August 16, 2020, Pentecost 11

Prelude: Break Thou the Bread of Life,

Blessed be the holy Trinity, +one God, whose steadfast love is everlasting, whose faithfulness endures from generation to generation.                   Amen

Confession and Forgiveness:

Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God, whose steadfast love is everlasting, whose faithfulness endures from generation to generation. Amen.

Trusting in the mercy of God, let us confess our sin.  Reconciling God, we confess that we do not trust your abundance, and we deny your presence in our lives. We place our hope in ourselves and rely on our own efforts. We fail to believe that you provide enough for all. We abuse your good creation for our own benefit. We fear difference and do not welcome others as you have welcomed us. We sin in thought, word, and deed. By your grace, forgive us; through your love, renew us; and in your Spirit, lead us; so that we may live and serve you in newness of life. Amen.

 Absolution:  Beloved of God, by the radical abundance of divine mercy we have peace with God through ☩ Christ Jesus, through whom we have obtained grace upon grace. Our sins are forgiven. Let us live now in hope. For hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Amen

 Gathering Hymn: ELW 641 All Are Welcome

 Greetings: The grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. And also with you.


Have mercy on us, Lord, and hear our solemn prayer. We come to hear your living word; it saves us from despair.

Have mercy on us, Christ, and wash away our sin. Pour out your grace and make us whole that new life may begin.

Have mercy on us, Lord, make sun and shame depart. Renew us with your saving pow’r, create in us new hearts!

Prayer of the Day: Glorious God, your generosity waters the world with goodness, and you cover creation with abundance. Awaken in us a hunger for the food that satisfies both body and spirit, and with this food fill all the starving world; through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

 Selection of the Faithful: ELW 715 Christ, Be Our Light


First Reading: Isaiah 56:1, 6-8

1Thus says the Lord:
Maintain justice, and do what is right,
for soon my salvation will come,
and my deliverance be revealed.
6And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it,
and hold fast my covenant—
7these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.
8Thus says the Lord God,
who gathers the outcasts of Israel,
I will gather others to them
besides those already gathered.

Psalm: Psalm 67

1May God be merciful to us and bless us;
may the light of God’s face shine upon us.
2Let your way be known upon earth,
your saving health among all nations.
3Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
4Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity and guide all the nations on earth. 
5Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
6The earth has brought forth its increase;
God, our own God, has blessed us.
7May God give us blessing,
and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe. 

Second Reading: Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32

[Paul writes:] 1I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2aGod has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.
29For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, 31so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. 32For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. Jesus preached the good news of the kingdom* and cured every sickness among the people. Alleluia. (Matt. 4:23)

Gospel: Matthew 15:[10-20] 21-28

10[Jesus] called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand:11it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” 12Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” 13He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” 15But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” 16Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? 18But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. 19For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”]
21Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” 23But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” 24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 27She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Children’s Sermon: Here is a picture of an apple. What’s wrong with it? (It is rotten and a worm is eating through it.)   How did it happen?


Last week we pondered Jesus walking across the stormy sea, to meet the exhausted disciples madly rowing and despairing of life. They think he’s a ghost and Peter says, IF you are who you say you are, ask me to come to you. Jesus says “Come.” Today we will look more closely at who is invited to “come.”   Our text for today is found in the next chapter, chapter 15 of Matthew. Jesus starts: “Listen and understand.” Those are pretty strong words for starting a sermon. It throws me to two Sundays ago and the image of Jesus saying to the crowd of 5000+ – sit. Can you just see that little puppy dog, butt wiggling on the ground as the tail flaps, ears at attention, eyes focused on the master just waiting for the next word or command. For sure a treat is in the owner’s pocket. We are seated today but are we listening?

The introduction to the story that Matthew shares today is a lecture by Jesus on defilement, about rotten apples. What makes us defiled, spoiled, rotten? Jesus is standing in the presence of the Pharisees, (who want to be fair-you-see), and he is being grilled yet again about following the laws of Judaism, washing of hands before eating. Jesus looks at his disciples and us and says: Listen and understand. The purpose of the mouth is to eat, to breathe, to take in – and so food enters, gets digested and is pooped out. Eating food that is turning rotten while disgusting is not defiling. Eating with dirty hands while disgusting is not defiling. In Kenya as women talked, one of our favorite conversations was about what is good to eat. Every culture has dietary likes and dislikes, sanitation dos and don’ts. When we went to Kenya, the famine relief camp, and tried building a little cardboard house like the people so we could learn language, I was cooking over an open fire and Malcolm would exit the house and sit with our son, soooo offended by the smoke. When we had to eat matumbo – stomache, we almost lost one translator – not me. I would sift the wevils out of my flour and my houseworker would take them home to feed his family. For the Rendilli stomache and brain are super special food for super special occasions. Food is not what defiles us. As you can see Malcolm and I are here today and we did not have Montazuma’s revenge!

Jesus continues, it’s what comes out of our heart that shows how we have been defiled. How so? Let’s go back to our rotten apple. Why is that apple rotten? It has been left too long unattended, forgotten in the back of the refrigerator or at the bottom of the fruit bowl. Perhaps a worm has infested it. Perhaps it is sitting next to a rotten apple that has spread its rottenness. What’s our adage, “It only takes one rotten apple to spoil the barrel.” I would maintain that what defiles us does not come in by our mouth but comes in by our eyes or our ears, by other senses.

Do you hear our little friend on the shoulder whispering doubt into our minds and hearts? We focus on those seeds of jealousy, anger, envy, hurt and allow those things to fester in our souls. When we do not forgive, when we harbor hurt, there is a tendency, for me anyway, to say that cutting remark in an unguarded moment. I know you wouldn’t do it, but again, when I am tired and discouraged, something pops out of my mouth that I would prefer not be repeated and that I wish I could retract.

Our text goes on to share a scenario. Jesus and disciples go to a new area, non-Jewish where a foreigner, a Canaanite woman, pesters them with shouts for help for her daughter whom she believes is demon possessed. Jesus is confronted with someone the Jews would consider “defiles” through interaction. In this year of political elections, politicians make a big show of being friendly to everyone ie to people like you and me. They relate to all classes of society and brag about their ability to please everyone. In Jesus’ day it was not like that. No handshaking with lepers, with women, with…. It defiles. The disciples urge Jesus to move on and send her away. Do not defile yourself Jesus!

When Jesus speaks to the Pharisees, it is easy for us to identify as the good guys. We all know the Pharisees are the bad guys. But now Jesus has brought this discussion to the level of the disciples, his followers. Ummmm guys, I think that is us. Today we are challenged to ponder what or who it is that we feel defies us. Let’s look at this woman.

First, I note she is the wrong ethnicity, a foreigner but Jesus is in her territory. She is a woman that in those days made her second class. And she is being irritating, not following social protocol but shouting out for attention. But I also note she is not shouting out for temporary financial help, for things that do not satisfy but she is shouting out for mercy. “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David.” She is not pleading for food for her mouth but help for her soul. She is not pleading for a miracle. She is asking for mercy. Perhaps she feels she is guilty of something and blaming herself for her daughter’s plight? In any case, what is the cry of our heart today? Money, health, relationships or mercy?

She kneels at the foot of Jesus in total humility and respect. “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David.” Jesus is not just one of the many places she seeks help but she acknowledges his identity as Lord and as a son of David. Prayer is not just the routine she goes through at the start of her day, if it works – good – if not then no harm in trying. Jesus is her last and only resort because she acknowledges that he IS the voice that counts. Is Jesus our first box to tick or our only box?

Thirdly, Jesus points out the culturally accepted idea that this nameless woman is no more than a dog, unworthy to sit and eat with the disciples. Ouch! We would not like to hear that said today and I can see the protest groups forming. Today’s atmosphere would defend her humanity and her rights. She does not. She works the insult. Even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the masters’ table. We now add humility to her request. She seeks mercy respectfully and humbly, acknowledging and honoring Jesus. Jesus sums it up by honoring her faith and her prayer.

The woman while being everything that we might think would defile us in a social interaction, like spoiled food, in fact goes to the heart of God and from his mouth does not come condemnation and rejection but admiration and healing. She who has no name, who is considered a dog, goes down in history as someone who moved God’s heart and experienced his blessing personally.

I think this text challenges us to ask what we are putting in our souls today. What are we eating? Are we allowing old hurts and grudges to fester in our hearts? Are we listening to political commentaries centered on hate? Are we associating with things that bring rot to our attitudes? Perhaps we disguise it as just trying to help Jesus not be bothered, but the truth is that pride hurts as much as hate. The disciples were only trying to help Jesus. This woman challenges us to look at what we are seeking – mercy by persistent prayer, the improvement of our beloved neighbors or protecting our image, honoring God as God of all people who we are subject of his mercy. Are we willing to accept a crumb from his table believing that is truly enough or do we want the whole meal? Those are hard questions. Jesus saw this little lady being shuffled to the side. Jesus used her to teach us, the disciples. And Jesus honored her faith.

May our faith not be like that rotten apple, forgotten in the back of the refrigerator of our life, allowed to be eaten up by the worms of hurts and prejudice, nor infected with the bitterness of others. May we humbly cry out in our need, “Lord, son of David, have mercy on us.”

Hymn of Day: ELW 612 Healer of Our Every Ill

The Apostle’s Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate,  was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On   the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at  the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of  saints, the forgiveness of sIns, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Or you can listen to the Creed in vocal form:

Prayers of Intercession

Confident of your care and helped by the Holy Spirit, we pray for the church, the world, and all who are in need.

Lord, you gather the church to be part of your mission as ambassadors of Jesus Christ. As Jesus acknowledged the great faith of a woman from outside his people, help your church discover and find blessing in the faith of people we might reject. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You have blessed us with the bounty of the earth. Grant your grace to all your creatures, that the earth will flourish. Relieve waters choked by garbage, renew soils stripped of nutrients, and refresh the air all creatures need to live. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You call the nations to be glad and sing for joy. Let your way be known among all the nations of the world, now divided by competing interests, contending alliances, and consumed by enormous worry. Bless us and make your face shine upon all. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You show unexpected mercy, kindness, and generosity. We pray for those who do not have enough, for outcasts in our villages, cities, and town, and for those who need your healing. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

In you we live and move and have our being. Grant our congregation grace to find our life refreshed in you. Accompany us in the rhythms of late summer. Give us rest and renewal, and strengthen us for mission in your name. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 Your eternal promises are more than we could ever imagine. As you gather all the saints, join us also with them on the great day of your salvation. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

In the certain hope that nothing can separate us from your love, we offer these prayers to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 Peace: If you are worship with someone else, turn and share, “The peace of Christ be with you always.” Response, “And also with you.” You might use your finger to mark you children or loved one with a cross on their forehead. If you are practicing social distancing, put your palms together blessing of them. Peace!


Offering Prayer: God of goodness and growth, all creation is yours, and your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens. Water and word, wine and bread: these are signs of your abundant grace. Nourish us through these gifts, that we might proclaim your steadfast love in our communities and in the world, through Jesus Christ, our strength and our song. Amen.

 The Great Thanksgiving:

The Lord be with you. And also with you.

Lift up your hearts. We left them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give our thanks and praise.

 The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come. thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Communion: I invite you to talk a little piece of bread and eat it. Christ is as close to you as the bread in your mouth and stomach. Always remember. Now take a sip of your drink. Christ is as close to you as the blood in your body, strengthening you. Always remember.

Prayer after Communion: God of the welcome table, in this meal we have feasted on your goodness and have been united by your presence among us. Empower us to go forth sustained by these gifts so that we may share your neighborly love with all, through Jesus Christ, the giver of abundant life. Amen.


Blessing: Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. God, the creator, ☩ Jesus, the Christ, and the Holy Spirit, the comforter, bless you and keep you in eternal love. Amen.

Sending Hymn: ELW 886 Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing

Dismissal: Go in peace. Christ is with you. Thanks be to God.








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