Monday, 13 August 2012

We are all called to be preachers: sermon on Matthew 15:21-28

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.  A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”  The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.  He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”  “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”  Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Tpday I have prepared a sermon on the lectionary text from the gospel of Matthew; but I have also been given in prayer the theme of "we are all called to be preachers" which stems from the fact that today we remember Dominic the priest who founded the order of preachers and died today in 1221.  I trust that God has something to tell us in the latter and therefore will be weaving the two together; I hope you can bare with me.

The caananite woman had the faith to cry out Help Me; she did not doubt and whisper quietly; she did not hope that everything would come out OK.  No, she demanded help from Jesus and she demanded it directly.  And when she was blocked by the disciples and by Jesus himself she didn't give up.  No, she kept on asking and demanding and being an annoyance until finally she could be ignored no more.

Do we have the faith and perseverence and trust in healing to do the same? 
I'm not sure I do, or at least I know for a fact that I didn't before I went to Zambia and I think that even now I am not trusting enough to truly ask knowing it could happen.  But why do I doubt?  What is that about?  I am failing in my part when I doubt; because our part is the asking in faith and certain knowledge that all is possible.  We just need to ask.

In this passage we also have to face the fact that the disciples and even Jesus turned their back on this woman and her daughter in her need.  From all the commentaries it is clear that Jesus was not actually turning his back but was proving a point and challenging the disciples; he knew that this woman would not give up and he allowed this to teach a valuable point about being there for everyone.  But still, the disciples turned their back and denied that she was worthy of help; she wasn't part of their plan. 

Do we turn our backs on those who aren't in our plan?  When we set out to do God's work to we become blind to those who need our help and who we could walk alongside?  Do we even offer the crumbs?  For example; do we share our experiences of church with our friends and family?  Do we talk about Jesus and what he means to us?  Do we share our prayers and the answering of those prayers with those who do not share our faith?

Dominic called for preachers to share the good news of Jesus.  He produced an order of preachers which focussed on this; but he also enabled and required everyone to preach the good news.  Neil, Maureen, Libby, David and I are licensed to preach in church; but we are all called to preach to those in our lives.  We are called to share the good news of Jesus in the world; this is the very least we can do as we share the crumbs from our table.

As you leave here today I challenge you to share your faith and love of Jesus with someone who you've never shared with before.  It doesn't have to be an evangelical conversion; just a small sharing, a gift of Jesus to another.  Do not turn your back, offer what you have to those in need.  Amen.

For Information:
I never write out my sermons in advance, or at least it's very rare; instead I make many pages of notes and research, write out mind maps and bullet points and finally prepare a one page diagram to have as a prompt if needed. I know what I intend to say, I know what my key points are and I let the Holy Spirit work in me and bring the words that are needed. When I pray "may I speak in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" I trust that it WILL happen. This sermon was even more complicated since I was tieing together the lectionary reading from Matthew with the messages from Dominic (found of preachers) which I was given in prayer in the morning. These words are those which I think I said when all was gathered together on the day.

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