This morning I preached (long distance of course!) at All Saints Episcopal Church in Atlanta. I had to unpack a tough text - the story where a mean Jesus called a woman “dog”:
Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matthew 15:21-28)
Today’s Sunday special is that sermon - part teaching, part preaching on a hard passage.
Is the story of Jesus and the woman central to what it means to be Christian community? Although it is tempting to want to dismiss or minimize it, I’ve come to believe it is the cornerstone of faith and one of the most important of all Gospel texts.
Here Jesus turns the tables on his friends, and shocks them and us with a vision for a different kind of world.
God of unclean hands,
rejected by the privileged,
despised by the religious:
guide us from false purity
which hides misshapen hearts,
and contributes to the injustice of our world;
lead us to the joyful feast
to which all are invited
and in which all are renewed. Amen.
(based on a prayer from Steven Shakespeare, Prayers for an Inclusive Church)
Have a lovely Sunday! See you tomorrow with the regular Monday Cottage!