Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 22) (Green)
Sunday, September 2nd, 2018
Readings Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 7-10; James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Collect Author and Giver of all good things, graft in our hearts the love of your name, increase in us true religion, nourish us in all goodness, and of your great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Alt 1 Compassionate God, you touch those rejected by the world and those despised by false piety: guide us away from a false purity which hides misshapen hearts; and lead us to the joyful feast in which all are renewed; through Jesus Christ, the beauty of God’s faith. Amen. (Prayers for an Inclusive Church (2009) alt.)
Alt 2 Blessed are you, O Lord and Lover, source of beauty and depth of passion. Strengthen and inspire us to do the word we hear and live the faith we confess, through Jesus, our Saviour and Friend. Amen. (Revised Common Lectionary Prayers (2002))
Prayer over the Gifts
Merciful God, receive all we offer you this day. Give us grace to love one another that your love may be made perfect in us. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer After Communion
Almighty God, you renew us at your table with the bread of life. May your holy food strengthen us in love and help us to serve you in each other. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
[8AM – THE FIRST LESSON IS TAKEN FROM THE 2ND CHAPTER OF THE SONG OF SOLOMON, BEGINNING AT THE 8TH VERSE.]
A READING FROM THE SONG OF SOLOMON
The voice of my beloved!
Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Look, there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows, looking through the lattice.
My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”
[8AM – THIS IS THE WORD OF THE LORD.]
HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCH.
THANKS BE TO GOD. (SONG OF SOLOMON 2:8-13)
REFRAIN God has blessed you for ever.
My heart is stirring with a noble song; let me recite what I have fashioned for the king; my tongue shall be the pen of a skilled writer.
You are the fairest of men; grace flows from your lips, because God has blessed you for ever. R
Your throne, O God, endures for ever and ever, a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of your kingdom; you love righteousness and hate iniquity.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows. R
All your garments are fragrant with myrrh, aloes, and cassia, and the music of strings from ivory palaces makes you glad.
Kings’ daughters stand among the ladies of the court; on your right hand is the queen, adorned with the gold of Ophir. R
PSALM 45:1-2, 7-10
[8AM – THE SECOND LESSON IS TAKEN FROM THE 1ST CHAPTER OF THE LETTER OF SAINT JAMES, BEGINNING AT THE 17TH VERSE.]
A READING FROM THE LETTER OF SAINT JAMES
Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
In fulfilment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.
Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.
For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.
But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act – they will be blessed in their doing.
If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
[8AM – THIS IS THE WORD OF THE LORD.]
HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCH.
THANKS BE TO GOD. (JAMES 1:17-27)
[8AM – THE LORD BE WITH YOU. AND WITH THY SPIRIT.
THE HOLY GOSPEL IS WRITTEN IN THE 7TH CHAPTER OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT MARK, BEGINNING AT THE 1ST VERSE.
GLORY BE TO THEE, O LORD.]
THE LORD BE WITH YOU. AND ALSO WITH YOU.
THE HOLY GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO MARK
GLORY TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.)
So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
[Jesus] said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Then [Jesus] called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
THIS IS THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.
PRAISE TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.
[8AM – PRAISE BE TO THEE, O CHRIST.] MARK 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Let us pray.
Holy God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.
By show of hands, are any of you canners, do you put up fruits and vegetables for the winter from the market or from your own garden?
There was a time when I would do all of that – jams, relishes, peaches, and especially pickles.
I have a great deal of suspicion about things that happen “because we’ve always done it that way.” Sometimes the old way holds up under scrutiny, but often it does not.
I sometimes get in trouble with my family for questioning old and cherished traditions, but especially recipes. We once had a pretty long “discussion” about canning dill pickles. It sounds a bit ridiculous to talk about now. But here goes – dill pickles, as you may know are basically 4 ingredients: cucumbers, vinegar, salt and seasonings. None of that was cause for our “discussion”. It turns out that in my family that each jar is sealed up with a penny inside.
I was asked when I announced that I was going to make pickles, innocently enough, whether I had enough pennies for the project. I searched all my recipe books and Google and discovered that the pennies were meant to keep the colour constant.
So our old “friends” the Pharisees and scribes, those of Jesus society committed to the preservation of their own status and privilege, confront Jesus about some of his disciples not keeping the traditions of washing hands in a very specific and ritualised way before eating.
Jesus responds that the leaders are missing the point. They value and teach following rules rather than encouraging people to follow the deeper motivations and practices of truth faith. For example, the leaders promote giving to the temple over persons caring for their aging parents. Jesus finishes the debate by stating “there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” (v.15)
Look within, Jesus says, to the heart.
The truth and glory is not in outward appearances,
not in the circumstances of your life,
the conditions of your body.
The failure of your flesh, or even of your mind,
does not defile you or make you less sanctified.
It is in your heart that evil or goodness lives.
– Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Live that
Jesus was very clear: no law was to be used to exclude another person, and no law was to override compassion, forgiveness, and a welcoming inclusion into the community. – Megan McKenna, On Your Mark: Reading Mark in the Shadow of the Cross
It took a lot of discussion and a bit of insistence but there were no pennies nor the chance of heavy metal poisoning in any of my pickles. But, it took a surprising amount of discussion to get past the “we’ve always done it that way”.
As a leader in the church, whenever I see Jesus correcting the Pharisees I must pause and ask myself if I am falling into the same traps. Some have said, “It is easier to do church than to be church.” It is easier to do it like we always have – to follow rules, maintain rituals, and create programs – than to be Christ-like in our words, actions, and thoughts.
I’ve found it humbling to ask myself what “outcasts” do I spurn as impure, unclean, dirty, contaminated, and, in my mind, far from God. The mentally ill, people who have married three or four times, wealthy executives, welfare recipients, people who hold different political and civil opinions, or maybe people living with HIV? How have I distorted the self-sacrificing, egalitarian love of God into self-serving, exclusionary elitism? What boundaries do I wrongly build or might I attempt shattering?
I pray to experience what (Marcus) Borg calls a “community shaped not by… [the pursuit of] purity, but by the …[practice] of compassion.”
– Dan Clendenin, The Journey with Jesus: Notes to Myself
Let us pray.
Jesus, you bring people together to be your Body, your Church. Save us from everything false, distracting and enslaving. Heal us from legalism, prejudice, and short sightedness. Help us build communities instead of institutions. Empower us to make disciples instead of members. Cleanse us within so that everything that pours forth from our lips, hearts and hands are full of your grace and salvation. In your name we ask and pray so you alone may be glorified.
Adapted from http://pastorblog.cumcdebary.org/?p=2803