What are the seven of the most well-known words in church?
Tim Zingale points out that about 500 years before Jesus was born, a group of people emerged whose interest was the letter of the law. As time passed, they developed 613 rules that regulated Jewish life down to the smallest details. They redefined God’s decrees according to their own way of thinking and demanded that everybody live accordingly. They Let’s see if they sound familiar to you. WE’VE NEVER DONE IT THAT WAY BEFORE. Tradition is a good thing. The liturgy that we use for our Sunday worship service has been used for hundreds of years. It utilizes many passages from scripture. Last week we heard that many followers were turning away from Jesus, and he asked the twelve if they were going to leave as well. Peter responded – Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Do these words from John 6 sound familiar? Yes, we sing them every week. And that’s just one example. The whole service is designed and focused so that we can receive the good news of the gospel – in which Christ comes to us and distributes his gifts of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life. As we are blessed with those gifts we are renewed and strengthened in our faith and equipped to live out our faith in our daily lives. We begin our services with confession and forgiveness so that we might receive the good news with a clear conscience. The Old Testament, psalm and New Testament lessons were all selected to highlight the theme of the gospel message. The hymns are selected to do the same. The whole service points to Jesus and what He has done and is doing for you and me. Forgiveness – for you, salvation – for you, eternal life - for you. All because of God’s love – for you This tradition is designed to be in service of God’s mission in the world. These traditions – along with traditions of our own making - can be carried out as giving lip service to God when our hearts are far from him. The question to ask is who do our actions glorify? Who do they point to? When we do things are we drawing attention to ourselves - pointing to ourselves or to God. Are we seeking love, approval, and applause – do we want a gold star because we did such a fine job or are we serving our neighbor and pointing to God? The pharisees and scribes had come to town to check out Jesus. Some of them were known to use traditions to point to themselves – to glorify themselves – and to judge others. replied - Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites. Their 613 rules originally might have been designed to honor God and to point people to God. But now they were being used to point to themselves and stand in judgment of others. Jesus went on to point out how they were paying more attention to their own tradition than they were to God’s word – telling people to take what they would use to honor and care for their father and mother and to give it as an offering to God. I imagine we can all think of people who’ve used church traditions to lord it over others and to point to themselves. Church kitchen wars and carpet wars are famous. Two different churches reported fights over the type of coffee. In one of the churches, they moved from Folgers to a stronger Starbucks brand. In the other church, they simply moved to a stronger blend. The argument got so heated that members left. Really, leaving your church family, your brothers and sisters in Christ over coffee. We need to do it this way - we can’t do it any differently because – WE’VE NEVER DONE IT THAT WAY BEFORE. I heard a story recently about a grandpa who really slept soundly during his afternoon nap. As he was snoring away his grandkids carefully rubbed limburger cheese into his moustache. How they managed that without waking him I’ll never know. Anyway, he woke up from his nap and said holy mackerel this room stinks. Then he went into the kitchen and said this room stinks too. He went into practically every room in the house and in each room he said this room really stinks. But the problem wasn’t the odor in the room, he was the one who stunk. The point is that we can smell unrighteousness all around us but just like every other sin it’s difficult to smell it on ourselves. Yes, we all know folks who are really pharisees. And it’s easy to stand in judgment of them. But if truth be told there are times when most of us – maybe all of us think the way we’ve always done things is the right way. Maybe it has to do with church, maybe with the way we drive. In all the ways we do practically anything, there are opportunities for self-righteousness. We may be looking at others in search for self-righteousness when it’s right here under our noses. There are varying degrees of self-righteousness in all of us. But there’s one who covers all our self-righteousness with his own true righteousness. But there’s one whose blood covers all our judging and condemnation of others. Jesus loves you and me so much that he poured out his blood on a cross for all our pointing to ourselves. Many times, our striving for acceptance, approval, applause – our desire for that gold star - is searching for love and approval that has never been spoken to us. And so, this morning I want to speak truth to you. Not my truth God’s truth. God loves you God accepts you God approves of you. God created you just the way He wanted. God wanted you and chose you to be part of His family. Jesus bled and died to make YOU part of His church. Jesus takes all our self-righteousness all our judgment and in return gives us all his great wonderful gifts - forgiveness, salvation, eternal life. Once again, this morning by way of the Holy Spirit and God’s Holy Word, Jesus gives you not only his gifts but his very self. Amen ...accused anybody who didn’t follow these rules of not honoring God. They utilized their traditions to glorify themselves and to judge others. Washing your hands before you eat is always a good idea. This last year we’ve washed and disinfected our hands like never before. But they developed a very elaborate hand-washing law. Before they ate, 1½ egg-shells of water had to be poured over the hands. But this couldn’t happen in just any manner. It had to be done just so. The hands were held with the finger-tips upwards. The 1½ eggshells of water was then poured over them until it ran down the wrists. Each palm was then cleansed with the fist of the other. Then, the hands were held with the fingertips pointing downwards. Water was poured on them from the wrists downwards so that ran off at the fingertips. This was not a good scrub for cleanliness this was a ritual. It had to be done even if a person’s hands were spotless. You see, to them it was needed in order to please God. Not to do it exactly this way was sin. (Adapted from a sermon by Tim Zingale, SermonCentral.com). So when the Pharisees and Scribes saw that Jesus’ disciples did not wash their hands before they sat down to eat, they went nuts. Jesus! “You are not teaching your disciples to honor God like our ancestors did.” Jesus looked right into their hearts and ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me.
7 And in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
8 Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
First Reading - Isaiah 29:11-19
It is possible for people to be deeply religious, yet have little or no heart for God. We hate to admit it, but this is the way of some in our congregations, is sometimes our own situations, and was the case with Israel when Isaiah was a prophet. The religious things meant nothing, for it brought them no nearer to the Lord, his word, or his ways. Proof of this is not doing God's will and thinking God is none the wiser. Nevertheless, God promises to thwart the so-called wisdom of people, even if they are his chosen people.
Psalm - Psalm 14:1-7
The psalmist warns people against the foolishness of unbelief. Atheism has been around for a long time and is still with us today. Sometimes this fool is not the one who says aloud that there is no God, but the one who says it in his heart. The Lord looks among us to see if there is anyone who believes, anyone who seeks his will. When the psalmist sang, the faithful were few and far between. The Lord still brings salvation for the poor in spirit, for those who confess their need of God's Savior.
Second Reading - Ephesians 5:22-33
Throughout Paul's talk of the submission and love appropriate to wives and husbands, the apostle uses religious terminology. The husband is the head and the wife the body, just as Christ is the head of the church, his body. Somehow the sacrificial love of a husband for his wife is like the sanctifying act of Christ for his beloved church. Marriage is a vivid illustration of the mystery of God's relationship with his people.
Gospel - Mark 7:1-13
It is a sad irony that Jesus' disciples were eating with the Son of God, but that all the Pharisees could appreciate was the disciples had failed to wash their hands before eating. Certainly, the Pharisees had ceremonially cleansed their own hands first—and wanted to be sure Rabbi Jesus had noticed their pure religious practice. This is the way of religion: Look at me! Look at me! The way of faith looks to God.
Sermon from Pr. Tom 8-22-21 and readings & Gospil From Sola PUBLISHING