Loving God, Loving Your Neighbor

Theme: Jesus names the greatest commandments. Proper 26 (31) Yr B 23rd Sunday after Pentecost
Object: Two large construction paper hearts, one saying "Love God" and the other "Love Your Neighbor"
Scripture: “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31 (NIV)

One day Jesus was in the temple teaching the people who were gathered there. A group of religious leaders began asking him tricky questions to try to embarrass him so that the people would not listen to his teaching. One of the men asked Jesus, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment?" Which one do you think Jesus said was the most important?

(Hold up the heart that says, "Love God.") Jesus answered him, "The most important is this,'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,' this is the greatest commandment.

How do you think we might show our love to God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. (Allow time for them to suggest some ways.) Those are all great suggestions. Here are some ways that I thought we might show our love to God. Worship, prayer, Bible study, singing praises, bringing our offerings, and giving thanks for all his blessings.

Do you know what Jesus said next? (Hold up the heart that says, "Love Your Neighbor.") He said, "The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Well, how do you think we could love our neighbor? (Allow time for responses.) Good ideas! Here are some things you might not have thought of. We could treat them like we want to be treated, be kind to them, forgive them when they hurt our feelings, be helpful in times of trouble, be their friends.

These are the commandments that Jesus thought were the most important. It isn't easy to keep those commandments, is it? We need God's help each and every day. Let's pray and ask him to help us to love as he has commanded us.

Dear Father, help us to love you with all of our heart and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

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