Aug 17, The Canaanite Woman

Title:Aug 17, The Canaanite Woman

  Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014  (full size gallery)

We had a good turnout of 40 for the middle of August. The weather was overcast with intermittant sunshine which became light rain during the service.  We began the advertising for the LYRA concert of Russian music on Sept 16, 7pm

We welcomed Susan Tilt as a guest from Colonial Beach. She is a a fabric artist who has made stolls for Bishop Goff. In fact the one made by Susan was worn this spring when Bishop Goff visited. Tilt attended Goff’s church in Northern Va. when she was a priest. Region One held a joint display of both artists’ work two years of ago at St. Mary’s. 

We had a number of birthdays and anniversaries. Boyd was the only birthday present but he got to stay up front for his 46th anniversary with Barbara. The Everetts were celebrating 56 years.

School supplies are overflowing in our collection in the back. One more week!

The bellows were returned on Friday. Mark Thompson re-installed them and tuned the organ for the Long wedding next Saturday. Brad seemed pleased as he tested the trumpet stop.

This sermon highlighted the Canaanite woman who confronted Jesus when he was on some "R&R" outside of Israel in what is todah Lebanon. The readings are here.

The woman cried to heal her daughter but Jesus seemingly ignored her and then said his mission was to the Jewish people. The sermon asked the question:  "Does God ever hear us crying out in pain and delay giving us help, or downright refuse to give us help—does God ever abandon us when we are in need?"

The sermon used an interview with holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.  He said "God abandoned the Jews and he doesn’t know why.  Ultimately, Wiesel believes the Holocaust happened because people all over the world chose to be indifferent to the plight of the Jewish people and all the others who were being exterminated in the concentration camps."

"Wiesel believes that the greatest danger to our survival as the human race is indifference.  
He says that “the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.It’s our indifference that can create a world full of events that could make any number of people believe that God has abandoned them.  "

After hurling what people would say an insult (comparing her need to a dog eating crumbs from under the table), Jesus comes around to praise her and heals her daughter after she is persistent and kneels in front of him. "We don’t know what Jesus was thinking, but ultimately he chooses to act rather than to be indifferent when he says, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was instantly healed.   

The basic thrust of the story is inclusion."Because Jesus could see that living in the Messianic era would mean an end to the boundaries of race, religion, political sides, and geography because God’s kingdom has no boundaries and no end –and God invites everyone to be a part of this kingdom."

"..he chose mercy and helpfulness, because that is what God would have had him do.

"And that is what God would also have us do—to put aside our indifference, and to carry God’s love and mercy out into the world, with God’s help. ""

This week’s lectionary discussion is from Canon Lance Ousley from the Diocese of Olympia.

"Faithful stewardship reflects the condition of the heart. One’s priorities are on display through the authenticity of word and action exhibiting the truth faith of the person, either as a steward or not. It is important to understand that faithful stewardship is a holistic state of living one’s faith, not limited to any single element of time, abilities, resources, but is all encompassing including stewardship of God’s love, grace and mercy. Our readings this week join this holistic understanding of authentic faith and its universality to all of humanity.

"Psalm 133 reflects the divine joy in grace-filled flourishing human relationships. Likewise, in the reading option from Isaiah 56, God calls out to us to live justly and mercifully with an authentic relationship with all people reflecting the position of our relationship with God. So as we treat one another and as we utilize our gifts and resources for the good of all we live reflecting our love for God as a priority in our lives.

"Paul’s words to the Romans, set forth the universal love and mercy of God for all people, both "descendants of Abraham" and non-descendants. Living in gratitude to God for divine grace and mercy for our own misdoings, we are compelled to live as agents of God’s grace and mercy as authentic expression of our relationship with God. God’s mercy is for all people. And likewise, we are to extend mercy as stewards of the grace and mercy we receive.

"Jesus’ challenge of commonly held theological positions targets inauthenticity that puts law and traditions above relationship (and the purpose of the laws) in practice. Jesus’ argument is that it is not what one eats that defiles a person, but rather what flows from their hearts and out of their mouths that either defiles or authenticates one’s faith and relationship with God and humanity. Interestingly, this immediately precedes Jesus’ and the disciples’ encounter with the Canaanite woman. These two stories coupled drive home the point of God’s all-redeeming grace and mercy. While Jesus resists the woman’s pleas at first, he ignores the disciples’ requests to send her away. Jesus stays engaged with the woman, and moreover she stays engaged with Jesus! She displays the authenticity of her faith in God and Jesus as the "Son of David" recognizing what the disciples do not yet understand about Jesus, …Jesus is the savior of the whole world! Perhaps Jesus is utilizing the situation as an object lesson of this disciples. We can’t be sure. But we can see that as Jesus spoke in the earlier verses of the reading this woman is not "defiled" because she has purity of heart. However, the disciples’ hearts are mis-prioritized at this point denying her humanity and need for healing and grace. I wonder if there were unrecorded conversations in the gospel account about the "defilement in their hearts" in wanting to send the woman away. A stewardship lesson here for us is that the blessings we receive are not for us and for us alone, but are for the good of all."

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