Pentecost 16 – September 9, 2018

Rev. Lyle McKenzie Lutheran Church of the Cross of Victoria
Proverbs 22:1-2,8-9,22-23 / Psalm 125 / James 2:1-17 / Mark 7:24-37

The rich and poor have this in common:
the Lord is the maker of them all.
Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
and the rod of anger will fail.
Those who are generous are blessed,
for they share their bread with the poor.

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but stands fast forever.

You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

…mercy triumphs over judgement.

If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their daily needs, what is the good of that?

Jesus said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go – the demon has left your daughter. So she went home and found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Then looking up to heaven, Jesus sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.

The ancient Christian practise of Lectio Divina, or divine reading, encourages reading a portion of the Bible three or four times,

– once intentionally listening for the meaning of the words;

– a second time meditating on the words in present context;

– again with reflection on their connection to living and action;

– and again encouraging meeting God in the reading and living;

All of this is done slowly, allowing space and time to hear the words and contemplate their connections to the world, our lives and God.

Maybe that is what we best do this morning, divine reading, hearing these words and meditating on their meaning, in our context, and connections to our living and to God.

Those who are generous are blessed,
for they share their bread with the poor.

You shall love your neighbour as yourself.

…mercy triumphs over judgement.

If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their daily needs, what is the good of that?

“Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

Jesus sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’

There is a clear connection in these words to living with compassion for our neighbour in need, a responsibility for all of us who are blessed with material security and abundance to share with those who do not have enough, and as opposed to judgement to recognize the strength and dignity of those who ask for help, and to “be opened” as God heals and gives the ability for us and others to hear and speak and act with mercy.

…they share their bread with the poor.

…mercy triumphs over judgement.

Jesus sighed and said, ‘Be opened.’

And as if these words were not enough to contemplate, to connect, to see God, we have the witness of all we sense and experience in worship this morning:

– Music that welcomes us, and sends us out, like it is continuous, eternal…

– Greetings and conversations, checking in, joys and sorrows, new faces, and welcomes, a community communing together

– Words of welcome, acknowledgement of indigenous lands and need for reconciliation, an open invitation to participate…

– A creation prayer, connecting us to all that is in this and every season…

– The Gathering Song… that “justice flow like streams of sparkling water pure… righteousness roll on as others’ cares we heed… and peace pervade this world our whole life through.”

– Greeting in God, Trinity active in grace, love and communion…

– Song of praise, Glory to God, in all creation, and peace on earth

– Prayers of the Day… to collect us in trust and hope of God’s transforming sickness into health and death into life, and open us

– “Many and Great, O God, Are Your Works” children’s action song and hymn of the day, bracketing our words of contemplation and action, Dakota tune, an indigenous song, to the creator, and request, “Grant unto us communion with you, O Star abiding One. Come unto us and dwell with us, with you are found the gifts of life. Bless us with life that has no end, eternal life with you.”

– An affirmation of the goodness of creation in water…

– And the Holy waters of Baptism… for infant Julian James, family and community surrounding him in love, God’s Trinity love in waters in which he will be immersed, embraced in God, in grace in Jesus, filled with the Spirit of new life, putting on, belonging anointed and marked with the cross of Christ to let his light shine forever glorious…

– Prayers, for a world of need and gratitude for a world of God’s grace with all the saints…

– Peace in Christ, for a world in need of peace, peace sure and enough to share with one another, with the world…

– And opened by God’s grace, in mercy triumphing over judgement and sharing our bread with the poor, offering ourselves and our resources in action for this God’s purpose…

– And the meal… a feast of great thanksgiving and holy, holy, holy to God, for Jesus, coming in the name of God, and all creation in each cell and every breath, Jesus offering body and blood given in bread and wine, blessed, broken by our Father/Mother in heaven, holy be your name, and your dominion come in gifts of God for the people of God… holy, holy, holy, communion with one another, this world, all creation, in Jesus present and given…

– Thanks be to God… for all this abundance, for being opened, for mercy triumphing over judgement, for being fed and sharing the bread of heaven as the poor together…

– And blessed and sent. commissioned, affirmed in our Baptismal vocation to do the same, be the same, be opened, graced, fed, blessed, streams of living justice, flowing down upon the earth… in bread shared with the poor and in mercy that triumphs over judgement every time. O God! let it be so, for the good of all creation, in all our relations, and Amen.