Spirit & Life

Season of Creation – Living Our Faith

Mark 7:24-37
Then Jesus left and went away to the territory near the city of Tyre. He went into a house and did not want anyone to know he was there, but he could not stay hidden. A woman, whose daughter had an evil spirit in her, heard about Jesus and came to him at once and fell at his feet. The woman was a Gentile, born in the region of Phoenicia in Syria. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. But Jesus answered, “Let us first feed the children. It isn’t right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”
“Sir,” she answered, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s leftovers!”
So Jesus said to her, “Because of that answer, go back home, where you will find that the demon has gone out of your daughter!”
She went home and found her child lying on the bed; the demon had indeed gone out of her.

Jesus then left the neighbourhood of Tyre and went on through Sidon to Lake Galilee, going by way of the territory of the Ten Towns. Some people brought him a man who was deaf and could hardly speak, and they begged Jesus to place his hands on him. So Jesus took him off alone, away from the crowd, put his fingers in the man’s ears, spat, and touched the man’s tongue. Then Jesus looked up to heaven, gave a deep groan, and said to the man, “Ephphatha,” which means, “Open up!” At once the man was able to hear, his speech impediment was removed, and he began to talk without any trouble. Then Jesus ordered the people not to speak of it to anyone; but the more he ordered them not to, the more they told it. And all who heard were completely amazed. “How well he does everything!” they exclaimed. “He even causes the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak!”

Prejudice and suspicion haunt humanity. The woman risked serious consequences to be in daylight, without a male companion, because of her deep love for her daughter, and faith in Jesus’ healing. Society feared ‘demons’ or illnesses they did not understand, typically leaving many ostracized. A female, minor, with a ‘demon’, from Syrophoenicia, had four reasons to be set aside. The mother’s faith overcame her fear and societal prejudice, to call for support for the ‘least’ of God’s people. Jesus in gentle humility, acknowledged this, and responded in love. Later, Jesus’ healing of a deaf-mute man showed focused compassion, removing the man to a quiet space (hearing impaired people’s first encounter with sound is very shocking), using kinesthetic touch to communicate the healing, and groaning in agony and wonder with the Spirit. Through our faith in God, we find transformation in life, where fear and prejudice, lack of insight and understanding are overcome as we follow the Way of Jesus.

In this time of celebrating Season of Creation, may humanity lose our ‘deafness’ to the ‘groaning’ of God’s creation.
May our faith overcome our prejudice and suspicion of environmental research and science,
removing our lack if insight and understanding.
May we raise in public what is significant and precious in creation care,
even at the cost of receiving disapproval and shame.
May we offer the Spirit’s healing forgiveness and be peacemakers as we act in the Way of Jesus,
with faith and gentle humility, with loving, responsible hands.

Prayer of Confession
Loving One, guide us.
You have made us all, and called us your people.
Too often we fear others who are different from ourselves
and do not connect with, or even accept, them.
We are so sorry.
Loving One, guide us.

We too often do not try understand other customs and practices,
and forget you are already there, in the midst of the people.
We are so sorry.
Loving One, guide us.

Help us to let go of crippling fear, and seek a heart of love,
so that we are not afraid to offer support where it is needed most.
We are so sorry.
Loving One, guide us.

In uncertain times, we long for things to be as they were before.
We know time does not go backwards,
yet our fear draws shadows over the present.
You go before us, and yet we forget your presence.
We are so sorry.
Loving One, guide us.
Words of Assurance
Jesus extends his hand to us in gentle love and humility.
When we do not have the words, the Spirit sounds our groans and sighs.
God is present, beyond our knowing, and with us, at every step.
Step out of the shadows of fear and prejudice.
Live out your faith with courage and hope.
Loving God goes before us.

Prayer of Adoration and Thanksgiving
Praise and thanks to you, our constant Friend.
For when we are fearful, you stretch out your hand to us.
When we feel different from those whom we meet, you are already in the moment.
When we feel anger, turn this energy into a power of positive practice.
You, O God, are a God of wonder.
We cannot ever understand the breadth and depth of your love
that surrounds and upholds us.
Fill us with the grace to love, the energy to give, the strength to carry,
and the faith to overcome our human frailty as we follow you.
For with you we come alive to the wonder of grace and goodness.
Praise and thanks to you, our constant Friend.

© Rev Anne Hewitt 01/09/2021
This reflection & prayer may be shared as long as the original writer is credited.
Past Reflections and prayers can be found at churchestogethersa.org.au

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