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Narrative Sermon and Liturgy for Ordinary 20 - Proper 15 - Year A
Isaiah 56:1-8; Matthew 15:21-28
"Crumbs From The Table"

READING: Isaiah 56:1-8; Matthew 15:21-28 SERMON : "Crumbs From The Table" Rev. Richard J. Fairchild a-or20sesu 845000 The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon for the upcoming Sunday. Hymn numbers, designated as VU are found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United". SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC. The Prayers of Dedication The Benediction are taken and modified from John Maynard's (maynard@SYMPAC.COM.AU) "Prayers and Litanies for Ordinary 20" as sent to the PRCL-List, August 1999). For information on our approach to Narrative Sermons please go to Narrative Sermons For The Revised Common Lectionary GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE (* = please stand) * ENTRANCE & CANDLE LIGHTING * WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP (based on Isaiah 56:6-8) L The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. P And also with you. L Foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord, to serve him, to love the name of the Lord and to worship him; P All who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant; L These will I bring to my holy mountain and give my joy in my house of prayer. P Their offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my alter; my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. * INTROIT: "Holy, Holy, Holy" (VU-315, verse 1) * PRAYER OF INVOCATION: Let us Pray - Most Holy God, we thank you for you for your love and for your mercy and for your forgiveness and your grace. We thank you for your strength and for your tenderness, and for your compassion and your power. We worship you for your greatness and your glory, and for your beauty and your righteousness. Be with us today that you may hear our praise and look with favour upon our hearts and our minds as we lift up our hands in prayer to you. We ask it in the most wonderful name of Jesus Christ your Son, he who is our Saviour and our Lord. Amen. * HYMN: "All People That On Earth Do Dwell" - VU 822 ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS Gathering in of prayer joys and concerns. INTROIT For The Word of God (please stay seated): Open my ears, that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear; and while the wave notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear. Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see. Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine! (VU 371 v.2 & refrain) A READING FROM ISAIAH 56:1-8 (NRSV) Thus says the LORD: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. Happy is the mortal who does this, the one who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it, and refrains from doing any evil. {3} Do not let the foreigner joined to the LORD say, "The LORD will surely separate me from his people"; and do not let the eunuch say, "I am just a dry tree." {4} For thus says the LORD: To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, {5} I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. {6} And 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-- {7} these 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. {8} Thus says the Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered. L This is the word of the Lord. P Thanks be to God. THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY BAPTISM -- Introductory Comments -- Presentation and Statement of Intention -- Promise of The Parents and The People -- Profession of Faith (The New Creed) -- Blessing of Water and Baptism - Presentation and Prayer HYMN: "Child of Blessing, Child of Promise" - VU 444 A READING FROM MATTHEW 15:21-28 (NRSV) Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. {22} Just 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." {23} But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us." {24} He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." {25} But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." {26} He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." {27} She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." {28} Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly. L This is the gospel of our Risen Lord. P Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ. * HYMN: "Let There Be Light" - VU 679 SERMON: "Crumbs From The Table" Let us Pray: Breathe on us, O God, that we may be filled with your Spirit - and led by your living word - Jesus Christ our Lord. Bless the word of my lips and the meditations of our hearts. We ask it in his name. Amen. Every now and then, rather than doing a what I call an ordinary sermon where I take the Bible passages for the day and attempt with God's help to find in them the Word that we need to hear, I instead take the Bible passage, generally a story, or a parable, and retell it as a story. In doing so I ask myself - and hope that you will ask yourselves what was the event like? what were the people in it thinking about? what happened and why did it happen that way? How is God found in the story? Stories help us to use our imagination, they help us to hear what God is saying to us, and when we listen and wonder as did our ancestors by their fires and in their temples and synagogues, the Holy Spirit helps us to hear what it is God is saying. Today - I offer to you such a story, and, prayerfully, you will hear in it the word of God for you this day. It is the story which I call Crumbs From the Table. Relax and listen. --------------- She didn't belong there. I knew it and the rest of us knew it. We were just sitting down to dinner when she barged in. The dogs woke up immediately and from their place under the table they began to bark. One of the children started to cry as the woman frantically looked around the room. I was startled and I stood up immediately. I could feel myself beginning to get angry as I look at this dishevelled and dirty woman. John and James, who had been sitting near the door had leapt up at the same time I had - and they were already reaching out to stop from the woman from coming closer to the table when she spotted the master. "Lord, Son of David" - she cried out as they moved in front of her, "Have mercy on me! My daughter is sick. She is suffering terribly from demon possession..." The master must of heard her over the noise of the two dogs and the child, but he never said a word. He didn't even look up from his plate. By this time not only John and James, but I and three others had surrounded the woman and we began to hustle her out the door. She was interrupting not only our meal, but the time that Jesus had specially set aside for teaching us about the Kingdom he was going to establish. We had no intention of letting her get in the way of that. The woman struggled a bit, but she didn't have a chance. Hauling nets gives a person a lot of strength, and she was outnumbered. We got her outside even more quickly than a bouncer gets a drunk out of a tavern. But let me tell you, once outside, she caused just as much trouble as a drunk does. She was loud and insistent. She tried to get by us and to get back inside. She kept on saying to us that she had to see the miracle worker, that her daughter was in terrible shape, that she needed help. She must of clutched at and grabbed each and every one of us as she pleaded. I tell you, she was a real pain. I just wanted to get back inside for dinner. James tried to reason with her. "Look", he said, "You have no right to be here. You've got no right to bother the teacher. You are a foreigner, you don't believe in anything we believe in, your people are gentiles, they are heathens, and your behaviour shows that you are too. There is no way the master is going to help you, so please go away." "I've got to see him", she said, "I know he can help me. He has done so much for others." "That may be", James said, "but he's not going to do anything for you. You are not only a woman, you are a Canaanite, You don't go to the synagogue, You don't obey the law of Moses, You are unclean, You eat forbidden food. To make matters worse... you have absolutely no respect. Jesus is trying to eat. He is a guest in another man's home, and this is supposed to be a special time for us all, And you just barge in and start demanding help! Listen! Please! Go away! You are not going to get help here." You know what she did? That wretched woman just shook her head and said: "I know he will help me, he's got to help me!" John butted in, "Look", he said, "Go away. We've told you that your not welcome here. We've told you that Jesus isn't going to have anything to do with your type. So why don't you just get lost." I tell you she was a crazy woman. She didn't know her place, that's for sure. The more we said to her, the louder and more persistent she was. She cried, she begged, she screamed. There was no reasoning with her. After a few minutes of this I got the idea of asking Jesus to tell her to go away. I figured that if he said something to her she'd get the picture and stop her infernal racket. I mentioned the idea to a couple of the others and they agreed that it was the only thing to do if we were going to have any peace. As soon as I opened the door to go in the dogs began barking again. Someone hissed at them to be quiet as I went over to Jesus. He was sitting with the child who had cried earlier and eating and talking with our host. Our host looked a little embarrassed. He was trying to pretend that nothing was going on - but the woman was standing just outside the open door where my two mates were waiting for the word and the noise level was none too low. "Excuse me", I said to the Master, "could you please tell that woman to go away. She is really pestering us with all her crying and carrying on." Jesus look at his host, then at me, and said -- "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." -- I tell you, Jesus was really frustrating at times. He never seemed to give a straight answer to a simple question. But even so, this time he was backing us up. It was like he had heard everything we had said to the woman, so I turned to tell the wretched woman that the master had told her to go away. Just as I was turning around, she squeezed by the guys at the door and ran over to right beside the master, and fell on down on her knees at his feet. "Lord, help me", she said. I didn't do a thing. I was tired. I figured after what he had said Jesus would handle it just fine. And he did. Jesus looked at her at his feet. She bowed her head and looked down. Then he looked around the room for a moment. The child beside him was busy eating a piece of bread as if nothing untoward had happened. The dogs were nuzzling around under the table. Our host was staring at him, no doubt wondering what Jesus was going to do to get rid of this problem. John and James and the others were all inside by this point. They were still standing, waiting to see if they were going to be needed again. It became very quiet in the room as the master looked around, the only sounds were those of the flies and of the child eating. Then Jesus looked down at the woman and said to her "It is not right to take the children's bread and to toss it to their dogs" -- A couple of the disciples smiled. I must confess that I grinned too. It was such a well turned phrase. The kind that only Jesus seemed to be able to come up with. It made the point well. As far as I was concerned, it certainly disposed of her and all of her kind. I caught James looking at me and began to nod my head at him. As I did so the woman looked up at Jesus and stared him in the eyes. "Yes Lord", she said to him in this incredibly calm and clear voice, and I swear to you she had this little smile on her face, "Yes Lord", she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table." I was stunned. The woman really was too much. Lippy, rude, obnoxious, unclean, disrespectful, I could go on! Anyway - do you know what Jesus did? He smiled at her, as if it was all some great contest of wits and he said to her "Woman, you have great faith, For your reply, your request is granted. Go home, you daughter is healed." I just could not understand it. I mean why in the world did Jesus do that? She did not belong there. She was not one of us. She was nothing but a Canaanite Jesus knew it, I knew it, and the rest of us knew it. I just don't understand Jesus sometimes. I just don't understand.... PRAYER OF THE DAY Holy God, help us to understand. Loving Lord, help us to understand that there is not one of us who deserves even the crumbs that fall from Your table -- yet you grant to us all: Jew and Gentile - young and old - rich and poor - black white sinner and saint - the bread of life. May we always praise your most holy name through Christ Jesus.... Lord, hear our prayer... Loving God, help us to not only understand, but to pass your love on to others. Give us eyes to see you, ears to hear you, hearts to love you, lips to proclaim you, and hands to serve you... Lord, hear our prayer... Lord God, we erect so many barriers as individuals and as a society. We shut others out and disbar ourselves by how we react to the words of our neighbours. We pray thee - give us the energy and the will to tear down the walls that divide us from one another and from you... Lord, hear our prayer... Hear our prayers today O God for those who are dispossessed - for those who are aliens and refugees in our land and for those who are poor and neglected in every land... Lord, hear our prayer... Listen as well O God to the intentions and desires of our hearts, those things we have shared before your people and those which we have stored up in our hearts alone..... Lord hear our prayers for.... (names here).... We ask you to hear all our prayers, O God, in the name of the one who taught us to pray to you as one family, saying... OUR FATHER * HYMN: "Walls That Divide" - VU 691 * SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all stand for the Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer of Dedication O God, we go forth to serve You, wherever Christ calls us. Bless our endeavours to make His name known. Accept the gifts we offer - both here in the sanctuary of your presence - and in the world to which we go. May all that we do be unto Your glory through Christ our Lord. AMEN. * DEPARTING HYMN: "God Of Grace, God of Glory" - VU 686 * COMMISSIONING (Unison): In the power of the Holy Spirit we now go forth into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body of Christ. * BENEDICTION AND THREEFOLD AMEN Go in peace, May God be merciful and bless you. May God look on you with kindness, May God so work in your lives - that the world around you may know God's will, - and render praise unto God's name on account of you. Amen. * THREEFOLD AMEN & CHORAL BLESSING: "Go Now In Peace" - VU 964 copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 1996 - 2005 please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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