Sunday 31st October 2021


How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!

We pray together…

We thank you, Lord, wherever your people meet, in church or elsewhere, there you are to be found. We turn to you now. Bless this time of worship and help us to learn, be comforted and to worship you, in Spirit and in truth, Amen.

Reading: Mark 12: 28-34

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’

‘Well said, teacher,’ the man replied. ‘You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.’

When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.


On the face of it, there is not much to be got out of the reading this time. Love God – yes; and love your neighbour – yes, as long as we remember who our neighbour is. We all know the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Our neighbour is the one we come across who is in need. Not necessarily a person who thinks, looks and behaves like us, but anyone in need.  And not only people who are close to us physically, geographically, but all those in need. We love them by praying for them, giving to charities, volunteering, giving to or helping with the food bank, in all sorts of ways. For some it means volunteering to work abroad. But all that is to miss the most challenging part of the story that loving God and our neighbour is ‘more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.’

Well, we obviously don’t go in for that sort of thing – making offerings and sacrifices as they did in the Jerusalem Temple many years ago. That’s all in the past.  But Jesus, in commending his questioner for what he had added in his wise reply, said to him: ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’

But paraphrase ‘making burnt offerings and sacrifices ’, into the equivalent today, which could perhaps be: ‘more important than formal religion’. Could that mean more important than what we do in church on Sunday morning, or sitting at home and following Worship at Home? Yes, emphatically yes.

So, rather than doing the formal religious thing, shouldn’t we be elsewhere doing something that shows that we love God and our neighbour?  

There is a story, probably not true, but a good story none the less. A person went to a Quaker meeting for the first time, not knowing that they spend much of the time in silent worship. He was puzzled by the long silence as the worshippers simply sat there silently. After a half hour, he could bear it no longer so turned and whispered to the person sitting on the next chair, ‘When does the service begin?’ The neighbour whispered back, ‘The service begins when the worship ends.’

The story is probably not true, but it makes the point!                

Our hymn this time is Singing the Faith 249: ‘Jesu, Jesu…’

Jesu, Jesu,
fill us with your love,
show us how to serve
the neighbours we have from you.

Kneels at the feet of his friends,
silently washes their feet,
Master who acts as a slave to them:

Jesu, Jesu, …

Neighbours are wealthy and poor,
varied in colour and race,
neighbours are near and far away:

Jesu, Jesu, …

These are the ones we should serve
these are the ones we should love
All these are neighbours to us and you:

Jesu, Jesu, …

Loving puts us on our knees,

willing to wash others feet,
this is the way we should live like you.

Jesu, Jesu, …

We come to our Prayers of Thanks and Intercession.

Thank you, Lord for our church building, for the heritage it represents, and the precious memories it contains. Some of us may not have seen it yet, but others of us know how striking and beautiful it is after the refurbishment. We thank you for the skill of architect and of stonemasons, and for who all have contributed financially or otherwise to it. Thank you, Lord

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Let us never forget, Lord, that our building is not simply to be admired, but has a purpose: to be a place where we and others can be nurtured in the faith and where people can come to build a loving community of  the young, the middle-aged and the elderly. Help us now to move on to stage two of the Community Links Project, and may we find new ways to serve our own church community and the surrounding community.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, we think of the troubled places of the world, so many of them. Raise up people there to be peace makers and builders of a new society.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, we remember migrants and refugees. We think of Afghans who have fled their country and arrived in our land. May they find a welcome and somewhere to settle.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, we remember the crisis facing the world with climate change: droughts, floods, wild fires, rising temperatures and sea levels. We think of the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, just about to begin. We pray for wisdom for them as they seek solutions, and we pray for ourselves, that we may have the will to contribute in our own way to mitigating the effects of climate change.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, we know that you hear our prayers, and we thank you for that. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

A Blessing.

May the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus

Make you perfect in all goodness, so that you may do God’s will,

And may God create in us what is pleasing to him,

through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

                                                                                                                                    Revd Tony Coates

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