Carolyn’s Sermon for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost – 9/9/12

Sermon Pentecost 15 year B

Grace to you and peace from God our Creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

We all have our favorite foods.  Some of us like pizzas and some of us like hamburgers. The food network has a show called “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”.  It features the biggest food stars and chefs from their cooking shows.

They tell you what their favorite food is and feature the restaurant where you can find it.  Sometimes they show main dishes like steaks and barbecue.  Sometimes they feature deserts.

What is your favorite food?  I am taking about the food that you would eat every day if it were healthy.  The thing you would ask for all the time and hope there were leftovers.  The food that makes your mouth water just to think about it.  The food that you always eat the very last bite of – then wish you could lick your plate?

Altar Flowers to celebrate Carolyn and Dave’s 32nd Wedding Anniversary.

Maybe it is your grandma’s oatmeal cookies or chocolate cake, or sour cream raisin pie.

I am very fond of cookies, but one of may favorite things is Nutella, that chocolate hazelnut spread.  It is good on bread and crackers and even, of course, cookies.  I like it so much I don’t let any of it go to waste.

I admit it.  I lick the knife when I am done.  Even if I have a large new jar in the cupboard, which I usually do, I take a little scraper and get every last bit out of the old jar before I wash and recycle it.  The stuff is that good.

I am sure there is something you like that much.  Something that is just too tasty to let any of it go to waste.  You may even take your finger and get all the crumbs off your plate when no one is looking.  If someone is looking, you use your fork.  Even the crumbs are delicious.

The gospel of grace is even better than that – even better than your favorite food.  There is always more than enough with plenty of leftovers and even the crumbs are delicious.

Today’s gospel story tells us about crumbs and about Jesus changing his mind, but it is really about God’s grace.

A foreign woman comes to Jesus begging him to heal her sick child.  He initially tries to send the woman away. He tells the woman that the time isn’t right yet. He came first to teach and preach and heal the children of Israel.  Those were the boundaries of his mission.   Yet this woman changes his mind.

We should not be concerned that Jesus changes his mind.  There are many stories in the Old Testament about God being persuaded to do something different.  And after all, don’t we talk to Jesus ourselves and ask for things to be different?

Jesus changes his mind.  He gives the woman what she asks for and heals her daughter.  He is persuaded by her logic.  This is a turning point in his ministry. From there on, he goes to teach and preach and heal to the Gentiles as well as the Jews.

Jesus had boundaries in his ministry at the beginning.  He said he was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.   Then he encountered this foreign woman and changed his mind. He expanded the boundaries of his ministry.

Jesus no longer went only to preach and teach and heal the children of Israel.  He went to Gentile areas.  He preached to foreigners.  He healed their children.  He taught them about the love and grace of God.

He taught them that God’s grace is abundant.  There is always more than enough with plenty of leftovers and even the crumbs are delicious.

After he heals the woman’s daughter, Jesus heals another foreigner.  He opens the ears and releases the tongue of a man who was born deaf.  This miracle is more than just a healing though.  It is more than just restoring hearing and speech to one Gentile man.

This miracle is a promise to us as well.  It is God’s promise to remove every obstacle that separates us from God’s love and abundant grace.

This miracle is a promise to open our deaf ears.  When our ears are open we will be able to hear our neighbors.  We may hear things we don’t want to hear. We may hear that our neighbors are in need of our help.  We may even hear that our neighbors can help us.

This miracle is a promise to unlock our tongues.  We will be able to speak up when we need to speak.  We will be able to share the gospel of abundant grace where there is always more than enough with plenty of leftovers.

This miracle is a promise to open our eyes.  When our eyes are open we will be able to see beyond the boundaries we used to have.  We will be able to see that the people we thought were strangers and foreigners are also God’s children.

This miracle is a promise to open our minds.  When our minds are open we will learn many new things.  We will be amazed at the greatness and mercy of our loving and gracious God. We may even change our minds like Jesus did and realize that God is greater and more gracious than we previously thought.

It is a promise to open our hearts.  When God opens our hearts, God fills us with love and grace.  This abundant love and grace will overflow from our hearts into the world.

This miracle is a promise to unlock our doors.  When our doors are open we will welcome everyone that Jesus welcomed.

Just when we think we know what the boundaries are, God pushes them farther away.  And God keeps pushing them away until they aren’t there at all.  The gospel of grace is not limited.  Jesus feeds everybody. We all get more than crumbs.

There are plenty of leftovers because the love of God in Jesus Christ never runs out.  There is more than enough for everyone. Jesus feeds us with the Bread of Life, his own body.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Amen.

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