Psalms:131, 132, 134, 135
Old Testament: 2 Sam 19:1-23
New Testament: Acts 24:1-23
Gospel: Mark 12:28-34
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a treatise on the Hail Mary by Bishop Baldwin of Canterbury

Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall 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, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:30-31)

Say it with me…..all together now 😉

Lord have mercy upon us, and write both these thy laws in our hearts we beseech thee.

Unlike some of my contemporaries, I was first introduced to the Anglican Church using ye olde Book of Common Prayer

For those who don’t know…the Shema (“Hear O Israel”) and the response I quoted above serves as one of the opening prayers of the Eucharistic liturgy.

What I find interesting is that this prayer frames the whole point of the worship that follows.

Everything from the readings, the General Confession, General Intercession, the Offertory Prayer, the Prayer of Humble Access, and sharing in the Sacred Meal itself….. all of these acts are meant not only to serve as a reminder of God’s promises….but to literally change us and to inscribe God’s law and love into our own hearts.

Another important thing to remember is that God would never ask us to do something that he Himself would avoid.

As we bear witness to the priests words and manual acts over the gifts.. we are reminded about how God Himself, the Word made Flesh lived out the two greatest commandments… withholding nothing so that the whole world might be saved….. and that all would come to know the infinite love the Trinity has for all creation.

It is no coincidence that after sharing in the Body and Blood, the BCP then offers a second responsory prayer:

And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee. And although we are unworthy, yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service, not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

Just as we respond to the prayer of the Shema asking God to move us and shape us, we respond to the Eucharist–the Sacred time in which we are not far from God–with an earnest plea that our new hearts and cleansed bodies can be used for God’s glory….that we too, like our Father will withhold nothing in proclaiming the gospel to all nations and to reconcile everyone we meet to the LORD.

May we always be strengthened by word and Sacrament to bear the image of Christ everywhere we go….and to live out the commandments. +

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