August 13, 2011

The Dog Scraps Woman

Filed under: Lectionary — by Lisa Meeder Turnbull @ 2:07 pm

This week’s reading is my absolute favorite Gospel story. I can never remember the book and chapter, where it fits in Jesus’ ministry, or who the woman is, so I just end up saying, “Oh, you know the story I mean…the dog scraps woman.” What’s funny about that is that it’s not even the woman who makes this story my favorite—I love this story because I love Grumpy Jesus.

Grumpy Jesus is sick of it. He’s become a celebrity. Everywhere he goes he is recognized and mobbed. He comes up with a quick and convenient excuse to push this woman away. Jesus’ human nature gains credibility for me; Grumpy Jesus makes Nice Jesus more complete.

Yet even Grumpy Jesus models compassion by simply keeping an open mind. She challenges; he listens. She has a point. He sees where she’s coming from. How comforting is it to us, regardless of our order of ministry, to realize that even Jesus didn’t always have a clear picture of vocation? Even Jesus sometimes had to make it up as he went along. Even Jesus had to stay in discernment mode as his ministry unfolded.

In this one simple gesture of compassion and healing, we see an emerging and expanding ministry. I see this all the time in our congregations—we know who we are, but our community has changed so much. That’s a hard place for congregations to be. When history, tradition, and identity are challenged, it takes a lot of courage—and a lot of faith—to hold oneself open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

If it weren’t for the dog scraps woman, Jesus would have just carried on with his work among the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Thanks to her, we are able to follow a different example of Jesus, opening our minds and hearts as the Holy Spirit challenges us and pulls us out of our comfort zones and beyond our self-imposed boundaries. Thanks to her, we are members and leaders of learning, growing, creative and responsive congregations in which Christ is sought and served in ever new and exciting ways.

Praise to you, Lord Christ

(and Praise to you as well, Dog Scraps Woman!)


1 Comment »

  1. Such a beautiful commentary on this sometimes puzzling piece of the Gospel. I agree that the “grumpy Jesus” gives us all hope….and that blessed dog woman steers him in a direction that benefits us all. We need to listen to the sometimes annoying voices….

    Comment by Joline — August 15, 2011 @ 11:36 am |Reply

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