Monday, August 11, 2014

Dogs Under the Table

When I was appointed to Drummond, all the clergy used to gather for worship each month.  We would go over announcements, we might have some type of learning component and then we would worship with one of the pastors preaching.  Once in particular, our District Superintendent, Stan Warfield was preaching on this upcoming Sunday's lectionary text, Matthew 15:21-28.

We venerate dogs a lot more today than they did in first century Palestine.
In this passage, a Canaanite woman (Mark's gospel refers to her more specifically as Syrophoenician) comes to Jesus for healing for her daughter. Jesus puts her off with an implied slight that she as a Gentile is a dog. Her reply is that even the dogs feed on the crumbs under the master's table.  Jesus seems impressed with her answer and announces that her daughter has been healed.

When Stan was preaching on this text, we had a wide variety of pastors present including some older retired pastors serving smaller churches in the district.  One in particular liked to "Amen" the points Stan was making during his sermon.  As Stan told the details of the story, the pastor kept right on with "Amen!"

Stan was building up to the shock of Jesus's response to her and finally concluded with, "Jesus called this woman a dog!"

Right on cue, the pastor replied, "Amen!"

It kind of reduced the dramatic effect that Stan was going for on this particular point!

So what do we do with this text?

How do we reconcile this treatment of the Gentile woman with our belief that God so loved the world?

It is a difficult passage to be sure and we'll continue to wrestle with it on Sunday.  If you have some thoughts about it, please comment below!

Picture by darwin Bell from San Francisco, USA (waiting under the table  Uploaded by Fæ)  via Wikimedia Commons

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