Home Service 27th November 2022 – first Sunday in Advent

Opening Prayers

Come, for God is calling.
Listen, for God is speaking.
Give thanks, for God is present in our midst.
Teach us to love without limits, and so be like you, O God.
Give us eyes to see others as you see them.
Give us grace to be your people in the world.
As we gather here today, gather us to yourself.
As we turn our faces to you, bless us.
And as we listen, speak your word to us.


Let us open our hearts before God, seeking compassion.
· for what we have done that we wish we had not done
· for what we have failed to do that we should have done
· for actions that have taken us away from your heart of love
· for the times when we have walked past someone in need
· for being too busy to notice the needs of those closest to us
show us your mercy, O God.

God of compassion, look tenderly on us, your people.
Deal justly with our failings and show us your mercy.
As we come into your presence, shine your light into our lives.
Turn us around and set our hearts on fire with love for you.


Please read Leviticus 19:1-18 and Matthew 5:38-48

We don’t hear enough sermons based on Leviticus!

Actually Leviticus 19 is a stunning, beautiful text best read in parallel with the New Testament reading from Matthew. It looks at the tensions and complements between law and love.

Jesus points out, merely following the letter of the law is not enough. The danger of laws or rules is that they can become ends in themselves–they are followed even when common sense and a good heart would abandon them; they are followed as a substitute for discerning and doing the true good. Many times love calls us to go beyond the law. On occasion, Love may even call us to go against the law.

Still, I wonder whether we “liberal” “progressive” Christians don’t tend to give the law a bit of a short shrift. There are distinct advantages to having a set of

rules to govern our lives. Rules can help us “pre-make” some of our decisions so that we do not allow our feelings to dictate what we do, how we treat people.

Rules–overt or implied–can be a wonderful motivating force when it comes to living out the hard acts of love. And Leviticus presents a beautiful set of very concrete rules with deep implications for creating a just and peaceful society: leave some fruit, some grain, in the fields for the poor; be honest; don’t steal; don’t take advantage of another person’s weakness for your own gain or pleasure.

At my daughter’s school, a list of rules was read to new pupils each year. Each rule began ‘Girls shall not…’ Later, the rules were abolished and students were trusted to act with ‘courtesy and compassion’. In some ways, this was harder because it demanded that individuals take more responsibility for their own actions and requires them to be purposeful and planned in their application of loving others.

A prayer of praise and thanksgiving

Loving, generous God:
· for your glory, seen in all you have made
· for the patterns and power of the universe
· for your love to uphold us and your hand to guide us
· for the glimpses of glory that challenge and change us
· for your presence with us in joy and in pain
we give thanks and praise.


Closing Prayer

We must go to feed the hungry and stand beside the broken. Lord, keep us from just singing; move us into action. Stepping forward, we go out: accompany us, good Lord. Fill us with power to live lives that show your generous love in the world. Amen.

Suggested Listening

Love God, Love Your Neighbour (Dale Sechrest) www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzaYC6eyKqI Love one another (Newsboys) www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAFMGRMhFsM Let Us Build a House – (www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9bOiAxwi4U

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