Sunday, 31 October

restored Schnell painting

Our 10 o’clock Eucharist will be live-streamed to You Tube. The stream will begin at 9:45 with a welcome and musical prelude, and the service begins at 10 am. You can also take part in the service at a later time!

The order of service is available here.

This Sunday is the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost. We’ll hear the beginning of the story of Ruth, and her commitment to her mother-in-law Naomi (Ruth 1.1-18); we’ll also hear of a positive encounter between Jesus and a scribe, reminding us of the foundational pillars of our faith (Mark 12.28-34).

The Sundays and Seasons resource offers this brief reflection on the readings:

Jesus states the core of God’s law: love God with all you are and have, and love your neighbour as yourself. The scribe agrees that Jesus has rightly identified the most important commandments, much more important than sacrifices. It’s easy for us to say with the writer of the letter to the Hebrews that sacrifices aren’t needed anymore, but harder to acknowledge that all our worship, all our community service, all our social action, all our family caregiving is worthless if it is done without love.

You might wonder why the church is festooned in red this Sunday–something we normally only see during Holy Week, or on the feast of Pentecost! Red is the colour of the Spirit, and we use it today on October 31st in honour of the movement of the Spirit in the Church.

It was on this day in 1517 that the Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, is said to have posted his 95 Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg and shared with Albert, then Archbishop of Mainz. Luther was inviting a conversation about the need for the Church to reflect on its customs and way of being, and to focus on the free gift of grace through God in Christ. Luther’s theses provoked conversation, challenge, and conflict–leading to what we now term the Reformation.

Bishop Mark Dyer used a great image to describe this and other periods of upheaval in the Church: that they’re “giant rummage sales” where the church rids itself of what is no longer needed and rediscovers treasures it had forgotten. The Anglican Church thinks of itself as both Catholic and Reformed, treasuring our complex heritage and striving to be always at work in the act of ongoing reformation. We want to be open to the movement of the Spirit as God calls us to focus on the love of God and neighbour and how we live that together. Or, as Sundays and Seasons puts it:

Rooted in the past and growing into the future, the church must always be reformed in order to live out the love of Christ in an ever-changing world. We celebrate the good news of God’s grace, that Jesus Christ sets us free every day to do this life-transforming work. Trusting in the freedom given to us in baptism, we pray for the church, that Christians will unite more fully in worship and mission.