Service for Sunday 14 August 2011
Year A Sunday 20
Genesis 45:1-15; Psalm 133; Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32; Matthew 15:(10-20), 21-28. Green.
Call to worship
This is the day the Lord has made:
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Hymn Together in Song 156 Morning has broken
Prayer of Adoration and confession
God Most High,
We praise you for all of your works, for your goodness to us,
For your presence with us from the very beginnings our our existence,
For your promise to be present with us into all eternity.
For making us all different from each other,
yet all reflecting your own image,
for making us able to be in relationship with you,
and for giving us freedom to grow and learn,
and choose the way we would live.
Among the first lessons our ancestors learned was blaming others,
and as people gained different languages,
and drifted into seperate groups,
and became nations,
people became suspicious of others,
and found others to blame for everything.
We confess that we are a part of what has gone wrong in your world,
we have judged,a nd misjudged, others,
we have failed to understand, and failed to try to understand,
we have done what is easy, instead of struggling with what is right,
we have turned away when people were in need.
We give you thanks that in Jesus,
you provided the means
for us to be put right with you.
We pray in his name. Amen.
Declaration of forgiveness
Kid's Time – Bec
Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
Hymn Together in Song 260 He walked on earth (new one we've learned over past couple of weeks.)
(Narrative – remove stole, put on scarf, come out from behind lectern...)
I know I shouldn't be here, but please don't send me away. I know non-Jews, especially non-Jewish women, aren't really welcome in your temple. But I've come to find out more about this God the Jews worship, the God of Jesus, and to find a way to give my thanks.
I'm a mother, just like any of you Jewish mothers. I've got a little girl. I always thought she was the most wonderful little girls in the world. Well, most mothers think their children in are the best in the world, don't they? But I was always convinced mine really was. She was the most well behaved, polite, quiet little girl. She was kind and helpful to everyone.
But over tinme something started to change. At first I didn't really notice it. Then it became more obvious. I realised that she wasn't so polite. She wasn't so kind. She got into strange moods and became disobedient. I thought maybe she was a little unwell. Maybe it was something she would grow out of.
Over time, she became more and more disobedient, more and more destructive. And she started saying things, well, yelling them. Strange things. Things like.... Well, people have secrets, things they don't want everyone to know. Soemtimes other people do know them, and whisper them among themselves. But no-one goes out and yells them in the street. My daughter did. She yelled th emost private, most embarassing things to people in the street. It wasn't that what she said wasn't true, it was. But it wasn't right to say it.
Her father beat her, but that didn't change anything. People started to say things about a demon, and the other women would leave the well when I arrived.
Eventually, it became so bad that I could no longer pretend nothing was wrong. I don't know if you have ever pretended something bad was not happening. You can do it for a while, but eventually you have to face the reality.
Where could I turn? If all the gossiping voices were right and myd aughter really was possessed by a demon, what could I do? What would you do? Some of you are mothers or fathers surely? You must know what I went through
I went to all of our Cannanite gods. I know you don't believe in the gods of Canaan, but they are what I was taught to believe in. I gave sacrifices, I did everything the priests said, but nothing changed. Then the priests told me it was my fault that my daughter was the way she was: I'd displeased the gods! I couldn't believe I'd done anything so bad. Beside that I couldn't believe that any true god would punish my child for something I was responsible for!
I thought perhaps the gods of my people weren't so powerful after all. I went to the Roman gods. The Romans have gods for everything, and I thought maybe they had a god who could help my daughter. But it was just the same as with the Canaanite gods – I gave all the sacrifices, I did everything I was told and nothing changed.
I had reached a point where I believed that none of the gods of the world were true. None had any power. I know people trust them; the gods of money and love and peaceful households and good harvests. All of the gods of the world. So many people believe in them, so many people worship them. And what do they do in return? Nothing. They're not able to do anything. They're not real. If you've ever wanted to put your trust in any of the gods of the world, don't bother. I've tried.
Then I started to hear about Jesus, the prophet of the God of the Jews. People said that Jesus used real power, and really did heal people of all kinds of diseases. I had become suspicious of all gods. And I'd never really believed in the God of the Jews. As a child, I'd joked with the other girls about the God of the Jews, who lived alone, and was neither male or female, but all people were supposed to be made in the image of the Jewish God. There were no images of the Jewish nGid, and we joked that this God was too ashamed of its appearance to be seen. Yet we knew the Jews held this God in very high regard, and were expecting this God to send them a king like their legenary King David to save them from the Romans. Some people said this Jesus was the king the Jewish God was sending.
Well, I thought, I had gone to every other god in the world, would I be lowering myself too much to go to the God of Jesus? Jesus was coming into Tyre. So I went out to speak to him. Jewish men don't speak to women. They don't speak to their own wives in public, so I couldn't expect much hope that he would speak to a Canaanite woman. But I went anyway, determined that if he and his God could help my daughtery they would.
So I went out to meet Jesus and called out to him: Son of David have pity on me. He ignored me at first, but I kept calling out. His friends told him to get rid of me, I was annoying them, and embarassing them. And finally, he spoke to me. He told me he wasn't there to help non-Jews, just the lost sheep of Israel.
I wasn't giving up that easily. I kept calling for help. He said he wasn't going to give the children's food to the dogs. Dog was I? Well, I'd be a dog If the Jews were right, then all people were made by their God, even the people the Jews themselves didn't like very much. I said, well, our dogs get the scraps from the table, so they do get a share of the children's food!
He looked at me strangely. I thought he was shocked that I'd answered back. Then he smiled.
You're right, he said. I was right I couldn't believe I'd won the argument so easily. I would have done anything to persuade him to save my daughter .
He said because of my faith, my daughter would be well. I'd never heard of an argument being described as faith before. Do you struggle with your God often? Does your God accept that as faith? To argue, to struggle, instead of simply offering sacrifices to buy acceptance?
That was it. He didn't cme and look at her or touch her. But I knew, as he said it, that she was all right. And when I went home, I had my lovely little girl back, just as she had been.
So here I am in your temple at Jerusalem. And I want to know how to worship this strange God of Jesus. Because when all the other gods the people of the world put their faith in failed. When I'd argued with this Jesus and thought he'd refuse to help: this God of Jesus saved my little girl.
Prayers of the People
God of all creation,
we pray for your world,
a world you made to your glory,
a world of many different people:
people with different languages
people with different cultures
people with different laws
people with different values.
People created in your image,
people created to be in relationship with you,
people made to be included in your family.
Like many families,
the family of your people in the world has problems,
there are people who don't want to be part of the family,
there are groups within the family fighting,
there are poeople who hurt each other – even those who should most be able to trust them,
there are people in the family who carry hurts they can't forgive and so can't be freed from them.
There are people in the family who don't share what they have,
and there are people in the family who don't have their needs met.
Yet all fo the people of the earth
are invited to be a part of your family,
and in Jesus, we are all able to join.
So we pray for your people, your world, your family,
and ask that you would heal the hurts of this world,
that you would bring the peace and harmony that only you can bring.
We pray for the members of your family
who gather here in this place
and who have special needs at this moment....
names from prayer points in newsletter.....
You know the special needs of all of these people
We ask that your surround them with your love,
give thems trength and hope and comfort,
In Jesus' name. Amen.
Hymn Together in Song 538 Feed us now, bread of life.
Service of Holy Communion (Uniting in Worship II page 162)
Hymn Together in Song 531 Sent forth by God's blessing