The opening story is about a boy who has been doing remote schooling and he gets to go back to Real
school. He’s been a lackadaisical student prior to Covid; he stared out the window and often didn’t hear
the teacher when questions were raised. Since Covid and remote learning at home, he has been going out
to help his mom plant flowers and sometimes the whole family sings at night. Going back to Real school,
he decides to try his best, to ask questions, to try to figure out answers; he isn’t just going to sit like a
lump, anymore. One day the teacher askes the children to define the word “Lackadaisical”… so the boy
thinnks, sort of chewing on each syllable: “lack… a… daisi… cal.” His hand shoots into the air: “I know, I
know! The definition of ‘Lackadaisical’ is ‘When you don’t have a musical about daisies!’” We define our
world by our experiences, by what we are taught, and by what we hope to achieve.
This scripture before us is a really, really hard scripture, partly because I’ve been talking about the Love
of God being ever-renewing, constant, how giving away love doesn’t diminish it. I’ve spoken about the
Miracle of the world, of each one of us, of Creation, and the miraculous love of all that is in it, and then,
and Then: here is this story where Jesus calls a woman a dog!!
Now, I’m not sure how many of the women out there have ever had the “B” word thrown at them –
probably most of us; this is an old, old story; it’s not new. And as Susan said, it shows Jesus’ humanity,
what he’s been taught. There are really good lessons here, but some of them come from the woman.
This idea that women are second class is an old, old story. It goes all the way back to the second story of
Creation in the Bible: “Women are supposed to have pain in birth, and men are supposed to work the land
and struggle at that job. And this is why…” It’s what we’ve all been carefully taught.
I looked for and found a song, from the 1949 musical “South Pacific:” “You’ve got to be taught to hate
and fear / You’ve got to be taught from year to year / It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear /
You’ve got to be carefully taught.// You’ve got to be taught to be afraid / Of people whose eyes are oddly
made / And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade / You’ve got to be carefully taught.// You’ve got to be
taught before it’s too late / Before you are six or seven or eight / To hate all the people your relatives hate
/ You’ve got to be carefully taught.”
Jesus in His humanity, in His being brought up as a young boy in Palestine, in Israel, in the Holy Land, in
a world where women were definitely second class, where you couldn’t even Look at a man if you were a
woman, where women were fit only for child bearing and water carrying and food making and used for
pleasure, and were not thought to be smart or strong or wise or worthy; He’d been carefully,
surrepticiously taught. The idea that I want to promote is this: We don’t have to live like this anymore.
A book I am now just reading, that will help with figuring out this injusttice and inequality is Caste, by
Isabela Wilkerson, about how we have inherited this racist/mysogenistic house of who gets access to the
goods of the world, and who doesn’t. It’s about the history of how we got to this place of inequality.
How some people are looked at as second class, disposable, not to be heard or respected, or honored. It
happens in this horrible scripture, where Jesus calls a pleading mother a dog. Because she’s a woman?
Jesus had already healed a non-Jew: a Roman Centurian, who came to Jesus to heal his beloved servant.
And before that, a Synagogue leader had come to ask Jesus to heal his 12 year old daughter, and as he
was going, a woman who had been kicked out of her family, out of her synagogue, out of her community
because some little piece of placenta was still in her womb (maybe), thought to herself, “That man has so
much love and healing in him, if I just touch the hem of his garment, I’ll be healed,” and she did; she got
in the crowd (tho’ she wasn’t supposed to because she was “unclean”), and she touched the hem of His
garment and took power from him, without asking, and Jesus Knew and asked, “Which woman touched
me?” And she came and knelt at this feet, not looking up, and told him about her illness and how she’d
lost everything, and He told her, “Daughter, Your faith has made you well.”
The Rev. James Lawosn spoke about how the power of Christian love has never been realized. He told of
how he strategized some of the early Civil Rights demonstrations (students at lunch counters; people
riding buses down South from up North), and that he met with a group of 9 young people who were
going to integrate an all white Highschool. James met with the 9 and asked them if they were afraid and
they said “Yes, because we cannot fight back; we cannot defend ourselves.” James Lawson told them to
absolutely fight back, to absolutely defend themselves, just to not use the methods of the people who were
trying to hurt them. He told them that they could teach the people that, not only were these 9 young
people human, with minds and souls, but so were the people who were mistreating them.
There was a young woman among the 9 named Melba who feared the “bombs.” White kids would wrap
up a marble or a small stone in foil or paper, and Throw it at the Black kids, and at the White kids who
supported and defended them. Those bombs hurt, caused bruises. One day Melba walked into a
classroom, and a “bomb” went whizzing by her head, hitting the board and falling to the ground. She
kept thinking to herself, “What can I do? How can I defend myself without using his methods?” And
she picked up the little bomb, this hard piece of stone and she turned and looked at the boy who had
thrown it, and she smiled at him, and she walked over to his desk, and, still smiling, put his little bomb on
his desk. And then she sat down. She didn’t say a word to him, just smiled. He never threw another
“bomb” at anyone. He became one of those White kids who defended the Black kids.
You know in Scripture where Jesus says if someone takes your coat, give them the shirt off your back;
give them everything you’ve got? It turns out the person looking on your nakedness is more sinful than
you are to be naked. Or the place where Jesus says if someone has you go a mile, go two; that’s because
the Roman soldiers could make anyone carry anything for them, but only for a mile. The roads were well
marked. So if you went two miles, the soldier would know that you Chose to go the extra mile, and, that
he could get in trouble for it. You just reminded the offender not only of Your humanity, but of his. Or if
someone slaps you across the face, backhanding you, it means that person thinks they are better than you:
a parent to a child, a husband to a wife, a master to a slave. So if you are in the less-than position, and
you turn the other cheek, that hitting person will have to slap you or hit you outright. That makes you
their equal. These are the lessons of the Civil Rights movement, when the Black folks were hosed, or
when the dogs attacked them, or when they had salt or sugar poured over their heads at lunch counters, or
when people beat them. John Lewis had his scull cracked open when he was beat after crossing that
bridge. This is the way the woman dealt with Jesus.
He called her a dog and she didn’t call him anything nasty in return. Her heart was full of love for her
daughter, that’s why I had the first part of the scripture read today. “It’s not what goes in your mouth, but
what comes out of it.” Her heart was full of love for her daughter, so all her words were for her
daaughter’s healing. Some of us have broken hearts, bent hearts, hearts with holes in them, and out comes
bitterness, fear and anger. Some of us have been very carefully taught, and that messes with our hearts
and what comes out is prejudice, hatred and injustice. But God’s love, that ever-renewing spring within
every person, leads to healing. In Chapter 6 of Matthew, we are reminded not to worry about what we’re
going to eat or what we’re going to wear. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness, and
all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
I’ve read three books this week, all about older folks looking back at their lives saying, “Why didn’t I see
the joy in that moment? Why was I covering up the beauty of that moment with anger, or sorrow or
regret? Why didn’t I know about the love, the joy underneath? It would have helped me get through that
difficult time.” A lot of it has to do with what we’re taught. I saw a movie this week, “The Sapphires,” a
story of some Aboriginies from Austalia who sang for the soldiers in Viet Nam in 1968. And I learned
that until 1967!!, the aboriginies/the indigenous people of Austrailia, were considered “Flora and Fauna”
in the official Australian records. Not human, not even animals, “Flora and Fauna.”
That movie and those three books I read, Twenty, Live Coal in the Sea, and Severed Wasp, and the vidow
play from Group Rep Theater Company, Tuesdays with Morrie, and all the talks/sermons I heard/watched
on line with Rev. James Lawson.. they all had one thing in common: they are all about Love. About
Loving. About how it doesn’t matter where you are in the hierarchy, or how much money you make, but
about the importance of Cherishing one another and the Life within and outside us.
There are two things from the woman and two things from Jesus that we can learn from this scripture.
The first lesson of the woman is this: you can defend yourself without doing what the other guy does:
hollering or calling names or hitting. There are ways to teach people things about how to be human,
respecting the Spirit within, the Love within, without using violence or trash talking the other team. Out
of her heart came a prayer for her daughter, whom she loved. She was willing to do anything for her, up
to being killed, so the words of her mouth were full of humility and love. She reminded Jesus of her
sacredness by acknowledging the truth of His words, and she reminded Jesus of His sacredness; that His
job was Not just to the children of Israel, but to All the children of the world, spoken in love.
lesson is that God takes care of everybody – the children and the dogs have the same Master.
When you give, when you love, when you offer, when you share, you don’t loose what you have; we need
not worry about loosing our stuff when we share what God gives us.. We need not worry that if we give
something away, it diminishes what we have. It’s not a zero sum game; it’s not a pie. Stephen Hawking
proved that God is boundaryless; boundless.
The two lessons from Jesus are that we need to listen to those who are crying for Mercy, even the ones we
think of as less-than. Even the ones we have been carefully taught to hate, discredit, renounce, disrespect,
or even kill. As He listened to the one called less than, He re-taught Himself about His true ministry, He
remembered that God provides for all; Loves all. Though He had been Carefully Taught.
Jesus teaches us that when we listen and we seek to understand; we can change and further the Kin-dom
of Heaven. He really heard her; He understood that God is Father/Mother to everyone. His Spirit of
Love and healing overcame His humanity and its careful teachings. The proof is that before he met this
woman, He had fed 5000 men + women and children, and they were supposedly all Jewish; after He met
her, He fed another 4000 men + women and children, who were supposedly all Gentile.
He also taught women: in John 20, when Mary kneels before the man, not looking up, whom she assumes
is the gardener, and he calls her name, she calls him, “Rabbouni” which means MY teacher. Thanks Be
To God, AMEN
Blessings, Pastor Bethany
Remember to think about what your vision of the Kin-dom of Heaven looks like, and remember a Miracle
in your life (or two or three, or more)… Covid homework! Dont’ be Lackadaisical!
In His Love, B