10 September 2006
Proper 18 B RCL
Proverbs22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 * James 2:1-17
The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek – St. Peter’s at Ellicott Mills, MD
“Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy…”
Men of anger, men of warMy heart is filled with loveTell me what you are fighting forMy heart is filled with loveThis death I see won't make me numbMy heart is filled with loveEvery boy a mother's sonMy heart is filled with love----Raise your voices, spread the news...Buddhist, Christian, Moslem, Jew...They all teach the golden rule...Do unto others as you'd have them do...-----I will not fear these foreign tongues...There is a place for everyone...I cannot make my will their own...But fear can turn a heart to stone...----I do not know my neighbor's name...I love that stranger just the same...Hope is rising from this place...Divine wisdom, amazing grace...---Men of anger, men of war...Tell me what you are fighting forMy heart is filled with love
My heart is filled with love
My heart is filled with love
©2003 by Joyce Andersen/JoyScream Music
Written the night of March 19, 2003
I have listened to this song every day since I first heard it. To trust in the Lord “with all our hearts” Jesus insists is to fill our hearts with love so that there is room for nothing but love.
And as all three of our lessons make clear, the only evidence that our hearts are filled with love can be seen in how we treat one another – especially those who are utterly different from our selves. The way of Love in the Bible has little to do with how we feel about others and everything to do with how we treat them.
For instance, I was in the gym the other morning. I was on a piece of equipment facing about twenty or so folks who were on various forms of aerobic equipment: ellipticals, treadmills and the like. A potential new member walked between us. He was obviously a biker – everything from the head scarf to his boots screamed “Harley Davidson.” I watched as twenty some heads turned in unison and stared with concerned looks on their faces. I wondered just how welcome he felt with all those pairs of skeptical and even fearful eyes following his every step.
Love has to do with how we treat others – all others. Jesus learns this lesson, it would seem, the hard way. I suspect that is true for us all.
A woman comes to Jesus with one single-minded request – to heal her daughter, to deliver her daughter from whatever demons possess her. It does not take much reflection to determine the fact that we still find ourselves surrounded and possessed by demons of all makes, models and descriptions: greed, fear, hatred, war, estrangement from others, loneliness, despair, addictions of all kinds…the list is almost endless.
This woman has no name because in the end she is each one of us. She is from across the tracks. Her people have been long despised by Jesus’ people. She addresses him, however, as Lord and asks for her daughter’s healing. We are told he tries to ignore her. He is silent.
I don’t know about you, but when Jesus answers me not a word I slip into any number of temptations: self-pity, to quietly slip away, to get angry. And when I hear the disciples imploring Jesus to send me away the temptation to get the heck out of dodge increases. My heart races. I get cold sweats in the palms of my hands.
Which is why I love this unnamed woman. She does not flinch. She kneels and cries out again, “Help my daughter!” She is asking nothing for herself. She wants him to do something for her daughter and nothing else. Her heart is undivided. Her heart is filled with love.
Then in what is perhaps an attempt to drive her away once and for all Jesus declares that “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” That is, this bread of mine and all this healing power I marshal on God’s behalf is for my fellow countrymen, not for foreign dogs like you. Make no mistake about it, he calls her a dog. Even Jesus is not immune to cultural bigotry.
Then it happens. The earth is moved. History is advanced one step forward. Without hesitation she replies, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
She does not ask for a meal. She does not ask for a piece of bread. She is willing to settle for crumbs. It’s as if she is saying, “I am not asking for a full fledged, highly publicized big and flashy event here. Just a crumb. Just a look of compassion. Just a word of Love will be enough.”
With that Jesus is moved. He lets her in. He sets long established traditions, feelings, prejudices and hatred aside. When faced by so much love and so much need in such an undivided heart full of love, he immediately announces her daughter is healed, her need is fulfilled because of her great love and her undivided heart – which the story calls “faith.” Faith appears to be our willingness to accept only crumbs. To learn that crumbs are enough. Hope comes from this place.
Jesus saw something he could not see before – this woman embraced her poverty and her outcast nature. She lived out of a poverty of spirit. She was her best self – her whole self. Because this woman embraced her littleness she was willing to accept only crumbs knowing that crumbs would be enough. Her story has been told now for nearly two thousand years. Jesus was nourished by her faith and learned to extend his and his Father’s love beyond the accepted boundaries of the imaginable.
Her story can be your story. Her story can be our story. We can fill our hearts with love and the earth will move. Demons will depart one by one. Jesus will recognize our hope, our love, and our faith. Jesus will be nourished by your love, your hope and your faith. He will say, “I can do nothing but respond to your great need. Be it done for you as you desire.”
To learn what we ought to desire, read and re-read Proverbs, James and Mark chapter 7. Or, sing this song over and over until all our hearts are filled with love. We may get only the crumbs, but the crumbs off Jesus’ table will more than satisfy our deepest hunger and deepest desires. Hope rises from this place – this is divine wisdom amazing grace!
“Men of anger, men of war, my heart is filled with love…..”