Wade in the Water

Posted by on Mar 17, 2015 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith
Rev. Rita S. Platt
February 22, 2015
“Wade in the Water”

Meditation for the 1st Sunday in Lent

Today is the first Sunday in Lent.  Because of the weather our Ash Wednesday service had to be cancelled, so this is the beginning of our Lenten journey. Often when you think of Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season, the images of sack cloth and ashes come to mind. But what you may not know is that in the early church Lent was a time to prepare for Baptism; Baptism that would occur on Easter. When we think of Baptism, a different image comes to our minds – water.

Shallow waters are where non-swimmers feel safe…  where people wade and wait. It is a place where people test the climate.

Deep waters can be scary, dangerous, and exciting!   It is a place to strive toward …deep relationships …deep connections…deep understandings. After all, deep waters are where we find mystery…where we find deep, almost unimaginable diversity…where we can be vulnerable …where there is enough space to create deep roots…where people plunge and take chances.

Lent is about going deeper.

We learn from nature that what happens in shallow waters has a lasting effect on the deep. Small talk happens in shallow waters; it is where people build up trust and see if they want to take a relationship deeper. Sometimes   “sayings,” are said in shallow waters to be funny; but sometimes they are not.

In the gospel of Mark the 7th chapter, beginning with verse 24, we read, “Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre.” Tyre borders Galilee on the northwest.

He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there, yet he could not escape notice.  But a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.  He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”  But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

A tired Jesus calls a Syrophoenician woman a dog, a “saying” that perhaps gives us a glimpse of the way it was. In his culture (Jesus is a Jew) there was an “us” and “them.”  An “us” and “them” is not part of the deep and expansive love that God has planned for us.

What was it like for this woman?   What was it like for her to confront Jesus so pointedly?

“Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the crumbs.”   What was she feeling?

“Let the children be fed first.”

“The Americans need to get the jobs first.”

“We need to take care of our own.”

It’s easy to say those things. We might remember a time we have made similar statements. It’s easy to agree; unless you are the one left out – unless you are searching for the deep and expansive love that God has planned for us.

No water is too shallow or too deep; we can always get drawn in deeper. Life evolves in deep water, it changes, becomes stronger and more adaptable.

Mark 7:31 “Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis.  They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be

opened.”  And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.

Now we wait in shallow waters for God to expand our understandings of life, love, and the gospels. This Lent are we willing to go deeper?

Mark 7 began this way:

1 Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them.  (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me;  in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’  You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”

Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition!  For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother;’ and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’  But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God— then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”

 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand:  there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”

This Lent our focus is going to be on this Radical Jesus – the one who wasn’t afraid to confront – the One who invites us not to join a religion – but to be a part of a life giving movement. If we are

going to be a part of his revolutionary movement, will it require us to go deeper? The question we must answer is “Are we willing to begin this journey.. step out risk everything..or do we want to play it safe?”   How will we respond? The choice is up to you.