With all your heart, soul and might — Family faith formation for October 31, 2021


Invite various persons to bring a designated item and use this liturgy as a way to begin your time of learning together.

One:    Come, let us gather around and see how the Spirit will nurture our faith today.

All:      Who is with us?  

One:    Christ, the light of the world.

(Place a candle on a table in your gathering place and light it.)

All:      Who is with us?

One:   The Love of God, who came to meet us in the world.

(Place a cross on a table in your gathering place)

All:      Who is with us?

One:    The Wisdom of God, who speaks through the scriptures  

(Place an open Bible on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?

One:    The Grace of God, who proclaims we are children of God

(Place a symbol of baptism – a bowl of water, a seashell – on a table in your gathering space.)

All:      Who is with us?

One:    Our risen Lord, who meets us at the Table.

(Place a symbol of Communion – a plate and cup, a loaf of bread and grapes – on a table in your gathering space.)

One:    We are here, Holy Spirit, ready for your leading.   

God sightings and prayer offerings

Invite each person to share where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something a person, community, experience, event, etc. for which they want to offer prayer.

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world … [Invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier.] We bring our prayers to you, prayers for … [Invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier.]. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

Connecting with Scripture — Deuteronomy 6:1-6

Read the scripture aloud the first time using the New Revised Standard Version or the Common English Bible.

For the second reading of today’s text, divide into two groups and read verses 6-9 antiphonally.

Connecting through Story

Watch and listen to the Bible Project’s video on Shema:

  • Why do you think our Jewish siblings pray these words twice a day?
  • What do you think is the most important part of this Scripture and why?

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue

  • What is the covenant referred to which this text refers?
  • Why are God’s people are to keep this covenant?
  • Why is this passage given priority in the Jewish faith?
  • Why is it important for our Christian faith as well?
  • Why do you think we are commanded to teach this to our children?
  • What is the significance of writing these on the doorpost of our homes?
  • Why would the text says we to “fix them on our forehead?” (When you are trying hard to concentrate, have you ever pressed your fingers to your forehead? Same concept.)
  • What do you think it means to love God with our hearts? Our souls? Our might?
  • How do you think these three work together?
  • In Hebrew, the heart and mind are interrelated. How do you think the two are connected?
  • How does putting heart, soul and might together strengthen this commandment?
  • In what ways do you love God with heart and mind?
  • In what ways do you love God with all that makes you human?
  • In what ways do you love God with all that you have?
  • The word Shema means to hear and to act, how do you hear the commandment to love God with everything you are and everything you have and how do you live out (or into) that commandment?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion

  • Much of Deuteronomy is a reprisal of the previous three biblical books in sermon form. God’s people are finally on the cusp of entering the Promised Land after years of wandering and generations are passed and come into being. Deuteronomy is a reminder of who God is, who they are and serves as a primer for how they are to live as God’s freed people.
  • The opening verses of Deuteronomy 6 highlight the significance of teaching the faith from generation to generation. We are to teach the faith, and what it means to be faithful to our children. One of the gifts of teaching is that we in turn learn and reinforce our own understanding of the text. These verses intrinsically link the command to love God with teaching and learning as an act of faithfulness.
  • This text, especially verses 4-9, is considered by many to be the summary of all the commandments. The first and most important expression of faithfulness is loving God with our whole being.
  • In Hebrew, “heart” is often considered to be the place from which thought or reason comes. “Soul” is synonymous with the wholeness of a human being and “might” mean all of our resources and abilities. So, the command to love God with our heart, soul and might means to love God with everything we are and everything we have … all of which are gifts from God in the first place.
  • Even Jesus responds to the challenge of naming the greatest commandment with this text, “You shall love the Lord your God …” and then adds the Leviticus command to love neighbor as its extension. In so doing, Jesus brings this primacy of this Scripture into what will become the Christian faith. Thus, as Christians, even millennia later, this commandment is as important to us as it was and is to the Jewish tradition. We are commanded to love God with our heart, soul and might.
  • The commandment expressed in this text is to be held close within our hearts. It is not an external or distanced law but one that is woven into who we are and how we live. The references to foreheads and doorposts is also to place them and keep them in our dwelling places — our minds and our homes. When our Jewish siblings pray the Shema they cover their eyes or place three fingers on their forehead over the eyes as a sign of concentration or binding them into their memory.
  • Just as listening/hearing requires action, so love requires action. If we love God with everything that is in us, we will show that love in all of our lives — in our homes, when we go out into the world, in whatever we are doing and in every place we find ourselves.

There are two options for engaging in today’s text. One is to try and learn this ancient and sacred prayer in Hebrew with the help of this video. The other option is to learn this song used to teach the Shema to young children. 


Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, your community and the world.

Rebecca Davis is the associate professor of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. A teaching elder and certified educator, she served congregations for over 20 years before moving into academic teaching. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, her passion is child advocacy and ministry.