August 17, 2017
Matthew 15:[10-10] 21-28
for Sunday, August 20
Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
This Week's Reflection Comes from
The Rev. Peter A. Williams, Episcopal Priest
Rector and pastor of the combined
Episcopal and ELCA congregation Grace and Holy Spirit Cortland
Chaplain for Ministry for the Deaf Community in the Central NY Episcopal Diocese
Jesus confronts a literal attitude of the Bible and faith, in which mere observance of written rules is regarded as being a good person. That approach seems so simple and clear but, sorry, that is not the way it is, Jesus tells us. And those who took that approach in his day lived somewhat tortured lives of obedience to every possible nuance of the rules regarding diet, observance of the Sabbath, and other aspects of life. Even though much of this stuff is clearly dictated in the lines of the Hebrew scriptures, Jesus is saying "God does not want you to live that way." Make no mistake about it-Jesus is not a literalist with scripture, yet constantly calls us to live the fullness of God's love. He is telling us "You have to learn to read between the lines." Just in case this point is still not clear, then we read how Jesus is challenged by a woman who is not even an Israelite, and claims God's love is also for her and her people.
Surprise! Despite what the Old Testament passages say about other groups in the region who are pagans, and not in tune with the "true religion," Jesus agrees with her!
In this passage in Matthew, Jesus confronts the people who are shocked by all this with another earth shaking, non-literal, reading of scripture: God loves and accepts everyone---even if others interpret the Bible to only include the people of Israel.
Oh, how badly those literal, narrow views of what our Biblical faith is all about have played out in our American church history. Many Christians allowed for slavery, and justified virtual enslavement of blacks long after the civil war. The Bible has been cited to support the subjugation of women, who did not even have voting rights until just 100 years ago in the USA. Women had only a secondary role in the ELCA and the Episcopal Church until the 70's and even later, as this literal "the Bible says" version of Christianity prevailed. We always cited rules or even a LACK of specific words for prohibition of women pastors. Christians would say, women cannot become clergy because "Jesus did not ordain women, or say anything about that." And LGBT people? Don't get me started.
Hey everyone-- Jesus was not a literalist. I would love to shout this from the roof tops!
So many people in so many religions, are trapped into this shallow mindset of fundamentalism, and they are causing great harm. This results in many other people rejecting religious faith because they see so many of these bone-headed ideas on the airwaves and in the terrible news reports we see each night.
Whether it is the so called "prosperity gospel", justification for male or white domination, ultra orthodox Jewish fundamentalists who hamper peace efforts in the middle east, or radical Islamic fundamentalists who use the most extreme hatred and violence against all others... this approach to faith is not life giving. After all, to tell people God says "Love me or go to hell" is not a very inviting approach to bringing God to others.
Yes, we need God in our lives, and we rejoice in the revelation of God in the person of Jesus Christ our Savior. We need to take this relationship seriously. But we do not have to become shallow caricatures of Christians who are utterly rigid in their approach to the world. At the same time, we cannot act like a secular person.
We still ought to be passionate about being a follower of Jesus Christ, because we are not called to merely be in a religious denomination; we are called to be in LOVE. When mainline Christians get better at showing this passion, we will be able to invite more fundamentalist people to come into our community, and be freed from the shackles of a misread Bible. I firmly believe that we mainline Christians are called to do this!
Read between the lines! Be passionate for Jesus Christ! Set people free!
© Copyright 2017 Upstate New York Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. All Rights Reserved.
[10[Jesus] called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand:11it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” 12Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” 13He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” 15But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” 16Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? 18But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. 19For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”]
21Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22Just 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.” 23But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” 24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 27She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
Names will remain of the Prayer List for a month - at which
time it will be taken off unless, or course, there is still a continued need
for our prayers and we’re asked to keep the name on.
***Adopt-a-Highway is this Saturday, August 19 at 9:00 am. God's work, our hands.... please join us at the church!
*** Stay connected with Pastor Ivy… parsonage: 386-1022; cell phone: 904-0855 (call or text); email: firstname.lastname@example.org ; mail: P. O. Box 43, Bemus Point, NY 14712.
Back-to-School Supplies Donation Drive
Attention Lutheran Family!
G.A. Learning Center Youth Need Our Help!
Many families do not have the resources to provide these items for the comfort,
dignity, and success of our students.
• New or Gently Used and Clean Jeans, Khakis, Shorts, and Sneakers in Various Sizes
• Boys (most needed) and Girls Underwear in All Sizes
• Socks in All Sizes
• New or Gently Used and Clean Navy Blue Polo Shirts in Various Sizes
• Personal Care Products: Hygiene Wipes, Body Wash,Shampoo & Conditioner, Toothpaste, Toothbrushes, Deodorant, Hairbrushes, Hair Ties, and Combs
Items may be dropped off at these locations:
• LHRC Front Desk
• Senior Housing – Diana’s Office
• Marketing – Edwin’s Office
• Learning Center – Linda’s Office
The deadline is August 31st
GA Family Services Learning Center
United We Stand. United We Pray.
On June 30, 2017, both The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg marked the end of their respective communities with prayers, sadness, mourning, memories, reflection, and fellowship. The very next day, the communities consolidated to become United Lutheran Seminary — One Seminary, Two Campuses.
Speaking to many who attended these events, the words emotional, loss, ending, past, sadness, and history often came up. But so did words like birth, community, share, blessing, journey, festive, joy, and pray. These are honest heartfelt words from both communities expressing raw emotions but also expectations of a hopeful future — together. So, indeed, we now stand United. But more importantly, United we pray — for our returning and new students (the largest incoming student body in a number of years), for peace in the world, for guidance, for ULS staff and faculty; the whole church in the world, and for United Lutheran Seminary — the newest graduate and professional school in theological education with the deepest roots.
Thanks be to God!
· For our community of faith as we seek to do God’s work in the world.
· For those in our congregation and community who suffer silently with illness, financial burdens, and family obligation.
· For victims of violence and their families in all places
· For Danielle Hull, Jill Scott, Bill Reel, Eleanor Bergeson Orman, Helen Cogliano, Chris Ziemba, John Bylund, Joanne Aron, Adam Hull, Pastor John Klatt, JoLynn Stearns, Scott Stearns, Zachary Frazier, Todd Reel, Maj-Britt Traynor, Gerald Ayers, Matt Isaacson, Sandra Kelderhouse, Thom Shagla, Ralph Prieur, Mary Anne, Ryan Samuelson,
· For people serving in the military and their families, those caught up in war who have no safe home in which to live.
· For all children, that the love of Christ may reach them through all of us who have resources to love, protect, pray and provide for them.