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O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Blessed are you, creator of all,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
As your dawn renews the face of the earth
bringing light and life to all creation,
may we rejoice in this day you have made;
as we wake refreshed from the depths of sleep,
open our eyes to behold your presence
and strengthen our hands to do your will,
that the world may rejoice and give you praise.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.
Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. 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.’ Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go – the demon has left your daughter.’ So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
The woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin.
Today, probably more than at any other time in human history, we find ourselves having to ‘prove our identity’. That notion of identity seems to be the foundation upon which almost every transaction in our daily lives is based. We need to prove our names, our addresses, our nationality on a regular basis. Even when we are in need of medical attention, we might be asked to prove who we are before treatment can be offered. Furthermore, our answers to these questions are no longer deemed to be adequate. We are left feeling that our personal knowledge of such matters cannot be trusted, we have to produce all of those documents to ‘prove’ that we are telling the truth, and not up to no good! Of course, there are those who steal the identities of others for nefarious reasons, but do I really need to prove the same things over and over again, every time I speak to the same person in the same organisation?
In today’s reading we are given information about a woman’s identity. We are not given her name, that which makes her an individual, but we are told her religion and her nationality. She is a gentile; that means that she is not Jewish. We are told that she is Syrophoenician; that means she is a foreigner and, therefore, probably not to be trusted! We are also told, as we read between the lines, that she has faith in Jesus. Of course, there is another detail in today’s reading that is often overlooked … Jesus went away to the region of Tyre, a non-Jewish region. When we consider today’s reading in that context we might find it easier to grasp that Jesus’ mission is to all people, and not just a chosen few. It should also help us to grasp that our mission is also to all people, and not just the chosen few we get on with!
It is not for us to judge others. It is not for us to consider whether their identities make them worthy of God’s love. It is not for us to turn our backs on those who wish to draw near to Christ.
Let us pray for openness of hand, heart and mind as we journey through our daily lives. Let us pray that through our actions, our thoughts and our words others might know themselves to be in the loving presence of Christ. Let us pray we might recognize our own unworthiness as we extend the hand of love and service to all … even the ones we struggle to like!
In peace, let us pray to Jesus our Lord,
who ever lives to make intercession for us.
Saviour of the world,
be present in all places of suffering, violence and pain,
and bring hope even in the darkest night.
Inspire us to continue your work of reconciliation today.
Lord of the Church,
empower by your Spirit all Christian people,
and the work of your Church in every land.
Give us grace to proclaim the gospel joyfully in word and deed.
Shepherd and Guardian of our souls,
guide and enable all who lead and serve this community
and those on whom we depend for our daily needs.
Grant that we may seek the peace and welfare of this place.
stretch out your hand to bring comfort, wholeness and peace
to all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit.
Fill us with compassion, that we may be channels of
your healing love.
Conqueror of death,
remember for good those whom we love but see no longer.
Help us to live this day in the sure and certain hope of
your eternal victory.
Let us commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray,
to the mercy and protection of God.
whose Son went among the crowds
and brought healing with his touch:
help us to show his love,
in your Church as we gather together,
and by our lives as they are transformed
into the image of Christ our Lord.
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The Lord bless us and watch over us,
the Lord make his face shine upon us
and be gracious to us,
the Lord look kindly on us
and give us peace;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always.