Good Morning! Welcome to this mornings joint service.
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The Message today is from Neil Jones
God Bless x
Message - Neil Jones
Jesus looks at what is on our hearts. Sometimes our current use of the word looks at the heart as the centre of emotion but at the time of Jesus the heart was seen as the core of someone - the centre of reason, understanding and emotion.
At the start of the reading Jesus finds himself in trouble (yet again) with the religious leaders. This time he had failed the follow the elaborate hand washing customs of the time. This is an ironic reading in our current climate with hand sanitizers outside our shops and the emphasis on hand washing on Government adverts and websites. However, these rules were a matter of pure ritual and nothing to do with hygiene.
Then we see the conversation between Jesus and the Canaanite woman. The events occur outside Jewish areas in modern day Lebanon. It is likely that Jesus took his disciples there for some quality time away from the crowds and to start to prepare them for what was to come - the journey to Jerusalem and his death and resurrection. Then a woman with a sick daughter started appealing for his attention and help - clearly his reputation had gone beyond Jewish areas. The disciples seemed to want to get rid of her seeing a nuisance and asked Jesus to send her away.
Jesus seemed reluctant to help at first coming out with some unfriendly remarks - I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel and its is not right to take the children's bread and give it to the dogs. However, the discussion continues and unlike the religious leaders she engages in meaningful dialogue. Shepoints to the way pet dogs ate the scraps from the owner's table - something you who have dogs may relate to. Surely she could receive something? Jesus was someone who often mixed with outcasts and Samaritans and therefore his remarks are not easy to understand. Did he change his mind or was he aiming to draw her out? Whatever happened Jesus looked at her and saw someone of great faith and someone in need. In compassion her request was granted and her daughter was healed.
The woman seemed to be a foreigner and a nuisance. Some of the religious leaders look at Jesus and the disciples and saw people who failed to follow the appropriate religious rituals and who could therefore be regarded as unclean. But the externals did not matter. The woman was in need and had great faith. Jesus asks what is inside us, what are we like at the core of our being? He lists the things that can 'come out of our heart' and defile us. Murder and sexual immorality we may deny. But what about malice and gossip, what we think about people but don't say? In what ways are we not quite the people God would want us to be?
The good news is that we can change by the Holy Spirit moving in our lives. God can transform us at the core- He knows our faith and our awareness of our weakness and our desire to be the people He would want us to be. In a moment we will sing the song 'Purify my heart' asking God to cleanse and transform us. Before that we spend a moment in quiet thinking of the ways in which God needs to transform us.