Sunday, September 06, 2015

Car Wash Lessons

Original Painting by T. L. Eastman
Car Wash Welcome…
A few days ago I was driving down Sheridan Drive when I saw a free car wash taking place. There were tons of children and teenagers waving their arms, cheering and calling to invite the drivers to pull off the road and get their free car wash. I have to say that I was impressed with the energy and the enthusiasm of the car washers. They did not care what kind of car you drove or even how dirty it was. They just wanted to say hello, wash your car and brighten your day. The free car wash was not for the purpose of just washing cars, but its purpose was to help to connect people and build a sense of community.
Being a part of a caring, inclusive community is something that is important to most everyone. We all have a desire to connect with others, know that they know us and that our presence in that community makes a difference.
Both of the healing stories in today’s gospel draw my mind into the concept of “community living”.  The woman seeking healing for her daughter was a gentile – and as Jesus initial response shows – was not part of the Jewish community.  The second account of healing also takes place in a Greek community that would have been overseen by Roman rule. The man is a gentile in a gentile community, but his inability to hear or speak clearly would have isolated him from others in that community. The gentile woman, her daughter and the deaf man from Decapolis were well aware of what it was like to live as outsiders or strangers in a community that did not embrace them.
“In Mark’s gospel, we witness a remarkable turning point in Jesus ministry. While Jesus believed that God’s reign would eventually extend to all people, the primary focus of his ministry has thus far been to people of Israel. But an encounter with a nameless Gentile woman changes things, and eventually turns into now!” (Jennifer Lord, Sunday and Seasons)
Even though the woman and the man in these healing stories were not part of the community of Jesus, they persisted in seeking out Jesus for help and healing. The woman persisted in seeking healing for the benefit of her daughter – and her daughter is healed – but she also helps Jesus to grow in his own understanding of whom he was called to serve. Jesus gains insight with the help of this unnamed woman who helps turn on the fullness of God’s message for the whole world. With the help of this woman, Jesus has a light bulb moment!
" Jesus suddenly realizes in a very practical way that he is not only called to minister to people from his own race and background - but to all people from all backgrounds."
This lesson shows me - that all us, including Jesus, need light bulb moments to refocus our vision for mission with and to all people.
This morning as we sang our hymn of praise, we joined together as a community of faith singing these words… 
Come, all you people,
come and praise the Most High; 
Come now and worship the Lord.
Imagine for a moment if this morning we had set up a loud speaker to proclaim this invitation outside the walls of our church and down the west and east ends of Sheridan Drive. Even better, imagine if we stood out on the sidewalk this morning singing and waving to the people passing by.
Come, all you people,
come and praise the Most High;
Come now and worship the Lord.
How might it feel to sharing Christ’s good news in such a bold and public way? Would it be scary? Might it be fun? While I realize there are differences between inviting people to a car wash and inviting them to worship, I think there is something to be learned from the energy and enthusiasm I witnessed seeing the car wash on Sheridan Drive. My own light bulb was lit by the calling to share God’s message of good news with ALL people.
There are many people in the world who feel like they don’t belong or are not a part of a family or community group. We have a God that invites ALL PEOPLE to belong – to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
As the body of Christ, we sometimes become comfortable knowing that we already are a part of the community. We already identify ourselves as the “people of God”. The fact that we are here together today is a wonderful gift. But for those who are not yet a part of a community of faith, what do you think hearing this invitation to “Come now and worship the Lord” might feel like? God’s enthusiastic welcome to all people is wonderful, amazing and much needed good news.

So then… how might we go about sharing God’s good news with ALL PEOPLE?

One way to consider how to share God’s good news requires us to think about the unique gifts God has given each one of us. Parker Palmer once wrote, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Where do you see deep hunger? What is your great joy?
Consider how it is possible that you are called to use your gifts to share God’s message of good news. Your joy light bulb is needed out there in the world's deep need.

Sunday's text for September 6, 2015
Mark 7:24-37New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith
24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre.[a] He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 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.” 28 But she answered him, “Sir,[b] even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Jesus Cures a Deaf Man
31 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. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus[c] ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

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