Worship Time
10:00 AM
1 Church Street
East Harwich, MA 02645
Tel: 508-432-3734

Genesis 45:1-14

45:1 Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Send everyone away from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it.

45:3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.   Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.   And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.   For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest.   God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.   So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

45:9 Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay.   You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have.   I will provide for you there–since there are five more years of famine to come–so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.

45:12 And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you.   You must tell my father how greatly I am honored in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.”   Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck.    And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.

Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
11:1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.  God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.

11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.  Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy.  For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.

Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28
15:10 Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”

15:12 Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?”

15:13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.”

15:15 But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.”

15:16 Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding?

Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?  But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, and slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

15:21 Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.

15:22 Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.”

15:24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”

15:26 He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”  She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

15:28 Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Rabbi Schwartz and Father O’Malley were at a diner enjoying lunch

Father O’Malley put down his ham and cheese sandwich and commented, “This sandwich is so good! Kosher dietary restrictions made sense in ancient times, but when are you going to join the modern age and eat delicious, wholesome food like this?

Without missing a beat, Rabbi Schwartz replied, “At your wedding.”

Mortal Wounds
Matthew 15:1-20
20 August 2023
The Rev Dr. Dianne ES Carpenter


The passage this morning has 2 parts.The interaction of Jesus with the Pharisees and the interaction of Jesus with the Canaanite woman.

The faith of the Canaanite woman is legendary – in fact, I shared one of my favorite reflections with you the first summer I arrived, and we worshipped in the parking lot.  Like the Canaanite woman, we are Lucky Dogs to be loved and blessed by the Lord!

I want to include the first 10 verses of chapter 15 this morning because it is the reason for verses 10-20.

Matthew 15 New International Version That Which Defiles

15 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’[a] and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[b] But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’[c]

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

As usual, Jesus has a scripture answer for the accusations of the religious leaders.  It is easy to assume this is a passage concerning the dietary laws if you begin at verse 20 but the issue is:

“Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

Not to belittle tradition, it was a tradition, not a “Law” that hand washing before breaking bread was required.  Jesus calls the Pharisees back to the “Law” of honoring Mother and Father – Commandment V and quotes Isaiah:  concerning the authority of traditions and the words we speak.

These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’[c]

This is what Jesus interprets for the crowds and disciples in vs 10-20!

First, Scripture has primacy and tradition is not as authoritative however, traditions are very powerful.

Tradition- at its best- is our attempt to enact scripture – an attempt – and as such is qualified by the intent.  I love tradition.  I change my vestments and the altar clothes to match the liturgical season.   I bring out the Christmas tree ornaments for the holiday.  I make special meals for birthdays.

But some interpretations of scripture have caused us to squish God’s diversity into molds of similarity and to deny people their God-given human rights.  Scripture has often been twisted to justify tradition and in order to serve self-interests.  Let me rephrase Jesus’ accusation of the Pharisee’s tradition.  On the basis of certain interpretations, we create traditions that have ranged from beneficial to heretical.  And these interpretations have sometimes divided us in our faith from our brothers and sisters.

Traditional justifications of slavery, homophobia, and the glass ceiling in employment as well as traditional male and female roles are all examples of traditions dominating practice and until questioned [oh no!] being given the authority of law in our public sector!

However, what grabbed my attention in this passage was Jesus’ interpretation of his interaction with the Pharisees:

15:17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?  But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles.  15:19 For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.   These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.

Remember the saying: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me!” This is what we were taught to say to people calling us names.  What we know today is that angry, hateful, racist, bullying, denigrating words Mortally Wound people who are valuable members of God’s handy work at the personal level and set the stage for injustice perpetuated at the social level.

Think back to when you have encountered a verbal attack on your person [ or when you have blurted out hateful accusations …]

Conrad Henri Roy III (September 12, 1995 – July 12, 2014) was an American teenager who died by suicide at the age of 18. His girlfriend, 17-year-old Michelle Carter, had encouraged him in text messages to kill himself. [The defense: protected free speech]

Racial slurs: n-word [lynchings] s word when Hispanic folk were outside their ghetto …. Canaanite ”dogs” etc.

Targeting weight…  family of origin [single parents etc.]

Hate speech, i.e. speech that promotes hatred toward an individual or group on the basis of a characteristic such as race, gender, sexuality, nationality, or religion, is known to cause considerable psychological and social harm to the members of the group targeted for hate.1 Nevertheless, in liberal societies, there is ongoing debate on whether hate speech should be legally restricted. For example, a common argument against restrictions on hate speech says that since such restrictions curtail freedom of speech, they cause more harm than they prevent.2 A no less common reply to this argument has it that the direct and indirect harms caused by hate speech are sufficiently great to justify legal restrictions on free speech.3  Stefan Rinner in Journal of Applied Philosophy

Name-calling and hurtful divisive language defile the speaker and pollutes the world we all live in.  Soliciting hate agreement as a rallying point is how the Klan fueled destructive social interactions and the “monster” Nazi hierarchy set out to exterminate all people who were not heterosexual Arians! –power politics of domination not freedom of speech justifications…

The defacing of Synagogues and Asian communities are not isolated instances. Hate language reinforces ‘us and them’ mentalities. Jesus called it correctly when he identified ways in which we destroy communities by labeling and acting cruelly toward one another.

We must identify the sewers of our common life and clean them up before they defile an already challenged environment! Amen.

1 Church St, Harwich, MA 02645
508 432-3734