Prayers and Readings for Tenth Sunday after Trinity

16th August 2020

A video of this service (25 min) is available.

Praise God! for the Lord our God the almighty reigns! Let us rejoice and give thanks and give him the glory.

Confession

Jesus says, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’ So let us turn away from sin and turn to the Lord, confessing our sins in penitence and faith. Lord God, we have sinned against you; we have done evil in your sight. We are sorry and repent. Have mercy on us according to your love. Wash away our wrongdoing and cleanse us from our sin. Renew a right spirit within us and restore us to the joy of your salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. May almighty God, who sent his Son into the world to save sinners, bring you his pardon and peace now and for ever. Amen.

Collect

Gracious Father, Lord of heaven and earth, as Jesus taught his disciples to be persistent in prayer, give us patience and courage never to lose hope, but always to bring our prayers before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading:
Isaiah 56: 1, 6-8
Gospel Reading:
Matthew 15: 21-28

Reflection by Jill Leonard

This morning’s Gospel is to me one of the most uncomfortable reads in the Gospels. The depiction we find of Jesus in the first few verses is not of a mild man full of compassion for His fellow man but rather someone who is arrogant, obstructive and dare I say racist.

It is so easy to take a passage from the Bible and just read it but this, as with this morning’s reading can be dangerous as we don’t know the circumstances behind the action.

This passage comes just as the tide is starting to turn against Jesus by the leaders of the country. At the beginning of Chapter Fifteen He decides to challenge the teaching of the elders who are trying to elevate their teachings to Scriptural status and He’s not having it! So, having thoroughly upset the apple cart He flees. He flees north to Tyre and Sidon where the people were of mixed nationalities and was commonly known as bandit country. Completely out of His or the disciples comfort zones. In Mark’s account of this story we find a bit more information. Mark’s account tells us Jesus took refuge in a house hoping that His presence would go unnoticed, that there would be no expectation from the Gentile population. Was it that He needed the seclusion that this would give Him? His timing is significant.

But, as so often happens, people who are desperate will glean information in order to find hope as is the case with the Canaanite woman. Her daughter is sick and she has heard that Jesus has arrived and she comes looking for Him to help her. Here are Jesus and the disciples in a foreign region, outside of their comfort zones, and a frantic woman! A Gentile woman at that! All the social rules are being broken. Jesus doesn’t react at all rather He leaves that to the disciples. They in their turn decide Jesus doesn’t want to be bothered but all Jesus says is ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel’. At a first glance you might be forgiven for thinking that He was agreeing with them and their racist, exclusive position but He isn’t and He doesn’t do as they ask, He doesn’t send her away instead He starts the conversation that will lead to everyone’s spiritual growth. He is being very clever.

This is a strong woman Jesus is dealing with and just as well because He really sets out to challenge and test her faith and knowledge. She responds to His taunts coming back at Him saying that even the dogs eat the crumbs from their masters’ table. She is challenging both Jesus and the abundance of God’s grace. Finally, convinced of her faith Jesus gives way and her wish is granted but who has really won?

Yes the woman has got what she wanted for her daughter but has she changed? There is no question that the woman has changed rather she asked Jesus to reach out and meet her where she was. And Jesus seemingly enlarges the boundaries of His mission to encompass outsiders. There is no question of her accepting any pre-set mission boundaries and that is what is so radical in this passage.

It would appear that Jesus and the disciples were prepared to learn and embrace the difference, be challenged by it and allow themselves to grow through the cross-cultural interaction.

Shouldn’t we be prepared to learn from others and enlarge our own vision of mission and ministry?

During the pandemic we have taken our practices into new spaces. We have learnt the value of sharing our belief across multiple platforms and this accessibility has made it less scary for people who are searching for faith to join in. Now perhaps we need to look further at how we can provide an environment where people feel they can ask questions or indeed share their doubts without fear.

One thing is certain we like Jesus and the disciples have to be prepared for change after all isn’t that what faith is all about?

Creed

Let us affirm together our common faith in Jesus Christ. Do you believe and trust in God the Father, source of all being and life, the one for whom we exist? I believe and trust in Him. Do you believe and trust in God the Son, who took our human nature, died for us and rose again? I believe and trust in Him. Do you believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God and makes Christ known in the world? I believe and trust in Him. This is the faith of the Church. This is our faith. We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Prayers

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

Blessing

The God of grace and glory restore, strengthen and guide you; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always. Amen. Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God. Amen.