A New Earth

Sabbath Day Thoughts: “A New Earth” Isaiah 65:17-25

When it comes to climate change, the Adirondacks may not be at the top of our list of regions most impacted by our warming earth.

We are more likely to think of island nations like the Maldives, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean that rises only 2.4 meters above sea level at its high point.  As sea level rises with the melting of glaciers and polar ice caps, the Maldives are in peril.  In 2015, the charismatic young President of the Maldives drew world attention to his nation’s plight by holding his first cabinet meeting underwater.  According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), by 2010, sea levels will potentially rise 100 centimeters, covering almost the entire nation.

When it comes to climate change, we think of polar bears, the poster-child for the impact of global warming on our animal species.  Climate projections anticipate that, before mid-century, we could have a nearly ice-free Arctic in the summer.  Polar bears rely heavily on sea ice for traveling, hunting, mating, resting, and in some areas, for dens where cubs are birthed and nurtured.  Studies have linked the demise of sea ice with a 40% decline in the number of polar bears in northeast Alaska and Canada.  Will the bears survive a warming Arctic?

In the lower forty-eight states, we tend to think of the south when it comes to the impact of global warming.  Our warmer, wetter world has caused a surge in powerful tropical storms that have pounded the Gulf states and beyond.  Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana in August, second only to Hurricane Katrina as the most damaging and intense hurricane to hit the U.S., with maximum winds of 150 mph.  As Ida moved north, so did its destructive power.  The storm caused catastrophic flooding across northeastern states.  Ida caused $50.1 billion in damages.  In the storm’s aftermath, 95 Americans had been killed—33 deaths in Louisiana and 9 more across the southland, 30 in New Jersey, 18 in New York, and 5 in Pennsylvania.

Island nations sinking into the sea, polar bears threatened with extinction, massive storms inflicting heavy property damage and loss of life.  This is often the face of climate change on the evening news.  Yet we might be surprised to learn that the Adirondacks are being profoundly affected by our warming world.

Researchers at SUNY Plattsburgh report that the Adirondacks are warming at a rate that is twice as fast as the rest of the planet.  The global average temperature has increased 1.8 degrees over the past 30 years, but in Lake Placid, that increase has doubled to 3.6 degrees.  That means that our fall is longer than it once was.  Our spring comes earlier.  We have more winter warm-ups.  Ask anyone who grew up in Saranac Lake and they will tell you that winter isn’t what it used to be.

The Adirondacks sit at the southern edge of the great boreal forest that stretches north across Canada to the Arctic.  As our weather warms, that boreal forest will creep north as native plants and trees can’t take the relative heat.  It’s already happening.  It’s already having a big impact on our wild creatures.  The National Audubon Society reports that we are seeing a dramatic decline in our northern boreal birds, like gray jays, Bicknell’s thrush, spruce grouse, and the black-backed woodpecker.  We are also seeing a decline in fish.  Brook trout, lake trout, salmon, and round whitefish all need cold water to thrive.  An EPA report anticipates that brook trout fishing could disappear from the Adirondacks by the year 2100.  As the Adirondacks continue to warm, the animals of the boreal forest will migrate north in search of habitat.  Can we imagine the park without moose, bobcats, fishers, pine martens, and loons?  Unless there is collective action to limit the amount of carbon in our atmosphere, that will be the Adirondack Park that we leave to our children and grandchildren.  It’s a sobering possibility.

In our scripture lesson, the Prophet Isaiah shares God’s promise of a new heaven and a new earth.  The people who first heard Isaiah’s prophecy were likewise living with the impact of their actions upon the good land that God had entrusted to their care.  The Israelites had returned home from decades of captivity in Babylon.  Their land, which had once flowed with milk and honey, had been devastated by foreign invasion and decades of war.  When the Babylonian army had rolled across Israel, they had destroyed everything in their path.  Every fortified city from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south had been conquered and flattened.  Jerusalem was hardly recognizable: its protective walls breached and pulled down, its homes in ruins, its Temple burned to the ground.  The reality was so overwhelming, that people didn’t know where to begin.  That may be how we feel about the reality of climate change.

In the midst of the people’s despair, God spoke a vision of hope.  God, who had created heaven and earth, would create again, a new world of harmony and abundance.  God’s word to the Prophet Isaiah is a sweet and joyous promise of long life, rebuilt homes, fruitful vineyards, simple abundance, and good health.  God anticipates a healed relationship between humanity and the holy: before we even begin to pray, God will hear and respond.  God anticipates a healed relationship between humanity and all creatures, great and small.  All will dwell peaceably, free from harm and the threat of destruction.  Isiah’s promise is so sweet, that we hear it and we want it for ourselves.  We want it for the generations to come.

It’s a promise that reveals God’s best hope for us.  Indeed, in the Book of Revelation, John of Patmos described God’s coming Kingdom as Isaiah did, as a new heaven and a new earth, a new Jerusalem in right relationship with God.  Humanity gets things so wrong.  The ancient Israelites bring death to the land by exploiting its bounty, oppressing one another, and waging endless wars in pursuit of wealth and national greatness.  We, with our unbridled consumption and short-sighted pursuit of prosperity, pump the atmosphere full of greenhouse gases that trap ultraviolet rays and turn up the heat.  Our world is suffering.  Creation is groaning.  And in the middle of the mess that we have made, God dares to dream that things can be different.  There can be a fresh start, a new earth.

What might it look like for us to claim Isaiah’s vision, to begin living in ways that give us a foretaste of the coming Kingdom that God will one day bring to completion?  Jerry Jenkins, the leading expert on climate change in the Adirondacks, says that we can personally start to mitigate climate change with simple thrift.  Don’t buy new stuff: reduce, re-use, recycle.

We can make changes at home.  If we dial back the thermostat by two degrees, we can not only reduce our household carbon emissions, but also save as much as 5% on our heating bill.  We can turn off un-needed lights.  We can replace energy-wasting lightbulbs with high-quality LED bulbs that last a long time, consume less electricity, and save lots of money, year in and year out.  We can use native plants in our flower gardens to attract pollinators, like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

We can change our habits.  We can bring our own re-useable bottle or mug wherever we go.  We can drive less—plan our trips into town, walk to nearby destinations, or ride our bikes instead of hopping in the car.  We can cut down on food waste by eating leftovers.  We can eat less meat—those concentrated animal feeding operations, where cattle and pork are warehoused in close proximity and force-fed, are massive emitters of methane, a greenhouse gas.

If we are in a position to make big ticket investments, we can consider purchasing a hybrid car.  We could add a solar array to our homes to begin moving off the grid.  We could invest in a renewable heat source.  Burn wood pellets.  Go geo-thermal. 

These are simple steps that each of us can embrace.  You can give them a try, even if you deny the truth of climate science.  What’s to lose?  These simple actions are good for us, good for the planet, and they save money.  Who doesn’t want to save money?

William Janeway of the Adirondack Council envisions a day when the Adirondack Park will be “energy neutral.”  We’ll preserve our wild beauty and ecological integrity.  We’ll be a world-class natural resource and a premier tourism destination.  We’ll be a model for the world to see of a “climate-smart, public-private conservation landscape.”  The stakes are huge.  Our failure to take action could have dire consequences for our children and grandchildren.  Jerry Jenkins cautions that if we do not slow the course of human-caused climate change, “We may be the last generation to see the big bogs and the boreal creatures.”  Would our children ever forgive us?

May we find in Isaiah’s vision of the new heaven and the new earth the holy will to make a better future for our park and our planet.


–. “Peril and Promise” on Mountain Lakes Journal, May 21, 2019.

Craig, Gewndolyn. “Adirondacks Affected by Warming Climate in a Number of Ways” in The Post Start, October 13, 2018.  Accessed online at www.poststar.com.

Foderaro, Lisa. “Savoring Bogs and Moss, Fearing They’ll Vanish as the Adirondacks Warm” in The New York Times, Dec. 11, 2011.  Accessed online at www.nytimes.com

Kerlin, Kat. “18 Simple Things You Can Do about Climate Change” in UC Davis: Science and Health. January 8, 2019.  Accessed online at www.climatechange.ucdavis.edu

Mann, Brian. “Effects of Climate Change on the Adirondacks” on North Country Public Radio, Feb. 25, 2019.  Accessed online at www.ncpr.org

Rivera, Nelson. “Homiletical Perspective on Isaiah 65:17-25” in Feasting on the Word, Year C, vol. 4. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010.

Johns, Mary Eleanor. “Pastoral Perspective on Isaiah 65:17-25” in Feasting on the Word, Year C, vol. 4. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010.

Photo by David Keindel on Pexels.com

Poem for a Tuesday

“The low road” by Marge Piercy

“What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can’t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again and they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know you who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.”

in Cries of the Spirit, ed. Marilyn Sewell. Beacon Press: Boston, 1991.

Photo by Kelly Lacy on Pexels.com

The Hard Road

Sabbath Day Thoughts–Mark 9:30-37

Who is the greatest?

If we are talking about nations, we might argue that the greatest country has the strongest economy – a chicken in every pot, a job for every worker, abundance beyond imagining.  Or, it could be the land with the most powerful military: expertly trained troops, cutting edge technology, firepower that inspires shock and awe.  Or, it could be the nation with the best quality of life – top healthcare, best schools, least poverty, and earliest retirement.

When it comes to the workplace, we might feel that greatness is found in the biggest paycheck.  Or, it could come down to responsibility—the number of employees we supervise or sites that we manage.  Greatness is associated with climbing the corporate ladder.  We have an inherent sense of workplace hierarchy from the tech billionaire firing rockets into space to the immigrant janitor, emptying the trash after hours.

Our understanding of greatness takes shape from an early age.  Consider our schools.  Greatness is acknowledged in brainy students who earn academic laurels, like National Honor Society, valedictorian, and salutatorian.  Greatness is heralded on the athletic field, where our natural prowess for speed, agility, or teamwork is rewarded.  Some students think that greatness is found in popularity—kids with the coolest circle of friends, best clothes, prettiest faces, and nicest homes are often most admired.

What do we believe makes for greatness?

In our reading from Mark’s gospel, the disciples were challenged to rethink their understanding of greatness.  Jesus and his friends were walking a long way, apart from the crowds.  The Lord used this quiet time to share a second prediction of the betrayal, suffering, and death that would befall him.  Given Jesus’ bleak prophecy, we might expect the disciples to discuss how they could best support, protect, and encourage their friend Jesus.  Or perhaps they would ponder how best to continue Jesus’ message and mission, if the worst should happen.  They could have talked about care for mother Mary, help for the struggling crowds, or healing for all those sick people who depended upon Jesus’ compassion.

But at the day’s end, as they settled into Peter’s home in Capernaum, we learn that the disciples spent the day arguing.  When confronted by Jesus, the twelve grudgingly admitted that they had been squabbling among themselves about who was the greatest. Peter thought he was the best because he had walked on water—at least for a little while.  Andrew thought he might be best because he was a natural evangelist, bringing Philip and Nathaniel and even Peter to the Lord.  James said he was the greatest because he was a natural leader whom others respected.  Judas thought he should take top honors for best managing the money.  On the road that day, there must have been the sort of heated, trash-talking debate that we hear in the locker room or on the line of scrimmage, in the board room or on the playground.

Scientists believe that the desire for status is a fundamental human motive.  A 2015 study by researchers at the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business found that status is something that all people crave and covet—even if we don’t realize it.  We may not want wealth or a fancy home or an impressive job title, but we all desire respect, some voluntary deference from others, and social value – to know that we matter in the lives of other people.  Status is universally important because it influences how people think and behave.  It can even effect how we feel.  Indeed, when we perceive that our status among peers, work, or community is low, we suffer.  Low status impacts our health, making us more prone to depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular disease.

In the first century world of the Roman Empire, Caesar was the greatest.  Members of the imperial family and the Roman senate, as well as those who enjoyed their patronage, had high status.  Roman citizens had higher status and greater legal protections than residents of vassal nations, like Israel.  At the bottom of the social ladder were menial slaves and children.  Within Greco-Roman society, unwanted children could be abandoned at birth at the discretion of their father.  Even within Hebrew society, children had no status apart from the Beth Ab, the house of the father, the patriarch.  Outside the protective order of the Beth Ab, a child was completely vulnerable.  That’s why the Torah is littered with commands to care for orphans.

When we consider that first century world, we begin to imagine how shocking and offensive Jesus’ rebuke to the disciples would have been.  First, Jesus says that the greatest of all must be servant of all.  The servant of all was the lowest status slave in a household.  They were typically the youngest slave with the most menial of duties: foot washing, sanitation, caring for animals.  The servant of all didn’t eat until every other slave in the household had been served—by them.  Only then could they eat from the leftovers.  Next, Jesus—a high status rabbi who typically would not have been concerned with children at all—Jesus took a toddler and placed the child in their midst.  This child would have been the lowest status, most vulnerable, and dependent person in the home.  Jesus gave the child a hug and told the twelve that this was who he was.  This was whom they should emulate and welcome.  Can we imagine the shocked silence in that room?

It’s a tough teaching that flies in the face of our fundamental human desire for status.  It’s hard to even think of a comparable metaphor in today’s world.  Perhaps, Jesus would call us to be like migrant farm workers, spending long hours in backbreaking labor for low wages to feed America.  Perhaps Jesus would call us to be like the vulnerable children caught up in the foster care system without a permanent home or consistent guardian or a legal voice in decisions that profoundly affect our lives.  Whatever our notions about status may be, Jesus wants to turn them upside down.  Jesus wants to thoroughly reorient us.

Karoline Lewis, who teaches at Luther Seminary in Minneapolis, teaches that we begin to understand what Jesus is trying to say when we consider what God has done.  The immortal, omniscient, inscrutable, unknowable great God of the multiverse chose to be mortal, to know the finitude and the frailty of flesh.  That downward path continued as Jesus—God made flesh—concerned himself with the least of these, the low-status people of his time.  He sought the lost sheep of Israel, forgave sinners, touched those who were unclean, welcomed scoundrels, taught women, and healed Gentile outsiders.  It got worse: betrayal, prison, a kangaroo court, torture, public humiliation, and a brutal excruciating death that was reserved for the lowest status residents of the empire.  God gave us the ultimate object lesson in downward mobility.  Think about it.

It is a hard and holy road.  It makes no sense whatsoever until we affirm what those earliest Christians knew about Jesus, knew about God.  God is love.  God is agape, the choice to love others and act always in their best interest, without counting the personal cost.  Agape is the choice to love whether or not the object of our love is lovable or worthy.  It is a choice to love, regardless of status.  Agape prompted God to become flesh in Jesus.  In agape, Jesus poured out his life with kindness and caring, healing and justice.  In agape, Jesus chose the cross for the redemption of status-seeking disciples like Peter, Andrew, and James, for status-seeking disciples like us.

In today’s tough teaching, Jesus dares to hope that there will be others to follow him on that hard road of downward mobility.  He opens a window on a world that can be ours, a world where greatness is found in love that serves, honors, and sacrifices.  Jesus challenges us to envision a world where we are willing to be weak, vulnerable, and humble for others’ sake.  It is a world where our innate desire for status is subverted, where the greatest among us are not the folks with political power, the biggest bank accounts, or the most followers on social media.  The greatest of all love the most.  It is world where we can all be great.

As I finish up my message, I’d like to invite you to imagine the world that Jesus would have us make, where greatness is found in vulnerability and self-giving love.  In Jesus’s world, the Olympic games honor those who care the most.  The gold medals this summer went out to all the nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, and caregivers who have been on the frontlines of the COVID crisis.  In Jesus’s world, the billionaires aren’t firing rockets into space; instead, they are vying to ensure that the world’s children have safe clean drinking water, enough food, and an education.  In Jesus’s world, reality television doesn’t pit contestants against one another for survival on a desert island.  Rather, competitors go toe-to-toe to see who can be kindest, who can do the most good, who can make the biggest positive difference in their hometown.  In Jesus’s world, every child is honored and everyone has status, not because they are intelligent, athletic, or popular, but because they are children of a God who loves them enough to die for them.

It’s a good world.  It’s the greatest.  Let’s go forth to make it so.  Amen.


Lewis, Karoline.  “The Greatest” in Preaching This Week, Sept. 17, 2018.  Accessed online at workingpreacher.com.

Lose, David. “A Different Kind of Greatness” in Dear Partner in Preaching, Sept. 2018.  Accessed online at http://www.davidlose.net/

Moore-Keish, Martha L. “Theological Perspective on Mark 9:30-37” in Feasting on the Word, Louisville: Westminister John Knox Press, 2009.

Ringe, Sharon H. “Exegetical Perspective on Mark 9:30-37” in Feasting on the Word, Louisville: Westminister John Knox Press, 2009.

Photo by Benjamin Suter on Pexels.com

Knowing God

Poem for a Wednesday – “Knowing God” by Mark Nepo

Oh lone crazed bird
singing in the night–

you sing with your whole body
while the rest of us sleep.

I go to close the window
when my wife touches my arm
and we listen.

You call out
like a saint robbed of words.

Are you blind and trapped
in a vision of sun?

Or do you simply see farther
than the rest of us?

Do you see the light coming?

Do you feel the beads of warmth
forming in the dark?

Oh what has stirred
that thing in you that sings?

Stir me now.
Sing me clean.

Originally published in Acre of Light, a chapbook by Mark Nepo that documents his experience of cancer. Lewisten, NY: Mellen Poetry Press, 1993.

Photo by egil sju00f8holt on Pexels.com

A Bigger Mission

Sabbath Day Thoughts — Mark 7:24-37

Every day we encounter them, folks who are outsiders to the Christian community.

Melissa has never been a church member.  Although her parents were both raised in mainline congregations, they never got involved with the church as adults.  They never had Melissa or her brothers baptized or confirmed.  Melissa has good memories of attending church as a child on special occasions with her grandparents, especially those wonderful Christmas Eve services.  Sometimes, Melissa thinks she could really use that beauty and belonging in her life, but she doesn’t know how that would happen.  Her grandparents have been gone for years.  Sunday morning services feel like a foreign language, and the one time she did go, she sat by herself in the back.  It feels a whole lot safer to stay home and have a second cup of coffee.

Ben and Mary haven’t attended church since their youngest son aged up and out of the Youth Group.  They had felt it was important for their children to experience the moral and ethical teachings of Christianity, and so for years they had made the effort to come to church.  They sat in the sanctuary while the kids trooped off after the Children’s Time to Sunday School.  Ben and Mary never truly intended to drop out of church.  Each week they promised one another that this would be the Sunday they would be back.  A week turned into a month.  Then, it was a year.  Then, it just got too embarrassing because they had been gone for so long.  Now they think of church as something that had been part of their lives “back then.”  It’s just too much bother to reconnect.

Betty attended church weekly for decades.  Every week, she sat in the same pew, used the same hymnal, and passed the peace with the same people.  All that tradition had to change when Betty sold her house, which had gotten to be too much to manage after her husband died.  Betty’s new home is a fifteen-minute drive from church.  After she had a series of fender benders, the kids persuaded her to give up the car.  As a result, Betty’s Sunday morning trips to church came to an end.  Betty likes the online services, but it’s not the same.  She misses worship; she misses her church family.

Every day we encounter them, those folks who, for whatever reasons, are now outside the Christian community.  We exchange awkward “Hellos.” We make small talk about the weather.  We share superficial news of family.  Then, we go our way, feeling relieved it’s over but also a little sad.

Our reading from Mark’s gospel told two stories of outsiders to the covenant community.  It began with that woman and her demon-possessed daughter.  The Bible scholars like to tell us all the reasons why this woman and her child would not be welcomed by Jesus and his friends.  First of all, she was a Gentile of the worst sort: a Syrophoenician who worshipped the storm god Baal.  These were not lost sheep of Israel.  These were foreign Jezebels.  This woman didn’t have the courtesy to follow the traditional practice of sending a male family member to make the request for healing help.  A first-century rabbi would never accept a private audience with a woman who was not a family member, especially a Gentile Syrophoenician one.

All Jesus wanted was a little peace and quiet after his dust up with the Pharisees and scribes, but as soon as this woman heard that Jesus was in the neighborhood, she was knocking on the door with her inappropriate request.  We know that Jesus didn’t like it because he called the woman and her child dogs—ask any woman and she will tell you that there is absolutely nothing nice about being called a dog, no matter who says it.  Most of us would tuck our tails and walk away, but that tenacious woman refused to give up.  Her witty repartee about even dogs deserving a few crumbs—and her bold faith that Jesus could heal her daughter, if he only would—stopped Jesus as he began to shut the door.  “Hmm,” he thought.  “Maybe it isn’t just about the lost sheep of Israel.  Maybe God’s love can be bigger than that.  Maybe even outsiders like the Syrophoenician woman and her daughter could have a place within the new covenant community that is taking shape around me”.  One thing is for certain, Jesus changed his mind.  The demon was gone and the girl was cured, sight unseen.

The second healing story serves as an exclamation point to this notion of a bigger mission.  Jesus was again in Gentile territory, again facing inappropriate demands to heal someone who was beyond the literal and spiritual borders of Israel.  This time, there was no harsh refusal, no need for witty repartee.  On the contrary, Jesus worked hard for the man’s healing: laying on hands, applying spittle, touching his tongue, and praying, “Ephphatha!”  Be opened!  Jesus’ healing work was so thorough that the no longer impaired man and his friends couldn’t stop sharing the good news of what Jesus had done, despite Jesus’ request that they keep it on the down low.  The news of this new openness must have spread like wildfire throughout the Gentile cities of the Decapolis.

These beautiful stories of healing and the command to “Be opened” speak to us.  Often when we hear them preached, we are reminded that Jesus invites us to reach beyond traditional boundaries.  We are meant to share God’s love, healing, and mercy with folks who are stereotypically outsiders to the mainstream of society—or at least to mainline churches.  Be opened!  Minister to those who are incarcerated.  Reach out to the refugee and the migrant.  Welcome neighbors whose lifestyles or loves have been made to feel like they don’t belong amid the assembly of the faithful.  Indeed, I believe that Jesus calls us to that radical openness which we affirm every Sunday when I share our statement of mission and state that, “All are welcome here.”  God’s love is always larger and more inclusive than we can begin to imagine.  Jesus expects that those who follow him will “Be opened” even when that is not easy or comfortable.

This time through the lectionary cycle, I have also been thinking about those other outsiders, the ones we encounter every day.  They may be spiritually hungry seekers, like Melissa.  They have never known what it is like to have a church family.  They don’t know that Jesus loves them.  The very thought of attending a church on their own feels risky and lonely, like being a stranger in a strange land.

Those everyday outsiders may have once had a place in the assembly of the faithful.  But then an empty nest, or a big promotion, or retirement got them out of the church habit.  They have slipped away from our Sunday mornings and our potlucks.  For a number of years, they made an obligatory appearance on Christmas Eve.  One day, we sadly realized that they aren’t church people any more.

Those everyday outsiders may even have once been insiders like Betty.  Then, a big move, a growing disability, the death of a spouse, or the onset of dementia brought an end to their deep engagement with the congregation.  We miss them, but we don’t always do anything about that.  We trust that the deacons and the pastor will handle it.

There are everyday outsiders everywhere, and the advent of the pandemic has made it that much easier to allow folks to continue to be outsiders.  We tell ourselves that if people really want to worship, they can now do so online.  We don’t even consider inviting them to church because who wants to worship in the Great Hall anyway?  It becomes awfully easy to hide behind our masks in the grocery store.  We may encounter those everyday outsiders everywhere, but those awkward moments of encounter pass.  We shrug it off, at least until the next time.

Ephphatha!”  Be opened, Jesus says to us this morning.  It’s a prayer.  It’s a plea.  It’s a calling to take personal responsibility.  Those everyday outsiders, their mothers aren’t going to come knocking at the church door, demanding an audience with Jesus.  Those everyday outsiders, their neighbors aren’t going to intercede for them.  It’s up to us to care, to reach out, to speak, to make a way for connection, to be the love of Christ for those who feel that, somehow, they are on the outside.

Jesus, put your fingers in our ears.  Jesus, give us a little of that holy spittle.  Jesus, touch our tongues.  Open our hearts to those who are on the outside looking in, lonely, alienated, and uncertain about what they are truly looking for.  In a world that is desperate for God’s mercy, healing, and love, the gap between insider and outsider is ours to bridge. 


Ashton, Loye Bradley. “Theological Perspective on Mark 7:24-37” in Feasting on the Word, Year B, vol. 4. Louisville: Westminister John Knox Press, 2009.

Howe, Amy C. “Pastoral Perspective on Mark 7:24-37” in Feasting on the Word, Year B, vol. 4. Louisville: Westminister John Knox Press, 2009.

Wilhelm, Dawn Ottoni. “Homiletical Perspective on Mark 7:24-37” in Feasting on the Word, Year B, vol. 4. Louisville: Westminister John Knox Press, 2009.

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