This Sunday it is International Women’s Day. How wonderful that on this day we come to this passage in the Gospel according to Mark of the Syrophoenician woman’s encounter with Jesus (Mark 7:24-30). Of all the scenes of the life of Jesus recorded in the gospels, this must be among the most controversial, but also one of the most meaningful.
I admit that I have infused the sermon title – ‘the challenge to change’ – with an intentional ambiguity. It would be natural to presume that I will highlight the need for us to be open to being changed. This is important, and I will explore it with particular reference to Jesus in this scene, who was willing to revise his perspective on the boundaries of God’s mercy and his calling. As hard as we find his words to the woman, his example of being willing to be changed is surely equally challenging for us.
But even more I will focus upon the challenge to change … not ourselves, but others. It is the strength of this woman – who is desperate but does not despair, who holds out for an alternate reality and persists with that vision – that changes Jesus. Two characters in this story, and both are examples for us in our stories.
If you are in the area, we warmly invite you to join us this Sunday morning. Certified child care is offered during the service and a programme for young children also. There is free parking on the streets around (please note that the time-of-day restrictions on Clergy Street north of Queen are not in effect on Sundays) and in the surface civic lot just behind the church off Queen Street. There is a wheelchair lift inside the doors to St. Andrew’s Hall from the church parking lot mid way along Clergy Street, and hearing assist devices are available upon request from an usher.
Have a look at the Order of Service and bulletin below, and consider each hymn and prayer and announcement a personal invitation to join us in Christian worship, community and service.
Next Sunday we will gather to continue in worship of God … and to enjoy a congregational lunch after the service!