St Mary’s West Acklam


 

August 16th (10th Sunday Trinity) 2020

 (Holy Communion Service in Church 10 a.m.)

 

PRAYER

Let your merciful ears,

O Lord, be open to the prayers of your humble servants;

and that they may obtain their petitions

make them to ask such things as shall please you;

through Jesus Christ you Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you, in

the unity of the holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

 

FIRST READING:  Isaiah 56: 1, 6-8


Thus says the Lord:  Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.  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— 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. Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.

 

SECOND READING:  Romans 11: 1-2a, 29-32


I 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. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.

 

GOSPEL READING: Matthew 15: 21-28


Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 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.’ 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.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

 

REFLECTION


Is Jesus always an attractive figure? In today’s Gospel reading, it looks like He is refusing to help the Canaanite woman, whose daughter was in a desperate situation, simply because she was a Canaanite rather than a Jew. Again, it looks rather like that by implication He is comparing the woman to a dog.


But imagine for a moment that you were a Jew in the crowd, hearing the woman’s shout. To such a person, what Jesus’ action was plain.  Jews took themselves to be God’s chosen race, and the Messiah whom they awaited was to save the Israelites – only them. The tribes of Israel were then like sheep lost without a shepherd. For the crowd, then, it was only proper that Jesus implied that the Israelites are His children and the woman was not.  As the same time, the crowds would be surprised that Jesus granted the woman’s plea and praised her faith.


Let us look again, this time from Canaanite woman’s point of view.  We know that she was definitely familiar with Jewish tradition, for she knew how to correctly call Jesus, ‘Lord, Son of David”, and so she knew too what kind of treatment she could expect, not only as a gentile but also as a gentile woman.  Yet as a mother she would do everything to save her daughter, and as a believer in God also had the faith to believe that He is merciful to those who call upon Him.


So we can understand the crowd and the Canaanite woman better. Yet something remains. What is happening in the passage is that the old, Jewish understanding of the Messiah is giving way to a new, Christian understanding. Jesus’ actions to this point in the narrative are consistent with His coming only for the lost tribes of Israel – but now, before a Jewish audience, there is a sudden, radical change. It emerges that even those whom Jews despised are to benefit from God’s grace.


 Perhaps this is why Jesus is so brusque with the woman. As St. John Chrysostom put it “the evangelist speaks against this woman, that He may show forth this marvellous act, and celebrate her praise the more.”   In our own time, Tom Wright interprets this narrative as being about how ‘the future keeps breaking in to the present – even as here seeming to catch Jesus Himself by surprise!’, that is to say a new message breaks in, supervening on the old one. What was for the tribes of Israel alone is now to be all nations. A gentile woman has broken through the crowd to demonstrate her faith in the mercy of God. 


This is a story with an unexpected beginning, quite contrary to what we like Jesus to be and to act.  It has an equally unexpected end, in which the salvation of God is bestowed on a gentile woman and her daughter.  The barriers between people, whether Jews and gentiles, rich and poor, male and female are broken by the love of God. It is essential for us to remember that Jesus’ dramatic change from being dismissive to praise to the woman demonstrates the love of God is for anyone and everyone.  No one is beyond and outside of Salvation.  

 

 

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION by David Dorman-Smith


 The Church of Christ

Lord, teach us again in your Church how to be your servants today. Teach us to do your will and walk in your way with humility, care, and true joy. In the crowded agenda of the work of the Church, beset on all sides by meetings without number, let us not lose sight of your truth. Give us the lifeline of your Spirit, an injection of hope. Replenish us with your vision. Renew us with hope of transformative action. Renew us with a sense of your purpose

 

Lord give us grace to be your hands and feet: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

The world around us

For the greening of the woodland, for the grains of harvest, for the fruits of creation, we give you thanks. Lord of all good gifts, in the work of so many people day by day, we touch a mystery unsearchable and wonderful, the marvel of everyday. And you Lord are constant and faithful, abundant in steadfast love, passionate and limitless in the giving of yourself to us and your world. May all people in every sphere of life marvel at the beauty of your creation and recognise their own individual responsibility to act as partners in creation.

 

Lord give us grace to be your hands and feet: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

The local community

Lord as we pray for our own communities, help us to celebrate the wisdom that is found is the older generation, and the energy and zest for life that can be found amongst the young.

We pray for those who care for those who have lost their independence and need care and support, remembering local care homes and Teesside Hospice. We pray for those committed to working with the young and who nurture their curiosity and we hold before you local uniformed groups and our own youth group. We pray for those who are facing uncertainty following receiving their exam results this week. May they be supported and be able to secure a path forward.

 

Lord give us grace to be your hands and feet: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

Those who suffer

Lord, fill us we pray with the love that heals, the love that forgives, the love that longs to be given away. Show us the love that grows that we might in turn grow in love and give us an understanding of the sufferings of others. Breath of God, be our life this day and show the meaning of compassion. Breath of God, flow where there is hurt and hatred, flow into places of distress and darkness, despair and desolation. Flow we pray amongst the people of Beirut as they come to terms with so much destruction and loss of life; Flow through the people of Belarus as they demand justice; comfort those who remain in refugee camps while the attention of the world moves elsewhere.

 

Breath of God flow through us to those around us and we pray for those we know personally or those for whom we have been asked to pray.

 

Lord give us grace to be your hands and feet: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

For those who have died

For some of your children Lord God, the day you gave on earth has ended. We pray for those who have gone before us, that they may rest in peace and rise to a new dawn in which they are united with you.

 

Lord give us grace to be your hands and feet: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 

As our Saviour taught us so we pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven…

 

 

BLESSING


The God of grace and glory, restore, strengthen, guide you;

And the blessing of God Almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always.


Amen.