Worship at Home for Sunday, October 31, 2021

Dear Friends,

This fall the sermons have been focusing on people from the Old Testament. We began with Esther then spent most of October in Job. This Sunday and the next will be focused on Ruth.

If you need anything, please call me at the church office (437-2779) or my cellphone (573-832-2475). If you would like to have a copy These Days mailed to you or home communion, let me know.

 

Announcements:

  • Sunday School after worship today.
  • Dorcas on Monday at 7pm
  • Bell Choir on Wednesday at 4:15pm & Choir Practice at 6:30
  • Turkey Supper will be on Saturday, November 20.
    Volunteers will be needed. Details to come.
  • Totenfest will be on Sunday, November 21 during the 9am worship.
  •  

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

 

Scripture Lessons: Ruth:1-18, Psalm 146; Hebrews 9:11-14; Mark 12:28-34

 

Sermon:

In Mark 12:28-34 Jesus and a scribe discuss the greatest commandments of all. Jesus answers with the Shema from Deuteronomy 6:4-5, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” Then Jesus adds a second commandment from Leviticus 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” These in combination sum up the meaning and purpose of all the commandments. The scribe agrees with Jesus and claims that these are more important than any offering that a person might give. The questions for ordinary people like us might be:

  • How does living in the love of God look in real life?
  • How do we live in the love for one another?

The book of Ruth tells a story that gives us some ideas what these ideals look like in the lives of ordinary people. Ordinary people who are doing the best that they can when life presents them with hardships and difficult decisions.

Ruth is widowed Moabite woman who chooses out of love to return to Bethlehem with her widowed mother-in-law Naomi. Naomi (like Job) has experienced hardship and pain in her life. Unlike Job there is no indication that she was ever a rich person. Like Job her sons have died. Before that her husband had died. Now there is a famine in the land of Moab where Naomi and her late husband Elimelech had immigrated with their sons when there was a famine in Judah. Completely bereft Naomi decides to return to her hometown of Bethlehem.
 

Have you ever felt bereft? Filled with grief and feeling all alone in this world. Every person has or will feel this way at some point in their lives. That sense that everyone whom I ever loved is gone. What did you do? Did you become angry and bitter? Did you long to go someplace where you might find someone who knew you? Did you long for a home where you would be loved?
 

Naomi is feeling all these things. So, she decides to return to Bethlehem alone. She hugs her daughters-in-law goodbye and sends them back to their families. But Ruth will not leave. Instead, Ruth offers up words of love to Naomi who believed herself to be devoid of love.

“Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
Where you die, I will die—there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!” (Ruth 1:16-17)

After hearing these words of love, Naomi was quiet.
 

How would you feel, if someone spoke words like this to you when you thought that you were completely alone in this world? Would you cry with hope restored? Would you silently take the hand of the one who spoke these words? Ruth is living out the commandments of love. Naomi who thought she was alone in life has a daughter to travel home with her. These two women may have lost everything, but they have each other.
 

The world has been changing around us. Church is not what it used to be. So many of the people we counted on to be in the pews, lead the church and organize events have passed on from this world. Many are in mourning for what was. Even when we feel bereft, we must remember that we still have each other. The ones who show up each week to worship. The ones who gather to do the work of the church. The ones who worship online. The ones who share the Sunday School lessons with their families. We are still here to love God. We are still here to show God’s love to our neighbors.
 

Together we give to Neighbors in Need, the CROP Walk, Operation Christmas, the Helping Hands Outreach Center and more. Members of the community who feel hopeless are given hope by the assistance offered through the Ministerial Alliance which receives donations from St. Peter’s. The Upper Room Store gives clothing to those who need it. Together we love our neighbors by sharing our gifts with them and through our prayers.
 

When you are tempted to feel bitter and bereft like Naomi, remember that there is someone who loves you and is rooting for you. You just may not be aware of that person. Naomi was trying to push Ruth away, but Ruth would not go. Sometimes it feels like the world may be pushing the church away, but we are still here in the love of God. We are not going away. We are willing to walk together on that road home to Bethlehem.

 

Prayer

God you are our one true God, may we love you with our whole hearts and may we love our neighbors too. When we feel alone, keep us from pushing away your love and those who love us. When we are destitute, may we find hope in the one who is willing to journey with us on our road home. Amen.

 

Prayer list:

All who have been on our list in the past and Bev, Elizabeth, Beverly and Cheryl, Ty who has recovered from Covid, Kaye’s family, Jean, Jim, Peggy.
Joy! Marcie is on a list for a guide dog.

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