Monday, August 31, 2009

Gnaw on This ... The Gospel for This Sunday

The Gospel isn't just to be gulped down on Sunday morning, but gnawed on throughout the week so it really becomes a part of us. Here's the Gospel for this Sunday (and some notes and more "food for thought"). You can click here to find all the readings for this Sunday.

Mark 7:24-37

Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." But she answered him, "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." Then he said to her, "For saying that, you may go-- the demon has left your daughter." So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, "He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak."

Where is this in Mark's Gospel?
This immediately follows last Sunday's reading where Jesus tangles with the Pharisees about his disciples not following purity laws. Here he's breaking more barriers -- and even bigger ones -- associating with, healing and even touching people who are unclean.

A few things to chew on:
*The Syrophoenician woman argues with Jesus, comes back at him even after he insults her (he calls her a dog!). Sparring with God is nothing new in scripture - think of Jacob wrestling with the angel and Abraham bargaining with God in Genesis. All three examples lead to closer relationship with God. How has a "good fight" been a part of your relationship with God? Can you think of a time when a "good fight" has been an important part of a relationship with a spouse/partner, friend, child, etc? How can we help each other not to shy away from those fights but to have them well?

*The man who was deaf and had a speech impediment had two conditions that cut him off from full participation in the community. That means Jesus' healing wasn't just making him right physically but restoring relationship. What are the "impediments" in your relationships with each other? What kind of healing do you need?

*Mark says: "Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it." What's the last thing you remember being that excited about? What makes your heart sing with joy? When was the last time you were truly astounded and filled with wonder?

Try this:
Find a quiet place each morning when you get up and take one minute in silence. Hear God saying the words of Jesus to you, "Be Opened." Just sit with that for one minute. Hear it. Then as you lie down to sleep at night, review the day and think of experiences of God you were able to have because you were open to them ... and ones you might have missed because you weren't.

Feasting on the Gospel together -- Sunday at 9 am in Schuyler Hall
The Syrophoenician woman argued with Jesus. She just couldn't understand why he was saying the things he was saying. Why they were so hurtful. This Sunday we're going to talk about what questions we would love to ask Jesus. What things we just don't understand and would like to argue with him about. Come grab a cup of coffee with us at 9 am on Sunday in Schuyler Hall and hang out with us as we kick it around.

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