Wayne A. Strohschein, pastor.
Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost In Isaiah we hear that God’s house shall be a house of prayer for all people and that God will gather the outcasts of Israel. The Canaanite woman in today’s gospel is a Gentile, an outsider, who is unflinching in her request that Jesus heal her daughter. As Jesus commends her bold faith, how might our church extend its mission to those on the margins of society? In our gathering around Word and meal we receive strength to be signs of comfort, healing, and justice for those in need.
Think of the last time you had a large meal and you were asked about having dessert. Ever feel too full to consider eating anything more. We know the feeling of being too full.
Sometimes our lives are so filled with the activities and obligations of work, play, volunteering, chores, and errands, and this club and that organization that it leaves little room for quiet and peace, meditation, scripture reading and prayer or even sleep. We pack our schedules until there is no room for anything more like family time.
Sometimes we wonder how we can continue to do it all. No wonder some are filled with depression and anxiety. They feel they are at a breaking point. We wonder if the world is safe or if we are headed to war. We wonder if our nation is secure or if it is coming apart at the seams. We worry if we have to travel if we will encounter peaceful relaxed places or violent places. What town or city will blow up next with the violence demonstrators bring in. Is Springfield safe? Is Ava safe? We wonder about our own extended families. Will they come together or be pulled apart by too much on their plates?
Our plates are full. We are stretched too thin. Yet life keeps asking for more. We cannot imagine squeezing in one more request for help, one more person in need, or one more social issue. We feel we are already stretched too far by the weight of war and violence near and far, by the demands of this social group or that political group. We feel ready to explode and sometimes we do, exploding in family violence or into social and political violence like happened in Charlottesville and many other cities. Do we live in a culture that demands too much? Are we saying there is no room left to accommodate those on the margins? We are pulled in different directions by political, social and religious pressures. They don’t agree on what values, mores and ethics are the right ones. When they don’t agree, which do we follow?
If we just look at our faith community we find if we are not careful we can be pulled apart? That is why the pillar of being scripturally grounded is so important for us.
This is the context in which we hear today’s gospel reading. Consider if you will Jesus’ first response to the Canaanite woman. It is as if Jesus says there is no more room at the table and there is not even bread left to share. A woman, an outsider, is hungry for healing–healing not for herself but for her daughter – and begs Jesus to heal her.
The Canaanite woman who comes to Jesus recognizes fullness too. She sees the fullness of God’s table. She sees a table so full that there is food falling unnoticed to the dogs. She sees a table that doesn’t have a finite limit. She sees a crumb from God’s feast as enough to fill even her deepest hunger.
Paul reminds the Romans that God’s mercies expand the kingdom rather than limit it, pushing others out. They really struggled with “Who is the gospel of grace and hope for.” Is God’s grace limited, in finite supply or is God’s mercy and grace without measure, never used up?
A voice from the margins calls out to remind us that we are never too full for God’s grace, that a crumb from God’s table is enough. It is a message of plenty rather than scarcity.
In Matthew 28:16-20, Jesus commissions the disciples to “make disciples of all nations.” Is it God or us that limit God’s grace and mercy?
Maybe we need to ask ourselves who is filling our plate
Welcome to worship and Christian fellowship. May you find
blessing and strength in your participation here this morning.
Happy Anniversary to Janet and Wilbur Heier. Happy Birthday to Jerry Johnson, born on Aug. 23.
Join us for a potluck immediately following worship today. Food is always plentiful.
Sunday school and Bible study is at 9:30 Sunday. Sunday worship is at 10:45 a.m.