And because the midwives feared God, [God] gave them families.
Pharaoh’s daughter said to [the child’s mother], “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.”
It isn’t magic that impossible situations are transformed into new streams of possibility in God’s economy. It happens all the time. It is the way of God’s kindom.
“We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us,” Romans reiterates. But when they are put in motion—whatever those gifts, those currencies are, they all work toward wholeness and abundance. Eric Law calls this the cycle of blessing: “In God’s creation, everything gets recycled, including that which we consider to be waste.”
The Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah acted with nerve and cunning to disrupt Pharaoh's destructiveness and clear the path for deliverance. Peter rose to an occasion he did not see coming, naming with suddenly clear judgment who Jesus was and in return discovering his own true identity. What blessings, what currencies do you have in hand? Do you know what it takes for them to make for life?
Enter into worship. Sunday, 10:00am, online or in-person.
Readings: Exodus 1:8-2:10 † Psalm 124 † Romans 12:1-8 † Matthew 16:13-20
About the Art: Palmer, Samuel, 1805-1881. Magic Apple Tree, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=58401 [retrieved August 18, 2023]. Original source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Magic_Apple_Tree.jpg. See commentary at https://thevcs.org/be-transformed/fruitfulness-and-transfiguration.
Nevertheless she persisted…
There are at least two important models for faith that Matthew brings to us in this week’s story. There is, of course, Jesus who listens, learns, and changes. Our tradition may find these to be unfamiliar actions for Jesus. Even more so as we examine his initial response to the Canaanite woman which leaves much to be desired.
And then there’s this woman. Persistent. Tenacious. Humble and strong. Full of faith! Her commitment to seek help for those who are powerless to do so themselves puts us on notice of what we are both called to do and capable of doing.
She does not slink away. She refuses to be silenced until her daughter is healed. What has she and what has Jesus to teach us of faith in this time?
Enter into worship.
Readings: Genesis 45:1-15 † Psalm 133 † Romans 11:1-5, 29-32 † Matthew 15:21-28
About the Art: Watanabe, Sadao, 1913-1996. Woman of Canaan, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=57538 [retrieved August 6, 2023]. Original source: https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/woman-canaan-26809.
“Logos” by Mary Oliver
Why worry about the loaves and fishes?
If you say the right words, the wine expands.
If you say them with love
and the felt ferocity of that love
and the felt necessity of that love,
the fish explode into many.
Imagine him, speaking,
and don’t worry about what is reality,
or what is plain, or what is mysterious.
If you were there, it was all those things.
If you can imagine it, it is all those things.
Eat, drink, be happy.
Accept the miracle.
Accept, too, each spoken word
spoken with love.[i]
Why worry? Well, we have many reasons we could cite. But the invitation here, echoed in these stories of faith, reminds us that others have been where we are and worse, and found a way.
What might we discover as we look to their wisdom? What might we know as we lean into “each spoken word, spoken with love” and learn to speak with such truth ourselves? How might we be fed as we feed according to the example of Jesus?
Enter into worship. Sunday, 10:00am in-person or online.
Readings: Genesis 32:22-31 † Psalm 17:1-7, 15 † Romans 9:1-5 † Matthew 14:13-21
About the Art: Swanson, John August. Loaves and Fishes, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=56553 [retrieved July 31, 2023]. Original source: Estate of John August Swanson, https://www.johnaugustswanson.com/.
[i] Oliver, Mary. Devotions (p. 179). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
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