On Sunday October 29th I led worship at Hampsthwaite Chapel. We began worship when we sang, ‘Immortal, invisible, God only wise’ a hymn which acknowledges the otherness of God, before I led the opening prayers. We read Psalm 90 responsively, before I gave a short talk about loving your neighbour as yourself. We sang ‘O God our help in ages past’ before we heard the reading from Thessalonians 2.1-8 and had a dramatised reading based on Matthew 22.34-46. We sang ‘My God how wonderful thou art’, before I preached.
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus which commandment he regarded as the greatest to test him. Jesus said that the greatest commandment was that you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. We are to love God totally with a love which guides our thoughts and actions in our whole life. The second commandment Jesus regarded as important was to love your neighbour as yourself. Do we love ourselves? That is something I always found difficult but I realise that God loves us so much he was willing to give us his son to draw us back to himself. As God loves me so much I want to return that love to him with all my heart, soul and mind. I also want to share that unconditional love with those in need; especially the vulnerable and weak as Jesus did. Jesus challenged the Pharisees to say what role they expected the Messiah to have. Jesus told them that the Messiah could not be David’s son as was expected; after all David had been referring to someone he referred to as Lord. In other words the Messiah was not going to be an earthly conqueror as King David was; instead he would be the Son of God, whose sacrificial love would lead to his being prepared to die, even on a cross. In that way he would reveal the extent of God’s love for them and us.
Paul replied to accusations based on scandalous rumours that he had been at fault for the trouble at Philippi, explaining that it was the message of the good news that he preached which led to the problems. He just had to share the message, but they supported themselves so as not to be a burden to them. Both Paul and the Psalmist recognised the shortness of human life, yet filled with suffering. That did not stop them from proclaiming God’s message and having compassion on the vulnerable marginalised outcasts and trying to meet their needs. Paul felt the large number of laws stifled the love of God. Like Jesus he recognised the two greatest commandments to love God with your whole heart, mind and strength and to love your neighbour as yourself. May we be daily filled with your Holy Spirit, so that we are strengthened to share your love and do your will this day and always.
We sang ‘Teach me, my God and King’ before I led the prayers of intercession.