Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Matthew 15:10-28

This morning, in the shower as usual, I began thinking about what to say next Sunday. I've pulled the two sermons from previous years and will look them over before starting in on the commentaries and online info later this morning. But here are my first thoughts.

When I was about 4, we got a new car. I remember asking my dad why and his answer was something about the car being broken. In my small child's mind, that meant the forbidden "do not touch this" cigarette lighter no longer worked. Well, it did and I burned my finger! Daddy asked me why I had touched it and of course I fed his own words right back to him, "you told me the car was broken."

When we are wee children, we need black and white rules. Don't touch the stove, don't cross the street, don't squeeze the cat - I'm noticing that we tend to stress the negative in all these rules. My sister, Helen, told her little boys (14 months apart) that they had to keep their seatbelts fastened because if they didn't and she had to stop quickly, they might fly through the windshield - from the back seat, of course - and die. It comes as no surprise, then, that the day curious Greg undid his seatbelt, literal Robert cried, "Greg's gonna die!"

Rules are good to have but at some point we begin to reason and think logically and some of the rules don't work anymore. We learn that the stove is only hot when the burner is red or the flame is on. We learn that a hot stove can be a good thing. And, hopefully, before we leave our parents' houses, we learn how to use the stove for our well being!

Once we are adults, there are very few black and white rules anymore and I think most of them can be traced back to the ten commandments. Don't kill, don't steal, honor your parents, have but one God still work. But so many of our rules begin to show signs of grey. Sometimes talking to strangers is a good thing, for instance.

I remember a friend telling me once that she was terrified of African Americans. She was almost 40 years old and had never met anyone who was not as white as she was! Then she went back to school, got a job in the nearby city and learned that her childhood fear was unfounded. Furthermore, she discovered that not all white people were good just because they were white.

The Pharisees can't let go of any of their rules. To do so would mean being unclean and maybe even jeopardize their standing as Pharisees. The disciples, who were never Pharisee material, have some hard and fast rules of their own. Jesus sets out to stand them all on their heads.

And that's it for starters. Since there is no way this is a complete sermon, I trust there will be more to follow. ;-)

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