Let’s start with three deep breaths and relax….
Holy One, we come before you
with sighs too deep for words.
We come with hearts overwhelmed—
by the world, by personal relationships,
and by inward struggles.
We come to praise your name
and to be reassured of your unending grace.
In this time and place,
open our hearts to your presence.
Open our ears to hear your word proclaimed.
Open our hands to serve you and the world.
May our lives reflect Christ,
who walks with us and gives us life.
In the name of Christ, we pray.
let us begin today’s worship
Call to Worship (Psalm 133)
L: We have gathered from our different places
to worship here.
P: How good it is to worship together in unity!
L: We come from our different occupations,
our diverse activities.
P: How good it is to worship together in unity!
L: We come as unique individuals,
bound together in the love of Christ.
P: How good it is to worship together in unity!
Where Charity and Love Prevail #396
(All candles lit.)
Matthew 15:21-28 The Canaanite Woman’s Faith
21 Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 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.” 23 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.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
The word of God for the people of God!
Ben Crump in his book open season speaks of his desire to become a lawyer:
“My path was carved and my goal came into view: I would become an attorney like Thurgood Marshall, and I would fight to make life better for the people from my side of the tracks. I would fight for equal opportunity for the most marginalized and disenfranchised to attain what many still call the “American Dream.” I was going to fight for all people to have an equal chance at justice and an equal chance at freedom.
However, after many years of practicing law on the front lines of the justice system, I learned that it is dangerous to be a “colored person,” I mean Black and brown people and people who are colored by their sexual preference, religious beliefs, or gender. In short, I define a person of color as anyone who is a nonwhite male.”
Ecclesiastes 1: 9
9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Warren carter reminds us that todays gospel reading; “Locates Jesus in a world of ethnic, cultural, economic, political, and religious barriers. Jesus is not exempt from these prejudices, but God’s reign, responsible for wholeness and plenty (14:13-21, 34-36; 15:29-39), breaks them down. The scene continues to present the responsiveness on those margins.”
Now we should note that Jesus has many encounters with gentiles, people who were not Jewish. “Some commentators suggest that "Syro-Phoenician" or "Canaanite" indicate merely that the woman is a gentile, and both descriptions evoke Jewish antipathy to gentiles. But this view implies that all Jews loathed and avoided all non-Jews. First-century Jews were diverse in their attitudes toward gentiles and interactions with them in Jesus' time, as well as when the Gospel of Matthew was written late in the first century. Matthew's Gospel story has many references to gentiles, some positive and some negative. The gospel writer displays common Jewish attitudes by describing gentiles as exhibiting despicable behavior. For example, Jesus says, "When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the gentiles do." (6:7). When admonishing disciples not to worry about food or drink or clothing, he says, "For it is the gentiles who strive for all these things." (6:32) But in the parable of the last judgment, when all the gentiles are gathered before the Son of Man, he separates the sheep from the goats. Some gentiles are "sheep" who inherit the kingdom and some are "goats" who do not. (25:31ff) And at the end of Matthew, the resurrected Jesus sends his disciples forth to raise up disciples among the gentiles. (28:19)”
This text today is not merely pointing out that this is another encounter with a gentile. This woman is specific. This woman’s heritage brings a loathing, a sense of hatred that goes beyond reason. You see “As a Canaanite, a cursed people, destined to be subjugated as slaves (Gen 9:25), she belongs to a people disposed by Israel’s occupation and possession of the land. This Israelite victory was viewed as God’s gift, was understood as an expression of Israel’s elect status, and was celebrated in Israel’s traditions.”
This is about race. I do not say this to make a grand example of how relevant this story is to today’s world. It is just a fact. Or is it? Actually it’s about tribalism and sect-ism, because race is a new world invention used to subjugate people in order to justify slavery. But what is race? How many different races of people are there in this world?
Layla F. Saad in her book me and white supremacy reminds us that; “Following advances in science such as the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, scientists were able to examine human ancestry through genetics. Science has proven that the concept of race is not a biological fact but rather a social concept. According to Dr. Harold P. Freeman, who has studied biology and race, "If you ask what percentage of your genes is reflected in your external appearance, the basis by which we talk about race, the answer seems to be in the range of .01 percent. This is a very, very minimal reflection of your genetic makeup."3 What we see as observable physical differences among people of “different races" are actually just different genotype and phenotype expressions among one race- the human race. Despite our differences in skin color, hair texture, and other physical traits, genetically, you and I are largely the same. However, because race is a deeply held social construct and because of the existence of white supremacy you and I are not treated the same.”
Jesus is approached by this woman. A woman from a region that indicates severe poverty. She is somewhere, or nowhere for it is only defined as some obscure in between place. In between Tyre and Sidon two towns often engaged in skirmishes around land, food and water. We can only imagine what it is like to live between two sparring areas or take a closer look at the world and see how the innocent who live between warring factions are treated, often they can barely survive.
So let us add this up, she is a woman, she is from a cursed tribe, she is poor and in a region ravaged by war. There is no husband present at this time, otherwise we know that the man would address Jesus. The woman greets Jesus in a very formal way; “have mercy on me, Son of David.” Listen to that, she actually invokes Jesus’ lineage…
“The Matthean Jesus is the son of David from the beginning of the narrative as revealed in the genealogy (Matthew 1:1, 16). Perhaps with her initial words, the woman is claiming an ancestral relationship to Jesus. Three women in Jesus’ genealogy are Canaanite women: Rahab, Tamar, and Ruth (Matthew 1:3, 5). The anonymous woman’s foremothers are Jesus’ kinfolk.”
I’d like to believe she may be very clever. She is anticipating a Jewish response to her presence and yet she calls on Jesus to remember his heritage. So what is Jesus’ initial response? Well here is an interesting note. Mitzi J Smith professor of new testament at Columbia reminds us…
“In the previous episode (Matthew 15:10-20) Jesus had taught the crowds -- including some Pharisees -- and his disciples that a person is defiled not by what she puts in her stomach but by that which originates in her heart and is manifested in her life (for example, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, deception).
The preceding narrative implies that one’s race, ethnicity, gender, disability, or class does not defile a person; hence, the reader might be surprised by both Jesus’ silence and his response to the Canaanite woman. Initially, Jesus fails to acknowledge the Canaanite woman and her request for mercy.
Anyone with a pressing need knows how horrible it feels to have a dire or significant request for help or information met with dead silence (15:23a). Women’s words are too often met with silence or are interrupted or disrespected, by men and sometimes by other women. Those times in my life when I asked for information or help and received nothing but silence, I would have preferred a heck no!”
But she, this lone woman, in an in between space will not be answered by silence no she persisted! She keeps on keeping on shouting over and over and over again…
“No one immediately responds to the Canaanite woman or gives the impression that they will respond. The disciples urge Jesus to send her away because, it appears, they are annoyed by her continued shouting, her refusal to take silence for an answer (Matthew 15:23b; see Acts 16:16-18). Too often we cannot or refuse to empathize with people whose experience is different from our own. If the oppression, injustice, or pain is not happening in our house and neighborhood or does not impact our race, gender, class, or sexuality, then we dismiss it as unwelcomed, unjustified noise. Jesus’ response to the apostles’ urging to send the Canaanite woman away seems to affirm their desire to dismiss her: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24, NRSV). The fact that her people’s blood runs through his veins and that his people’s blood runs through her veins does not move Jesus! If our common humanity, our relatedness, does not move us, what will?
The Canaanite woman persists. Like Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Oprah Winfrey, Senator Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senator Kamala Harris, the Canaanite woman persisted. But so many anonymous women like the Canaanite woman have persisted as lone minority voices among a majority of authoritative and powerful men. She persisted! She didn’t go away; she won’t be dismissed. She draws closer and kneels, and in the vernacular of a determined woman she cries, “Master, help me,” (Matthew 15:25). Her plea for help is met with the language of cultural difference and distance: “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs” (15:26)”
“The woman, however, is not deterred. She claims a place in the household, but it is not a position of privilege or even the position of an insider. She accepts the status of a family’s dog by claiming that even the dog enjoys crumbs from the table.”
Carter warren points out that “To refer to her as a dog or bitch, even a “little bitch” or puppy, since a diminutive form is used, is offensive and insulting Jesus seems to be “caught with his compassion down”
Yet she sees an opening and She has claimed a spot in the household! She has not only outwitted the “master” she found an invitation in the rejection. She has found a way in. often in the miracles of Jesus we hear he is moved by compassion and or by great faith. As a matter of fact Jesus claims it is her faith that is great but…
“Her statement is striking. She places hope in what others have discarded. This Son of David has so much power that there is enough power for the house of Israel and more than enough left over for her. She is not trying to thwart his mission. She just wants a crumb, recognizing that even a crumb is powerful enough to defeat the demon that has possessed her daughter.”
I believe in her cleverness of reminding Jesus that they share a heritage…Humanity…That she will even accept a crumb, even though he has insulted her, she is kneeling before him, she doesn’t leave in anger…
She has become a river against a stone…. she has broken down the boundaries Jesus was raised with, the ones the disciples attempted to perpetuate. She calls out his lineage, he ignores her, she kneels before him and so he speaks to her. The stone is being worn down. In his speech he insults her…she remains and twists his words. Another bit of stone is worn down. Her words show that these artificial boundaries of tribes and sects and gender, must be broken.
Marilyn Salmon Professor of new Testament at united theological has a fantastic summary of this story and the movement in this story.
“We know the gospel narrative is about Jesus and look to him for the meaning of this story. We would be amiss, however, if we did not pay close attention to the woman in this story. (as we have been) The Canaanite woman models the most admirable human behavior, not Jesus. She shows willingness to be vulnerable by seeking help from a longstanding foe whom she knows despises her because of national and racial divisions. She asks for help for her daughter, not for herself. She is persistent in the face of insults and rejection, for her daughter's sake. The Canaanite woman has the best lines in the story, especially her last one. "Call me dog," she says, "but even the dogs get the crumbs that fall from the table." She is the clear underdog (pun intended) who wins the prize of highest value for any mother, Jew or despised Canaanite -- her child's health and well-being.
Of course the story is about Jesus. We see a very human Jesus. We see ourselves mirrored in Jesus' attitude toward the Canaanite woman, but not our best selves. We know very well the tendency to define and fear an "other" on the basis of skin color, nationality, class, or creed, deeply ingrained stereotypes that go back generations or even centuries. We resent being bothered by the concerns of those people. We have our own children to care for. When they persist, insisting on equal treatment and justice for their children, we resort to racial slurs and insults. And we are very good at justifying our actions rather than admitting the prejudice that persist.
The story is about Jesus, and in Jesus we see the very best of human potential in relationships with others, even those we avoid and fear. We see in Jesus the possibility of perceiving common humanity where we could see only difference. And when we encounter the "other" as one who shares our humanity, we can never see them as "other" again. The Canaanite woman has the best lines in this story, but Jesus has the last word: "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." Not "Canaanite woman" but simply "woman." She will never be defined by national or racial or religious prejudice again. She is now a mother like any other who desperately seeks help for her child. And for this mother's sake, Jesus heals her daughter. And perhaps Jesus heals us, too, from the temptation to hang on to old stereotypes and habits that prevent us from embracing our common humanity.”
This story is also one of patience and growth. It takes time. It takes persistence. When one is tired of the work of Justice and equality we may have to fall to our knees in exhaustion but we must persist. The final result can be seen in Mathew 28:19
19” Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to keep everything I have commanded you”
And what did Jesus command…Love God and Love one another. Not until all are treated equally and just will those commandments be fulfilled amen.
A call to prayer
God of All,
gather us into a time of prayer
for our family.
Expand our vision
to understand each human being
as our sister or brother;
and enlarge our hearts
to offer love for each other,
even as you love each of us.
Be with us now as we pray for members of your family.
There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy #23
Let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us
Our Creator, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kin-dom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kin-dom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen
Invitation to the Offering
Christ reminds us that our treasures, our gifts from God,
are most beneficial when they are used for the kingdom of God.
May this be the time when we bring forth our gifts to be blessed by God.
Doxology #778 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9My-_5s6bBQ
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise God, all creatures here below;
Praise God for all that love has done;
Creator, Christ, and Spirit, one.
Offering Prayer (Gen 22)
Bountiful God, when famine threatened the world,
you blessed Joseph with dreams
that saved children of every nation.
Faithful One, when hunger threatens our world,
you bless us with dreams
that we can save the children of our day.
Bless this offering,
that your dreams for a world without want
may bless the lives of your children.
Accept these gifts,
as tokens of our dreams and our commitment
to make all people one
in your holy name. Amen.
The office is open for regular hours
We are accepting donations for the kidz cupboard and the food pantry
I am available for one on one virtual visits or phone calls if you need any prayer we will be together again one day, but until then remember you are the hands and the feet of our lord in this world and in this world of no physical contact we can still smile, wave, chat, check in
This is the day of New Beginnings #417
Go forth knowing that you are part of God’s family.
Go forth proclaiming the praises of God.
Go forth in the assurance that Christ is always with us.
Go forth singing, Loud and Proud, wherever you are.
Just a note Bible study is on summer leave…
Next Sunday, Aug. 2nd, is Communion Sunday; set a sacred space aside with bread and juice, or cracker and water, whatever you have on hand to make the ritual meaning full
 Crump, Benjamin. Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People. Amistad, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2019.
 Carter, Warren. Matthew and the Margins: a Socio-Political and Religious Reading. Orbis Books, 2001.
 Carter, Warren. Pg. 321
 Saad, Layla F. Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor. Sourcebooks, 2020.
 Carter, Warren Pg. 324