Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost: Week of October 31, 2021
Begin your devotion time by praying this prayer: Dear God, your love is revealed to us when we are in community with others. Open our hearts to fully love you, and give us the grace to love others. Amen.
Reflect on the Way of Love together: This week’s
practice on the
Way of Love is WORSHIP. In the reading from Mark, we are
reminded of the two great commandments: to love God and love others. How do we
show love for God through worship? How does showing love for others inform our
Adult and Small Child
Read: Mark 12:28-34
Reflect: A commandment is a law or a rule that God wants us to follow. The scribe asked Jesus what the most important rule was. He probably thought that this would be a difficult question to answer. But Jesus didn’t have any trouble answering. Right away he said, love God and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.
Whenever we’re not sure how to help or what the best thing to do, we can remember that Jesus said we should love God and love each other. That’s more important than anything else.
That seems easy, but often it’s not. Have you ever been unsure about what to do when you or someone you know is angry or sad or unhappy? Even when we’re unsure about how to help, we can remember these commandments: Love God and love your neighbor. Even though we still might not always be sure what to do, if we do our best to love each other all the time, we’ll be following Jesus.
Respond: What are some rules in your house? Draw pictures of the rules or have an adult help you write some of them down. Now circle the most important rules. Is loving each other one of the rules? If not, make a sign to remind your family that loving each other is more important than anything else. Put your sign on a door or wall as a reminder.
- Jeremiah Sierra
Adult and Elementary
Read: Mark 12:28-34
Reflect: Why do we go to church? Is it so we can see our friends, or put on that cute new outfit? While we might enjoy the fellowship, or having somewhere to go, the reason we go to church is much deeper. We go to church to worship God and to practice loving God and loving each other.
Every week, we do things to remind us to put God first – we confess our sins and say we’re sorry. We sing music to praise God. We hear Bible stories which tell us about how God has journeyed with God’s people through time. We hear stories of other people who have tried to live faithfully. All of these things should be helping us to remember to put God first and show our faith through love!
Do you have a favorite part of church? What is it? How do you remember to put God first all the time, and not just when you go to church?
Respond: Find the materials you need for this activity: a jar, one bigger rock, and smaller rocks or marbles. Imagine the jar is your heart. Begin to name things you love, and put the marbles in the jar. One by one, the jar will fill up. Now try to fit the big rock in – does it fit? This big rock symbolizes God. Empty the marbles out of the jar and try it the other way - if God goes in first, all the smaller marbles should fit around it. This is why it’s important to love God first, so there’s enough room!
- Jazzy Bostock
Adult and Youth
Read: Mark 12:28-34
Reflect: This past pandemic year has really changed worship for most of us. It’s been sad for some to lose familiar ways of being church (and in some cases, to lose loved ones from our worshipping communities.) On the other hand, it’s been a year to try new ways of worship and some people have found that exciting. How have you felt about worship this year? There has been Zoom church and YouTube sermons and Facebook Compline, and there have also been prayers together at home. My household has been having Basement Church, and we’ve loved being able to break for questions and ideas, right in the middle of Morning Prayer or Antecommunion (Sunday Eucharist without the Eucharist.) As liturgical Christians, we create all sorts of beautiful and meaningful ways to come before God together. They are precious to us, but we remember, too, that loving God and neighbor is “much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Every time you love your neighbor, you’re faithfully keeping God’s commandment. When you notice and delight in love and beauty and justice, you might be worshipping the God who provides those things.
Respond: St. John of Damascus said, “the whole earth is a living icon of the face of God.” When you walk with your family and notice beautiful or funny things in nature, you worshipping our Creator. When you support and defend others, you worshipping the God whose image is in all people. There are wild, free-range times of worship throughout all of our days. The joy and peace and comfort of God is flowing in every day. Make a wonderful collage to show the wide variety of invitations to worship in the world around you!
- Di McCullough
Adult and Adults
Read: Mark 12:28-34
Reflect: I love my fur babies. I love ice cream. I love spending time outside during the summer. I love chocolate. During an average day, we find ourselves saying we love (fill in the blank here.) Yet this is not the kind of love that Jesus is speaking of in this text. Jesus is talking about agape love. Agape love is the highest form of love. It is the love that God had for God’s Son and has for all of God’s children. It is this kind of love that we are called to share with each other, especially those that we find hard to love. It is the greatest commandment given to us. We are to love God and we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. I think we often fail at this, though. We aren’t good at loving ourselves, therefore, we are not good at loving our neighbors. But God wants us to love ourselves fully and then we are to share that love fully with our neighbors.
Respond: Worship! Pick up a local newspaper and look through the headlines. Cut out all those headlines that call us to love and care for our neighbors. Write prayer petitions for each of those headline stories. Do not forget to read through the obituaries, too. In addition, make a list of ways you can help love your neighbors. For example, if there was a fire, you could collect food, clothes, or other items and donate them to the family who lost their home to fire. Together, pray those prayer petitions as part of worship. Ask your pastor if you can include them in the prayers of the church for the next week or so.
- Tara Ulrich