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Jesus and the Canaanite Woman (Matthew 15:21-28)

Now here’s a disturbing story. Jesus encounters a Gentile, called Syrophoenician in the gospel of Mark, a Canaanite here in Matthew, whose daughter is in need of healing. The woman keeps on entreating Jesus, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David,” indicating she clearly understands that Jesus is the Messiah promised by the scriptures. Instead of helping her, Jesus at first ignores her, then lets her know he did not come to be the Messiah for people like her. This doesn’t sound like the Jesus we know, does it? What’s going on here?
A couple of things to note. First, the gospel of Mark has it right in terms of identifying her nationality. In Jesus’ time, Gentiles from this area were known as Syrophoenicians. The term “Canaanite” had not been used for centuries. It would be like describing a person from Great Britain as an Anglo Saxon, or a Celt, terms long since obsolete. But the word “Canaanite” has theological overtones. The Canaanites were those who lived in the Promised Land prior …

August 2, 2017 -- Preaching the Gospel this Sunday – Matthew 14:13-21

Last week, I began this blog by discussing what it means to preach the gospel. I argue that the gospel is always what God does: for us, in us, through us for the sake of the world. Only when people know that God is for us, with us, working through us, saving us, loving us, can we freely give our lives for others.
So, how would you preach the gospel this week? The Revised Common Lectionary uses the story of the feeding of 5,000 (actually, more like 10,000, but more on that later) from Matthew. Where is the gospel here? I am struck by two things: Jesus compassion for the crowds, and Christ’s ability to take the little the disciples had to offer and make it enough for the need of all. Jesus has just learned of the death of John the Baptist. He no doubt is grieving the death of this man of God, and perhaps his disciples too are shaken to know that John was beheaded by Herod. (According to the gospel of John, some of the disciples originally were followers of John. But even for those who…
Preaching the Gospel For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, "The one who is righteous will live by faith." – Romans 1:16-17
Welcome to my blog. I plan to post here with some regularity my thoughts and prayerful reflections on congregational life and where the synod is headed. You may respond and even disagree with me, but I ask that you do so respectfully and kindly. Rachel Line will monitor responses. If there are any she feels go over the line, she will delete them. But generating discussion about the work of God in the Pacifica Synod strikes me as a good thing, so feel free to share your thoughts and opinions.
At this year’s Synod Assembly, I asked “What do congregations need?” in order to fulfill their mission and ministry. I responded to the question by stating, in my opinion, church…