Sunday, March 22, 2015


• 5th Sunday of Lent
With Matthew 15:21-28 and Romans 15:5-13

• This scripture story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman is a puzzling and offensive passage… It demands reflection. Ironically we read it on the heels of Jesus speaking about clean and unclean, and here he seems wrong and rude.
• Many unanswered questions… Where’d the woman come from? What happens after this, does she become a disciple? How does she have such faith, she’s a double outsider?
And why is Jesus so cold and mean and insulting?
It’s okay to say “I don’t know.” Saying IDK invites discussion.
Invite opinion. Embrace mystery. Don’t twist the story to make it nice.
• Perhaps shows human side of Jesus (still seeking solitude, keeps getting interrupted) and perhaps it shows growth as Jesus’ understanding of his own mission e x p a n d s beyond him serving Jews only, from Jerusalem, from Israel, to the needful lost of the world. (and perhaps we can learn from him and e x p a n d as well…)

Let me share with you several “take-home points”
• Take-home point: This woman is amazing. She’s a double outsider (a woman and Canaanite, two powerless positions in ancient Israel) but an exemplary disciple. From the sermon on mount, turn the other cheek, and do not repay violence, also other parts we’ve gone over before: welcome the children, blessed are they that give aid to them; also persevere… you might think this woman has heard (and followed!) Jesus’ words.
• Take-home point: Judge not. Judge not who may be speaking God’s truth (the double outsider woman) and judge not to whom you’ll reach out.
Whether they look or talk or think or worship or vote like you or not. This episode is a direct challenge to racism and sexism and other isms that inhibit grace.

• Take-home point: Stand up for the voiceless. Challenge isms.
• In this passage we see that the Kingdom of God expands beyond the “original” bounds.
Jesus reaches out to Gentiles
Matthew speaks to developing communities as Christianity spreads
Ask for God’s grace when it expands into territory uncomfortable for you..

Personal anecdote: I am not Conservative, but I was appointed to a Conservative (yes, capital “C”) church. It was fine because I don’t wave a liberal flag and I do 1) preach the gospel and 2) uphold the teachings of The United Methodist Church.
A member of this church, noticing the theological difference, asked me (without judgment) why I was appointed to the church. I told her “Whether you (or I) like it or not, same-sex marriage is coming to the US. Doesn’t matter what an individual’s opinion is, it’s coming. Maybe just maybe, God wanted me to be your shepherd when that happened.”
We can talk about the compatibility of Christianity and homosexuality another time, but surely we would stand for the rights of non-Christians to marry in the United States… why would a Christian group put a particular Christian interpretation on a civil law and stand against marriage equality?
I believe Jesus was wrong in this passage. And that he expanded… he grew.
And I believe the church needs to grow – to e x p a n d – in the context of marriage equality, to speak out on behalf of those who have no power in The System…

• Hymn 365 Grace That Is Greater

Matthew 15:21-28        (CEB)   03/22/15
21 From there, Jesus went to the regions of Tyre and Sidon.
22 A Canaanite woman from those territories came out and shouted, “Show me mercy, Son of David. My daughter is suffering terribly from demon possession.” 23 But Jesus didn’t respond to her at all.
His disciples came and urged him,
“Send her away; she keeps shouting out after us.”
24 Jesus replied, “I’ve been sent only to the lost sheep,
the people of Israel.”
25 But she knelt before him and said, “Lord, help me.”
26 He replied, “It is not good to take the children’s bread
and toss it to dogs.”
27 She said, “Yes, Lord. But even the dogs eat the crumbs
that fall off their masters’ table.”
28 Jesus answered,
“Woman, you have great faith. It will be just as you wish.”
And right then her daughter was healed.

Romans 15:5-13  (Common English Bible)                 3/22/15
May the God of endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude toward each other, similar to Christ Jesus’ attitude. That way you can glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ together with one voice.
So welcome each other, in the same way that Christ also welcomed you, for God’s glory.
I’m saying that Christ became a servant of those who are circumcised for the sake of God’s truth, in order to confirm the promises given to the ancestors, and so that the Gentiles could glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
Because of this I will confess you among the Gentiles,
    and I will sing praises to your name.[Psalm 18:49]
10 And again, it says,
Rejoice, Gentiles, with his people.[Deut 32:43]
11 And again,
Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
    and all the people should sing his praises.[Psalm 117:1]
12 And again, Isaiah says,
There will be a root of Jesse,
    who will also rise to rule the Gentiles.
        The Gentiles will place their hope in him.[Isaiah 11:10]

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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