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The Greatest Commandment

For the 20th Sunday after Pentecost or Proper 25

(Lectionary 30) From “Saving the Ants”

Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud

Scripture Reference: Matt. 22:34 – 40 “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the other commandments are based on these two…”

Preparation (Optional): Bring heart-shaped stickers to distribute at the end of the message.

Some of you probably know many of the commandments listed in the Bible. Can anyone tell me one of them? (Let children respond.) The Ten Commandments are:

1. I am God. You should not have any other gods that are more important than me.

2. You shouldn’t worship anything or anyone other than the true God.

3. Respect God’s name; it is special. Don’t use it as a curse.

4. Remember the day of worship and keep it holy.

5. Respect and honor your father and your mother.

6. Don’t kill anyone.

7. Husbands and wives, keep your  special love only for each other.

8. Don’t steal from anyone.

9. Don’t tell lies about your neighbor.

10. Don’t be jealous. Don’t want for yourself anything that belongs to your neighbor.

(Paraphrase by author.)

There are other commandments found in the Bible as well. Which one do you think is the greatest, most important commandment? (Let children respond.)

This is a question that the Pharisees used to test Jesus. The Pharisees were a group of people who went to church a lot, but they were not very loving. They asked, “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the other commandments are based on these two. . . .” (Matt. 22:36-40 NLT).

I want everyone to put up your ten fingers. Those stand for the Ten Commandments. Now turn your palms so that they’re facing you and cross your hands on your chest. That is the symbol for love. All of the Ten Commandments are based on loving God and loving others. If we really do love God, we will naturally obey all Ten Commandments. The commandments are based on love and respect.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for your set of rules based on loving you and others. Help us to keep all of your commandments out of love for you.

 

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