your love in worship and praise.
       Alleluia! All glory and honor is yours. Alleluia!

Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
       All: Risen Christ, we greet you!
Holy Spirit, we are one body by your grace.
       You alone are holy, and we worship you.
Glory be to you, O God of all Creation.
       Thanks be to you, O Christ, for our salvation.
For all that you have given us, we thank you.
       All that is in our hands and our hearts is yours, and we offer it to you.
Fill us with your Spirit and strengthen us,
that we may live with gratitude, courage and generosity all our days.
       Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

Leader: Generous God, you pour yourself out for us and for the world.
All: We thank you for your generosity.
Jesus, you invited friends and strangers alike to celebrate with you.
We rejoice to celebrate with you.
Bountiful Spirit, you are always with us, even when we are unaware.
Call us forth from the protective shields we build around ourselves
and lead us in service an generosity.
We worship you with our whole lives. Alleluia!

Leader: Generous God, Holy Abundance,
you give us yourself, and we praise you.
All: Living Christ, you give us all of yourself, even your life and death,
and we thank you.

You hold nothing of your mercy back, and we receive it with awe.
You fill the purses of our hearts with the gold of you love;
we are rich beyond measure.
We worship you in awe and gratitude.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

God, a poor widow offered two tiny coins to you. We come to offer ourselves to you. Set us free from judging ourselves or our gifts, and enable us freely to give, in the spirit of Christ. Amen.

Generous God, you give us all of Creation; you give us the gift of life; you give us the gift of your mercy and the mystery of eternal life. In Christ you give yourself to us. Our thanks is but small; yet we open our hearts to you now, that as we hear your Word we may receive the love you give us and our gratitude and generosity may increase. Amen.

Faithful God, in fear we cling to our lives. But your steadfast love saves us and sets us free. So we listen now to hear your Word, to receive your love, to be set free, and to become generous with your love, by the power of your Spirit, in the name of your Christ. Amen.

Eternal God, a poor widow put her copper coins in the treasury, and it has blessed us for generations. Bless us now, that this moment may be for us such an offering: as your scriptures are read and your good news proclaimed, may the gift of your Word, given from your very heart, enrich us; and may we give to you ourselves, poor in spirit but rich in your grace. Amen.

Gracious God, in Christ you have poured out your life for us, withholding nothing. Grant that our hearts may open to receive what you give us, and to release it as well, that we may continue to receive. Bless us with your word, your grace, and your generosity. Amen.

Listening prayer

Generous God,
you give away your whole Word,
all the love you have,
holding nothing back.
Help us receive
as generously as you give.

Prayer of Confession

The grace of God be with you.
       And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
       Gentle God, we thank you for all you have given us,
       and we confess that we have held onto it in fear.
       We have belittled your grace,
       forgotten the needy,
       and cut ourselves off from you and from our sisters and brothers.
       In the name of Christ, who embodies your mercy,
       forgive us for our grasping;
       heal us of our fear;
       and lead us into lives of trust, gratitude and generosity
       for your sake, and the sake of your Realm of mercy and justice. Amen.

God, trusting in your mercy, we confess that at times
we judge the gifts of others,
withhold our own gifts,
or belittle the value of our God-given gifts.
Forgive our clinging,
heal our fear,
and deepen our faith in the generosity of your Spirit,
that we ourselves may be your gift for the world,
in the name and Spirit of Christ. Amen.

Pastor: The grace of God be with you.
Congregation: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
God of love, you are infinitely generous with us.
We confess that we are not always generous with your grace.
There have been times our hearts were open,
when your love was flowing through us freely, and we thank you.
     …silent reflection…
There have been times when we held back,
when our hands or hearts were closed;
we confess, and we welcome your grace and forgiveness.
     …silent reflection…
Dearly beloved, God does not hold back,
but gives all they have in grace and mercy.
You are forgiven entirely, and set free to live by the Spirit of God.
You are forgiven, and set free.
Together, we are stewards of the abundance of God’s love. Amen.


            Psalm 127 – Paraphrase A

Only if God is at the center of your work
       does it achieve anything.
Only if God is your security
      are you truly secure.

You work so hard, up early, up late,
       surviving on the junk food of busyness,
       all for nothing.
Beloved, you can’t earn your worth.
      God gives you the gift of rest.

The love you issue into the world
       is a gift from God to you, and to the world.
The people you have loved—
       there’s your reward.
Happy the one whose life is full of them.
       It’s what puts to rest all your failures.

      Psalm 127 – Paraphrase B

Unless the Holy One builds the house
        the carpenters are hammering illusions.
Unless the Beloved holds the city
         the guards are all asleep.
You get up early and stay up late for nothing,
         chomping down your anxiety bars.

The Beloved blesses you
         in your sleep.

The love you generate
         is God overflowing.
The love with which you surround yourself
         is God’s gift to you.
Like flowers in a bride’s bouquet
         your love makes your life more beautiful.
Happy is the one
         whose arms are full of them.
You will hold your own
         in this busy, warlike world.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

       We trust in God, Creator of all, who gives us every good thing.
       We follow Jesus Christ, the Loving One, who showed us God’s abundant love, and God’s unfolding plan to create the world anew in justice and peace. Jesus gave of his heart and his being, giving even his life. Though he was crucified by our fear and our clinging, yet God raised him from the dead, and he lives among us still, calling us to lives of gracious love.
       We live by the power of the Holy Spirit, who enables us to live lives of justice, forgiveness and generosity, sharing God’s grace with all Creation. The Spirit gives us each gifts that are worthy. We pray that always the Spirit of God’s love may lead us, give us courage, and enable us to be the Body of Christ for the world. Amen.

       We live by the grace of God, who creates all things, who provides all things, who orders all things, and who is creating a new heaven and earth, a realm of mercy and justice.
       We live by the love of Jesus, God’s Christ, who embodied God’s love in teaching and healing, in providing for the hungry and in offering hospitality to the outcast. He was crucified, but though he died alone and rejected, he was raised in power and glory, and is present with us still, to guide and encourage, to bless and to sanctify us and our work for mercy and justice.
       We live by the power of the Holy Spirit, God within and among us, energizing us to give freely, to serve humbly, to act boldly, to trust deeply, and to love gently, for the sake of God’s Reign of mercy and justice. We are One, the Body of Christ, and together with the communion of saints we trust in the power of forgiveness, the reality of resurrection, and the mystery of eternal life. By God’s grace, we devote ourselves to lives of love and courage in the name and spirit of Christ. Amen.

Eucharistic Prayer

[After the introduction, the body of the prayer may be read responsively with the presiding leader(s) and congregation, or by the leader(s) alone.]

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

Blessed are you, O God, Creator of all things,
ruler of the world and all that is to come.
You have created this world, full of abundant beauty.
You have provided for us: food and family, love and leading.
In your grace you have given us Christ,
who carries in his heart your overflowing love.

Your mercy is abundant; your forgiveness unending,
your love for us is endless and infinite.
Therefore with all Creation we sing your praise with one voice.

            [Sanctus, spoken or sung:]
        Holy, holy, holy One, God of power and might,
        heaven and earth are full of your glory.
        Hosanna in the highest.
        Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.
        Hosanna in the highest.
               [or alternate version]

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who overflowed with the generosity of your love.
Trusting in your grace, depending on your providence,
he shared the riches of your blessing with all,
and invited the poor to feast upon your gifts.
He ate with sinners, fed the multitudes,
and led them to find abundance in their midst.
In his trusting and generous spirit,
he gave of all he had, even his life, in love for us.
In the abundant generosity of your grace
your raised him from the dead.
He is for us the living proclamation of your Covenant
to be with us in blessing
abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.

     (The Blessing and Covenant) *

In Christ you have given us blessing that even life cannot contain.
and promised us life that even death cannot diminish.
Therefore in union with Christ’s generosity
we offer ourselves to you,
proclaiming the mystery of our faith:

             [Memorial Acclamation, spoken or sung:]
        Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
        Dying, Christ destroyed our death. Rising, Christ restores our life.
        Christ will come again in glory.
             [or alternative]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Spirit on us, that we may be for the world the Body of Christ.
In this feast teach us to trust in your abundance,
and to share your riches with all who hunger and thirst.
Let us be the coins you spend
for the sake of the healing of the world,
in the name of Christ and the power of your Holy Spirit.

     [Spoken or sung]

* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending / after Communion

[Adapt as needed.]
Gracious God, we thank you for
the mystery that you give yourself to us /
this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.
You are infinitely generous with your love, with the gifs of Creation, and the mystery of life. Fill us with your spirit, that we too may be abundantly, fearlessly generous with all that is in our hearts and in our hands, in the name of Christ, for the sake of the wholeness of the world. Amen.

Gracious God, we seek to live lives of committed generosity. Bless us in our giving, that we might glorify you in all we do. In gratitude for your grace, we give you our lives, symbolized in our gifts. Receive them with love, bless them with grace, and use them according to your will. Send us into the world to give freely, knowing that the storehouse of your grace is inexhaustible. We pray, as we live, in the name and Spirit of Christ. Amen.

Gracious God, we give you these gifts as symbols of our lives. Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will. You who have given us everything, we give ourselves to you, that you may give us to the world. We give of our hearts and our will, our time and attention, our passions and possessions, in your Holy Spirit of generosity, for the sake of the healing of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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

All of the Gifts I Have
[Tune: Fairest Lord Jesus]

All of the gifts I have, all that is within me,
you give to me, O God, with care;
all of my prayers and skills, passions and energies
you grant to me to freely share.

Here are my hopes and dreams, attitudes and deepest loves,
all of the treasure to which I cling.
I will not hold them in, stilling my ardent song,
but serving you I’ll freely sing.

In all I keep or give, may I do my very best
in everything I say and do,
in harmony with you, only to love and bless,
with joy, to serve and honor you.

Giving Heart (Tune: Water is Wide- Gift of Love)

O God of grace, you set us free
and feed us all abundantly,
so help me trust the gifts you give,
with giving heart and hands to live.

Come, Spirit, come, and set me free
from all I cling to fearfully.
Come heal my heart, my fears relieve,
so I may give as I receive.

Your Bread of Life transforms us, Lord,
so we become your living Word.
Our lives no more are ours to hold,
but yours to share with all the world.

The Giving Song [Tune: DOVE OF PEACE (I Come with Joy)]
God, send me out into the world to share all I possess.
My generosity shall be the faith that I confess,
the faith that I confess

For you have given me such gifts, grace infinite and deep,
that I can only share them all. There’s nothing I will keep,
there’s nothing I will keep..

And let my giving change me, Lord, to make me more like you:
to let your blessing flow through me, creating me anew,
creating me anew.

My life will not be known by what I have, but how I share,
courageously, with trust in you, with love and joy and care,
with love and joy and care.

Giving Thanks
[Original Song]

We are a grateful people giving thanks to you.
We are a blessed people singing praise to you.
We are a gifted people spreading love for you.
We are a thankful people spreading love for you.

Grateful Hearts      (Tune: This is My father’s World)

Our life is yours, O God, a gift of love from you.
We pray that we may faithfully serve you in all we do.
O give us grateful hearts, for blessings still unknown,
as stewards of your gracious love, your gifts we do not own.

God, all that we possess—the pow’r for what we do,
our goods, our skill, our kind good will— is all a gift from you.
Since all we have is yours, and bears deep grace from you,
Bless us with care to gladly share your love as you would do.

Harvest of your grace [Original Song; dialogue between soloist & congregation]

God scatters abroad, and gives to the poor, and fills the hungry with good things
      Alleluia! O God,we rejoice in the harvest of your grace.
How blessed the poor, and all those that mourn. “You do to me as to them.”
      Alleluia! We offer our gifts for the harvest of your grace.
Now come to the Feast. Our cups overflow. With grateful hearts we remember.
      Alleluia! We come now to work in the harvest of your grace.
God’s grace will abound, in seed and in bread. In joy then sow as you reap.
      Alleluia! God, gather from us the harvest of your grace.
You will receive, so that you can give, and yield a harvest of good hearts.
      Alleluia! God send us to share the harvest of your grace.

I Belong to You [Tune: Water is Wide / Gift of Love]

Beloved, I belong to you.
You give me birth; you make me new,
your image formed, by Spirit stirred.
You are the Song; I am your Word.

Whatever pains I may endure,
I still belong. Your love is sure.
Since I am yours, your will I do.
I trust and give myself to you.

I am your coin to richly spend,
so spend me, God, as you intend.
You bless my end; you hold my worth;
send me to love throughout the earth.

Beloved, I belong to you.
Do with me what your love will do.
Bear me, and I, through ease or strife
will find in you eternal life.

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