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Oct 28

23rd Sunday after Pentecost [Ordinary 31B] (Year B)

Ruth 1:1-18
  • Ruth is a fascinating figure.  She is determined and forward-thinking – qualities that every Christian should strive to have.
  • Naomi is a pretty interesting figure, too.  She is compassionate and brave – again, qualities that we all should strive to have.  Curious why I say that Naomi is brave?  She urges her daughters-in-law to go home, which would have meant (if they had both left her) that she (Naomi) would have needed to make her journey alone.
  • Speaking of brave… let’s not forget that Orpah was also a brave figure.  She actually does make her journey alone (since Ruth refuses to leave Naomi).  One could also argue, perhaps, that Orpah is a practical figure – knowing herself well enough to make the decision to leave the two people she knows (Naomi and Ruth) and branch out on her own.  Maybe she was a feminist — who knows…
  • Ruth is devoted to Naomi.  To whom (or, to what) are we devoted?
  • This is a wonderful passage to present as a dramatic reading.
  • You could decorate your worship space with suitcases and other travel-related items (since the women in this text are on a journey).
Psalm 146
  • I’ve mentioned this before, but it is worth repeating: if you are going to read a Psalm about singing praises to God, you may as well sing praises to God.  Many hymnals include musical settings for the Psalms.  And, you can certainly use this as an opportunity to invite the congregation to sing their favorite hymns and songs of praise.
  • As those of us in the USA will be going to the polls to vote only 2 days after this Sunday, this is a fantastic passage to ponder.  Where do we place our trust?  Is it with the politicians – or is it with the Almighty?  Who is it that executes justice, sets prisoners free, opens the eyes of the blind, and watches over strangers?  The Lord.
  • Remember: no matter who is elected (or not elected), Jesus Christ is – and forever shall be – Lord of All.
Hebrews 9:11-14
  • As we continue to explore the Christ-as-High-Priest theme, it may be helpful to read this text in other translations.  I suggest reading from The Message, the Contemporary English Version, and/or the Easy-to-Read Version.
  • Again, you may want to decorate your worship space with items related to the High Priest.
  • Since the passage is focused on the sacrifice that Christ made for us, it is fully appropriate to have a cross at the front and center of your worship space, too.
Mark 12:28-34
  • It is not wise to try to trick the Son of God.  It was a big no-no to name one commandment as being more important than any of the others.  So, Jesus avoids the trap by giving his summary of the law: Love God & Love Neighbor.
  • You may want to pair this with a different reading.  Some traditions suggest that we read Deuteronomy 6:1-9 on this particular Sunday, which would be an excellent choice.
  • Cut out lots of paper hearts (in lots of different colors), and distribute them to the congregation.  Invite them to write the many ways that they live-out their love of both God and Neighbor.  Then, collect the hearts and string them together, making a chain that you can use to decorate your worship space (or other location in your church building).

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