• Greeting and Announcements – Rev. Val
  • Call to Worship, and Opening Prayer – All
  • Opening Hymn – Ye Watchers, and Ye Holy Ones (UMH 90)
  • Responsive Reading – Psalm 24:1-6 (UMH 755)
  • Gloria Patri (UMH 70)
  • Pastoral Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Scripture Readings – Revelation 21:1-6a (NRSV), Hebrews 9:11-14 (CEB), Mark 10:46-52 (NRSV) – Rev. Val
  • Hymn – I Sing a Song of the Saints of God (UMH 712)
  • Message: For All the Saints & All the Souls – Rev. Val
  • Offertory – Rev. Val
  • Doxology (UMH 95)
  • Closing Hymn – Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee (UMH 89)
  • Benediction – Rev. Val


Good morning! For those who’ve worshiped with us before either in-person or online, welcome back. For those who are joining us for the first time this morning, we’re glad you here. Welcome home!

A few quick announcements:

  1. I need to meet with all of you briefly after service today. There are a couple of business items we need to address.
  2. Effective this week, our weekly Bible study will be starting at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m. Effective November 28, Thomas Talks will move to and merge with Java with Abba which meets on Monday nights at 7:00 p.m. Please note that these groups are both virtual and meet on Zoom.
  3. This is your weekly reminder to sign up for our weekly worship bulletin email. There are connection card forms on our Facebook page and on our website that make it easy. The bulletin will keep you up to date on each week’s worship plus upcoming activities and events.

Save the date!

  • November 7 – Communion Sunday
  • November 20 – Remembrance Candlelight Vigil
    • 6 PM in front of Campus Ministry Building
      Maryville College
  • November 28 – First Sunday of Advent (Hope)
    • 3 p.m. – Charge Conference (Maryville First UMC)
  • December 5 – Second Sunday of Advent (Love)
    • Joint Service with Maryville College Pride Club
    • Communion Sunday
  • December 12 – Third Sunday of Advent (Joy)
  • December 19 – Fourth Sunday of Advent (Peace)
  • *December 21 – Finding Comfort*
  • *December 24 – Finding the Light*
  • December 26 – First Sunday After Christmas
  • *December 31 – Watchnight Service*
  • January 2 – Second Sunday After Christmas
    • Communion Sunday
  • January 9 – Epiphany Sunday/Baptism of the Lord*Online only worship.  Videos will be available on our Facebook Page & website beginning at 6 p.m. Dec. 21 and 24, and at 11:25 p.m. Dec. 31.
Call to Worship
Based on Mark 12:28-34; Safiyah Fosua, Africana Worship Book for Year B, Valerie Bridgeman Davis and Safiyah Fosua, eds., (Discipleship Resources, 2007), 73

L: We are people of God, created to love

P: We will love the Lord our God with heart, soul, mind, and strength.

L: We are people of God, determined to love.

P: We will love our neighbors and treat them as we would be treated.

L: We love neither from a sense of obligation nor to gain popularity of favor.

P: We choose to love both the lovely and the unlovable because love imitates God’s nature.

All: For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”

L:  Come, let us worship God, as we pray together saying …

Opening Prayer
UMH 712

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord.

Grant us grace so to follow your holy saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys, which you have prepared for those who sincerely love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.



UMH 755



A combination of prayers written by B. David Hostetter, Prayers for the Seasons on God’s People: Worship Aids for the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B (Abingdon, 1999), 203-204, Ruth Duck, Flames of the Spirit, Ruth C. Duck ed., (Pilgrim Press, 1985), 55, and Rev. Iain Macdonald. Posted on the Church of Scotland’s Starters for Sunday website. http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/ Reposted: https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2012/10/prayers-of-people-we-will-love.html

Timeless God, we thank you for all those before us who have kept the faith to the end. We thank you for brave souls of deathless fame, and also for those whose names are remembered only by you. Give us wisdom to understand your will, and courage to live as your people in this day; through the grace of Jesus Christ.

Good and great God, we come to you through Jesus Christ who intercedes for us sinners. We confess our sins, seeking forgiveness not only that we may be at peace with you, but also that we may pray for others. We are ashamed that our prayers are often as self-centered as our lives. Excuse our disordered priorities as we seek to change and reorder our lives according to the teaching and spirit of Jesus Christ you Son, our Lord.

Our prayer today is for all who are victims of cruel laws and petty laws,
those who’re subjected to prejudice denied opportunities, excluded, pushed to margins.
The Lord our God is one:
We will love with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength.

Our prayer today is for all those who’re betrayed, who don’t know loyalty, who fear to trust, or to love, and who don’t realize that they’re already loved by you.
The Lord our God is one:
We will love with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength.

Our prayer today is for the landless and homeless, the refugee and evicted, those who find themselves in foreign places and strange places.
The Lord our God is one:
We will love with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength.

Our prayer today is for the overworked and the underpaid, for those in dangerous work and those in compassionate work, for those who long to work but are denied the opportunity.
The Lord our God is one:
We will love with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength.

Our prayer today is for the Church, for all the branches of the vine
including this one we gather as part of, today:
body of Christ, people of Christ,
for whom the Lord our God is one:
We will love with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength.

Our prayer today is for the creation gifts, this earth in all its mighty wonder, yet tender fragility, the gifts of life and resources to treasure.
The Lord our God is one:
We will love with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength.

Our prayer today is for those who lie close to our hearts those whom we worry about, those whom we miss, those who carry disproportionate burdens at this time …

The Lord our God is one:
We will love with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength.

God we lift up to you our ongoing prayers and petitions …

  • For the eradication of COVID-19 in every form and an end to the pandemic
  • For protection of all innocents in Afghanistan, in all other war torn nations, and in all nations under authoritarian regimes, especially the women and girls of those nations.
  • For Haiti, for the coasts stricken by storms, for the states in the west stricken by drought and wildfires, and for all those first responders who are battling the effects of extreme weather caused by climate change
  • For the healing of the planet.
  • For the protection and preservation of democracy here and around the world
  • For an end to discrimination and oppression in any and all forms

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

May your love take root in our lives, and we may walk by faith as we pray the words your Son taught us,

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.


Draw us close, Holy Spirit, as the Scriptures are read and the Word is proclaimed. Let the word of faith be on our lips and in our hearts, and let all other words slip away. May there be one voice we hear today — the voice of truth and grace.


Revelation 21:1-6a (NRSV)

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”

And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

Hebrews 9:11-14 (CEB)

But Christ has appeared as the high priest of the good things that have happened. He passed through the greater and more perfect meeting tent, which isn’t made by human hands (that is, it’s not a part of this world). 12 He entered the holy of holies once for all by his own blood, not by the blood of goats or calves, securing our deliverance for all time. 13 If the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkled ashes of cows made spiritually contaminated people holy and clean, 14 how much more will the blood of Jesus wash our consciences clean from dead works in order to serve the living God? He offered himself to God through the eternal Spirit as a sacrifice without any flaw.

Mark 10:46-52 (NRSV)

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?”

Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘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 neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ –this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.

The scriptures of God for the People of God.

Thanks be to God.

MESSAGE – For All the Saints and All the Sinners

Includes quotes from Not Far from the Kingdom, Dr. Rev. Derek C. Weber, Discipleship Ministries

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. Amen.

Today we celebrate All Saints and All Souls, two days when we remember those who have gone before us, who have made the journey or who have taken the next step. We remember those whose lives shaped us … the way we think, the way we live, the way we determine right and wrong, the way we believe.

As Derek Weber writes, “We remember them because they are still a part of us, shaping us, mentoring us – maybe not in a direct way, but in a real way. We are who we are, in part, because of who they were. So, we give thanks for those who have gone before, whether immediately or historically. And through them, we remember that there are companions with us still. All Saints Day is a perfect opportunity to say thank you to those who are still with us, who still light our way, and direct our paths. And with them, we remember that we are all on our way toward the kin-dom of God.”

It’s unusual for a church to celebrate All Hallows Eve. Many churches refuse to even acknowledge it, holding “Harvest” or “Fall” festivals instead.  I think they miss the mark, though.  The Celtic Christians considered All Hallows Eve a thin place, a place where this world and the next one moved closer together, so close you could almost go from one to the other with just a small step.

Even this moment right here at Union Grove, we sit in a church so full of those who’ve gone before us.

The ones who raced to these grounds with wagon loads of materials to win the land and build this sanctuary where we sit. The 140 years of pastors and preachers and lay leaders that once stood where I now stand telling the stories of the Prophets and Apostles, sharing the same Good News that we share today. Pastors and preachers like Pleasant Henry, James Rubel, David Hodson, Rev. Rippitoe, Rev. Bales, Rev. Isaac N. Munsey, Rev. A.M. Rose, Rev. Echols, Rev. John Sanders, G.C. Kirby, Rev. J.T. Bird, Francis P. Sanders, J.T. Caldwell, W.L. Roberts, Francis P. Sanders, C.F. Lucas, Perry Rule, G.L. Shupe, O.B. White, Russell Leedy, Robert Fritts, Jack Jones, Ross Francisco, Sam Varnell, W.R. Grimm, Charles Bryan, Max Allison, John Williams, William Phelps, Talmage Skinner, Joe Payne, Horace Henry, Lawrence Clark, Harry W. Hight, Jr., Frank Knavely, Tom Markwood, John Roberson, Rose Mincey, Herman Cate, Stanford “Stan” Johnson and Beecher Dunsmore.

With us today are the families that came here to hear all those messages … 7,280 Sundays worth of messages, to attend 7,000 weeks of Sunday school classes and Bible study groups. Families like the family of Lydia Williams, an original owner of the land, the Walkers, Lovedays, Baldwins, Joneses, Hendersons, Lanes, Curtises, Clarks, Alfords, Stooksburys, Oldhams, Pierces, Chesneys, Hodges, Jacksons, Frenches, Stinnetts, and so many, many more.

And with us today are our own ancestors, even those who never sat in these pews. Many indigenous cultures believe if we’re living right, doing what’s right, standing for what’s right, that our ancestors are there with us, watching us and guiding us, standing there behind us, giving us strength. Close your eyes again and listen to your memories, and you’ll hear the things they said to you, taught you, even when you thought you weren’t listening or paying attention … little things that influence how you treat others. Our ancestors and loved ones who’ve gone on … grandparents and parents, brothers and sisters, husbands, wives are here for and with us.

And especially with us is the presence of God, Creator of all, of Jesus his Son and our Lord, of the Holy Spirit our advocate and helper, and of the heavenly host … present here with us. God who we worship, Jesus who we follow, and the Spirit who leads and guides us as we grow in our faith and work together to build the kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.

I think their presence is what makes this church so special, so different from other churches … why we are truly standing on Holy Ground. And so, today, we take time to celebrate and remember all those who’ve gone ahead of us.

While we celebrate those saints and souls that have found their way to a heavenly home, it is not their destination that has shaped us or made us who we are as much as it is the journeys they took in the getting there, for it was from their journeys that they learned, and it is those lessons they passed on to us, stories handed down from the very beginning of creation to now, sometimes in metaphor, sometimes historically, but all with the purpose of helping to shape us, direct us, transform us into His disciples.

We know the journeys of the Apostles and those before them. They’re written throughout the New Testament. We can even read about the journeys of other church leaders throughout history … men and women alike who spent their lives serving and loving the Lord despite adversity, persecution, and poverty. All of them faced and felt the struggles of their time just as we face and feel the struggles of today.

Martin Luther ministered at a time when the Church had taken to selling forgiveness to those who could afford it and had continued the practice of delivering mass in Latin that only those wealthy enough to be educated could understand. Martin Luther stood up to them and called them out. He was driven from the Church and into hiding for a time, but it was his persistence that helped bring about the Reformation, a movement that gave birth to Protestantism and made the Good News available to all regardless of economic status or station

One might say the Methodist Church was born from struggle.  When the Church of England recalled all its priests back to England after the Colonies declared their independence, Wesley who had preached in the fields and to the miners in England, blessed the formation of the Methodist Episcopal Church here on our Continent rather than leave the people called Methodist without a church home.

When this church was formed, this nation was divided over slavery. Even the Methodists were divided, including those within the body of the church here at Union Grove. In the end, though, Union Grove members found unity and stood for what was right, forming as a Methodist Episcopal North.

During Jesus time among us, the people of Israel were struggling heavily under Roman rule and taxation, and when the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians were struggling with one another.

Struggles, especially internal struggles, often make for odd bedfellows, though. The bitter rivalry of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians was set aside as they worked together to try to entrap a new common enemy … that man from Galilee that was stirring up the people and undermining their religious authority.

You might be wondering how we got from remembering those who came before us to talking about struggles. Dr. Weber explains it like this:

“It’s because of a phrase that Jesus uses in our gospel passage for this week. It is a phrase of such hope and promise that it catches our breath. And yet is could almost pass you by if you aren’t paying attention.

It’s a familiar passage in a familiar setting. And so clearly significant, it is like a bright red flashing light that draws our attention to the center message. It is a message that we have to grasp, a message we have to wrestle with and claim as our own. It is a message that we have to figure out how to live in our day-to-day existence. “The greatest commandment,” right from Jesus’ own lips. How can we debate the meaning and value of such words?

And isn’t it interesting that it comes in the midst of an argument, a struggle? Or rather, a tag team wrestling match or a tug-of-war of Olympic proportions. It was a collusion of bitter rivals who banded together against a new common enemy. Normally, the Pharisees and the Herodians wouldn’t give each other the time of day, wouldn’t hand out a Band-Aid® to cover a bullet wound. And yet, there they are in the beginning of Mark Chapter 12, palling around together in an attempt to trip up Jesus with their rapier-like logic. Only it doesn’t work. Jesus out-logics the logicians. And when they are left hanging on the ropes, panting for breath, who should show up but the Sadducees. Now, both the Pharisees and the Herodians would rather belly surf in a pigsty than ask for help from the Sadducees; but in their desperation, they reach out to tag them in, only to watch them driven to their knees in humiliation by the surprisingly unmarked Jesus.

All of that happens in the first part of Chapter 12. That’s the scene that elicits the passage we are looking at today: a UFC cage match gone horribly wrong. During a commercial break, when the main contestants are catching their breath and stitching up the gaping wounds, this guy sidles up to Jesus and asks his question. Now, this guy is a scribe, Mark says. Under normal circumstances, a scribe is presented as a bad guy, a letter of the law guy, a stickler for the “whereases” and “heretofores” of the fine print buried in the back pages of incomprehensible legal documents. Mark tells us this with a sly grin and a “who’d-a-thunk-it” shrug of the shoulders.

“Which commandment is first of all?” (Mark 12:28.) And being a scribe, he knew in intimate detail just how “all” all could be! There has been a debate over the centuries concerning whether this was just round four in this melee and the scribe was trying to trip Jesus up just as the previous combatants had tried to do. But Mark doesn’t think so, and neither do I. There is something different about this approach. Mark describes it by saying the scribe was impressed by Jesus. “He argues like a scribe,” he must have thought to himself. Many would have seen that as an insult, but for a scribe, it was the highest of compliments.

No, it appears to be an honest question, a sincere search for answers. And that is how Jesus responds. “Hear O Israel,” Jesus reverts to the shema, a traditional liturgy that every Jewish child learned almost as soon as he or she could talk. “The Lord our God, the Lord is One” (12:29). These are the words that are written on a scrap of paper and placed in the mezuzah, that little box attached to the doorframe of every Jewish home. As people would go in and come out, they would touch that box and recite the words, remembering who they were and whose they were. Of course, he would use those words. What else? Then follow them up with the proscription to love God and love neighbor. Jesus presented them both as though they were inseparable, two sides of the same coin.

There are some variations of wording between Mark’s account and the Old Testament. Mark has four dimensions of this love – heart and soul, mind and strength; the Deuteronomy text has only three – heart and soul and might. But we can understand the shift by remembering that Mark wants to make sure that Gentiles understand the totality of this commitment. To the Jew, the heart was the seat of both emotion or feeling and intellect. Greeks tended to divide the human emotion from the rational mind, so Mark makes sure we hear both heart and mind.

But for the most part, it is the same. Jesus reaches back and grabs a foundational statement and offers it up as answer to the plea. And the scribe grins and claps his hands, not in appreciation of the scholar who passed the test, but in the joy of knowing that what was in his heart is truth. When Jesus sees this joy in agreement, he tosses out the phrase that transforms this whole event from a back-alley brawl to a glimpse into eternity. “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (12:34). Wow. No wonder no one could ask any more questions; they were stunned by the fleeting image of glory.

What we wouldn’t give for a statement like that from Jesus. “You are not far off,” Jesus tells us that is why he came, to seek those who are far off and bring them near. We want to be near; we want to know that we are close to the kingdom, close to the hope, close to the model for living that we are called to live – more than that, close to model for living that we long to live.

Mark tells us here that to get close, we have to live full out. We don’t hold back; we don’t keep a little in reserve. With all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength. That’s the only thing Jesus wants from us – everything.

Today, we may celebrate those who have given their all and thus are examples for us to follow. We give thanks to the saints of God, not because they are perfect people, but because in their living, in their struggles and successes, we can find a way to make the going good and the “gettin’ there” a joy.

Today, on this eve of All Holies, All Saints and All Souls … when all the saints and souls that have gone before us, all the seraphim and cherubim, all the heavenly host are all around us … if we close our eyes and allow ourselves to be very still … we can feel them, all of them, maybe even hear them as they join their voices with ours in prayers and in songs of praise … like some great heavenly choir. We can feel the movement of the Spirit, the warm hand and embrace of Jesus, and the very breath of God.

Today, we remember, and give thanks for them, for their journeys, and for the lessons they gave us that guide us on journeys of our own.


Please join me in a prayer for our gifts this morning:

Extravagantly Generous God, there is nothing we have, there is nothing we require, there is nothing we long for that does not pale when placed beside the relationship you’ve offered to us. As we bring our gifts to you, remind us of the covenant you put before Israel: “If they will be my people I will be their God.” Receive what we give in gratitude for your invitation, and help us be your people, reflected in our love for you and for all your children. We pray this in the name of Jesus, the Christ, who gave all there was to give for us.



Benediction by the Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston

Thank you for being here this morning, whether in-person or through our live-stream and I hope you found some value in today’s service.

Now hear this benediction:

“Your song will not end. The kindness you have shown. The wisdom you have shared. The love you have given. None of that will end. It will go on and on, passed like an heirloom of faith from person to person, not only of your own family, but between the countless others you have known, cared for, worked with, prayed for and respected. You have made music with your life. You have made a witness. The harmony you have embodied and the hope you have embraced will sing on after you, sing on into generations yet to come. Your vision will live in many hearts until one joyous day it joins the chorus of life that began when Spirit first started to sing.”

Go in the name of Christ, in the love of God and in the power of the Spirit. Go forth to love and serve the Lord. Go in peace.



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Union Grove UMC
1151 Lane Drive
Friendsville, TN 37737

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