August 29, 2021

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Song of Solomon 2:8-13
    • Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9
    • Psalm 15
  • Second reading
    • James 1:17-27
  • Gospel
    • Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

The gospel reading from Mark:
Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.)

Holy Spirit as Dove
Washington National Cathedral
Relief sculpture
Material: Stone
Washington, DC

So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”

Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.

All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Pastor is reminded of a Christmas movie in which a boy, Ralphie involved in an incident, speaks a naughty word and is subjected to a ritual cleansing of his mouth with soap. Today in our gospel reading, the temple priests cleanse the temple and the congregation cleanse themselves before worship. It is important to them. However, there is a conflict between Jesus’ disciples and the establishment. Conflict is inevitable. In Isaiah, it is prophesized that the messiah will be named Emanuel, meaning God with us. Today too we see conflict. The punishment was not enough to stop Ralphie. Pietistic ritual cannot address all the conflicts of a broken world. Jesus tells his disciples to not discuss the miracles with the people. Miracles are an inevitable conflict. In the wilderness, Jesus is tempted to turn stone into bread, a quick solution but not God’s plan. In his sermon, Pastor Stevensen proceeds to explain that His Son died for you and me. It is happening now.

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