The Reverend Elizabeth Bowyer
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Anticipating scripture, we begin with a sung adaptation of verses 105-112 of Psalm 119, a psalm of trust in being guided by God’s life giving word.

MV 108 (based on Psalm 119: 105-112)

Our first reading this morning introduces us to a story about personal loss and vulnerability, famine, dislocation, death, and ultimately, of new life. 

It’s also a story about faithful commitment in the midst of hardship. 

This morning we hear just the opening verses of the story. 

Reading from the Book of Ruth, chapter 1, verses 1-5, Naomi and Her Family

In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons. 

The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. 

They went into the country of Moab and remained there. 

But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. 

They took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. 

When they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

There is so much more to this story than we have time for this morning, so do crack open your bible and check it out more fully!  

For our purposes this morning, however, we rest in the sure knowledge that despite their loss and vulnerability, God will faithfully guide Ruth, Naomi, and Orpah as their life journey unfolds.

Like the three women, our work as faithful followers in God’s way is to but ask for and trust in htat same faithful guidance.

Anthem:  Prayer for Guidance (Psalm 25)

Our good news this morning comes to us from the gospel according to the author of Mark.

Reading from Chapter 12, verses 28-34 we hear again the unmistakable call to respond to the needs of our neighbours.

Mark 12: 28-34 The First Commandment

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 

Jesus answered: “The first is, ‘Hear, O  Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall 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 , ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and beside him there is no other’; and to ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all  the strength,’ and ‘to one’s neighbour as oneself,’-his is more important than all the whole 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.”  After that no one dared to ask him any question.

Write these words upon our hearts, O God.  And we will praise you.

Our responsive hymn, found at VU 750 is based on Psalm 24, a psalm of praise for God’s overarching love for all of God’s creatures and all of creation.