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Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost "Lost Sheep and Faithful Dogs"

"Outcasts & Insiders - Stretching the Limits" by Pr. Jim

August 16, 2020



“Lost Sheep and Faithful Dogs”

The Rev. James A. Kabel, Intentional Interim Pastor


THEME of The Day

In Isaiah we hear that God’s house shall be a house of prayer for all people and that God will gather the outcasts of Israel. The Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel is a Gentile, an outsider, who in unflinching in her request that Jesus heal her daughter.

As Jesus commends her bold faith, how might Grace Lutheran extend its mission and ministry to those on the margins of society? In our gathering around Word and Sacrament we receive strength to be signs and witnesses of God’s kingdom that embraces all who seek him and call upon his Name. All are welcome in this place.

May God bless your worship this morning.


In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“As I live,” says the Lord God, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that

the wicked turn from their ways and live.”

               If we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins, and

cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Is prejudice a problem? Is pride? How inclusive and welcoming are we?

+ A Brief Silence for Reflection +

Most merciful God, we confess to you our sinfulness, and our helplessness to escape from it. We regard ourselves more worthy than others. We close our doors to them; we close our hand and hearts, as well. We beg your mercy for

the sake of Jesus Christ, your Son. Forgive us, renew us, and let your light

shine upon us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to

the glory of your holy Name. Amen.

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in

him may not perish but have eternal life. To those who believe in Jesus Christ, the heavenly Father gives the Holy Spirit that they may become children of God. Rejoice

in the Lord, your sins are forgiven in the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of

the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Our God has turned to us and we shall live.

   Thanks be to God!


In peace, let us pray to the Lord

     Lord, have mercy.

For the reign of God, and for peace throughout the world,

let us pray to the Lord.

     Lord, have mercy.

For your people here, who have come to give you praise,

for the strength to live your Word, let us pray to the Lord.

     Lord, have mercy.

Help, save and defend us, O God.



O God, your arms reach out to embrace all those who call upon you. Teach us as disciples of your Son to love the world with compassion and constancy, that your Name may be known throughout all the earth; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

+ By God’s grace, all are welcome. +

FIRST LESSON         Isaiah 56:1, 6-8

[The prophet calls upon Israel to do justice in view of God’s imminent intervention to save. Righteousness and obedience define who belongs to the Israelite community—not race, nationality, or any other category.’

Thus says the LORD: “Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance revealed. And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, all

who keep the Sabbath, and no not profane it, and hold fast my covenant—these I will

bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer, their burnt offering and their sacrifices will be accepted at my altar; for my house shall be called

a house of prayer for all peoples.” Thus says the LORD GOD, who gathers the

outcasts of Israel, “I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.”

The Word of the Lord.   Thanks be to God!

SECOND LESSON    Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32

[God has not rejected Israel. Rather, the call and gifts of God are irrevocable so that, while all have been disobedient, God has mercy upon all.]

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his

people who he foreknew….

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to

God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For

God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

HOLY GOSPEL         Matthew 15:[10-20], 21-28

[Jesus teaches his disciples that true purity is a matter of the heart rather than outward religious observances. Almost immediately, this teaching is tested when a woman considered to be a religious outsider approaches him for help.]

[Jesus]called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Then the disciples approached him and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He answered them, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides to the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to

us.” Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth goes into the stomach, and goes out to the sewer? But what comes out

of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”]

Jesus withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us. He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish."

The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.

HOMILY   Outcasts & Insiders – Stretching the Limits     

Text: The Gospel Lesson Pr. Jim

“Lost Sheep & Faithful Dogs Sunday”

Isaiah 56:1, 6-8; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:(10-20) 21-28

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

Outpost versus Ranch … Mission versus Maintenance … inclusive versus exclusive … centripetal (drawing in) versus centrifugal (sending out) … these are just some of the watchwords of church growth analysts, writers, and theologians. And, if any lessons deal with inclusive and centripetal concepts of mission and ministry, those assigned for today do. In no uncertain terms, today’s lessons would have us remember that anyone is welcome to come to the Lord and that anyone can come from anywhere.

That was something the Children of Israel had forgotten about their chosen-ness. They had failed to understand and remember the implications of the blessing given to Abraham.

“I will make you a great nation,” God promised Abraham, “and I will bless you;

I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing … and all the people on

earth will be blessed through you [Genesis 12:2&3]”.

What God intended to be an inclusive blessing became an exclusive one. And here in the words of Isaiah that form today’s First Lesson, the children of Israel are called to remember the inclusive nature of God’s call for all to be His children. Reading within the wider context of the lesson, Isaiah reminds an exilic people that all who have been excluded from temple worship—foreigners, eunuchs, outcasts—all are welcome to offer their sacrifice and praise to God in the temple. God would include all who keep the Sabbath and firmly hold to His promises.

“I,” says the Lord, “I will gather still others beside those already gathered …

for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations [Isaiah 51:7].”

But the easier part of change is always not to change at all. And so, they did not change after the exile. If anything, Israel became even more rigid and exclusive. The harsh lesson of exile with all its realities wasn’t understood … and if it ever was, it wasn’t for very long.

Today’s Gospel Lesson reaffirms that exclusive understanding on the part of the disciples.

Jesus and his disciples had left Galilee and gone into the Gentile territory of what is now Lebanon. They went there to get away from the press of the crowds and rest awhile. Up to this point, Matthew tells us that Jesus had been unsuccessful in finding any respite. But I think there is something more here.

If you read the gospel of Matthew with the understanding that it is a catechetical book to instruct the Early Church in discipleship, you discover that chapter 15 is a pivotal point in Jesus’ ministry. Reading between the lines with that in mind, it was time to teach the disciples something about the Kingdom and its inclusive nature. A distraught stranger … a foreign woman—a Canaanite, no less … confronts Jesus and the disciples and pleads for help with such persistence and insistence that Jesus finally responds.

“Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David,” she says, “my daughter has a demon

and is in terrible condition [Matthew 15:22].”

Perhaps at this point, Jesus glances around quickly to make sure that He has the disciples’ attention, for He wants them to hear what He is about to say. However, He says something rather unexpected and startling. “I have been sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” In other words, He seems to be saying, “Get lost. Don’t you know that I can’t do this for you because My help is only to be given to the people of Israel?”

I suspect the disciples all nodded in agreement. Jesus has just said precisely what they … and their ancestors … have always believed and assumed to be true. The Messiah belongs to them. And others? Well, they are outsiders—foreigners and outcasts who have no part in this promise and blessing by birth.

But notice, the Canaanite woman doesn’t accept this. She won’t believe it. She refuses to give in to exclusiveness. Instead, she runs forward, kneels before Jesus and pleads, “Lord, help me.” And perhaps again, Jesus looks out the corner of His eye to see what effect all this is having on the disciples. Then, He replies, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” I have the feeling Peter, Andrew and all the rest are again nodding and agreeing: “Yes … just as we thought.”

Now in these strange and uncharacteristic statements of our Lord, what exactly was He doing? It seems clear that Jesus wants His disciples to hear … In no uncertain terms … what the language of exclusiveness sounds like. Jesus, you see, is building on contrast. He is about to teach His disciples … and us … some Kingdom truths:

First … faith endures silence. Jesus didn’t answer the woman’s first cry for help. And who among us hasn’t experienced this puzzling and often distressing silence when we call to God in prayer. Silence … it’s a reality … one that we must not be offended by or be put off by. For, silence is not a void. Silence is not as though God has abandoned us and there is nothing to which our faith can cling. Rather, faith holds fast to Christ. Our faith trusts His promises. We live by faith and faith comes by hearing the Good News that God is for us as our Redeemer and Refuge. Christ is God’s “Yes and Amen” to us—and that is enough for faith to receive … enough to dispel the silence … enough to erase barriers.

Secondly, Jesus teaches that faith bears rebuke. The disciples were tired of the Canaanite woman. So, they tried to turn her away. But the woman wouldn’t let the disciples turn her into a nuisance. Great faith takes God at His word and brings every thought and need before Him. From the days of the apostles to now, faith … great and small … has empowered The Church. Faith makes us bold and daring in our trust as God’s people. It is this boldness and trust that we are called to again this day.

Lastly, faith crosses boundaries. There are so many to cross because of our sinfulness and pride! Barriers go up everywhere: race … class … language … culture … age … gender … opinions … private agendas … and above all, the barrier of doubt and unbelief. They all wall us off from God and each other. They all keep us floundering. But faith crosses those boundaries … even as the Canaanite woman crossed them. On this 11th Sunday after Pentecost, we are to be boundary-crossing Christians … breaking down the barriers that divide us. Faith that is great in God’s eyes is one that is focused on The Christ of the Cross … who draws all people to himself with outstretched arms.

Faith, you see, is the key to stepping out of the box … stepping outside our comfort zone and crossing boundaries. Faith is the key to shifting paradigms … moving from exclusiveness to inclusiveness … from maintenance to mission … from being served to serving.

WE, good people, are blessed to be a blessing.

“I,” says the Lord, “I will gather still others beside those already gathered …

for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations [Isaiah 51:7].”

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +


I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day He rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven

and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life + everlasting. Amen  


With the whole people of God, let us join in prayer for The Church, the world, and all of God’s creation.


Lord, you gather The Church to be part of your mission as ambassadors of Jesus Christ. As Jesus acknowledged the great faith of a woman outside his people, help your Church discover and find blessings in the faith of people we might reject or marginalize. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

You have blessed us with the bounty of the earth. Grant your grace to all your creatures, that the earth will flourish. Relieve waterways choked by garbage and debris, renew soils stripped of nutrients, and refresh the air all creatures need to live. Provide needed rains and weather conditions to bring all wildfires under control. Protect all firefighters as they seek to manage further devastation caused by all of the current burns. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

You call the nations to be glad and sing for joy. Let your ways be made known among all the nations of the world, now divided by competing interests, contending alliances, and consumed by worry. Guide all world leaders to build trust with each other. Bridge the chasms that divide

us as a nation during these days of protests and civil unrest; bring calm to our anxiousness and bless us with the necessary healing and change that only you can give. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

You show unexpected mercy, kindness, and generosity. We pray for those who do not have enough, for outcasts and those marginalize in our villages, towns, and cities, and for those who need your healing especially your servants John and Shari who are under doctor’s care, together with those we name in our hearts with your love, surround those of our parish who are homebound especially Sharon, Joyce, Richard & Doris, Rusty, Bonnie, Vernia, and Elma. Assure them of our love and prayers for them. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

You have gathered us around Word and Sacrament to be your on-going presence. Give our congregation such a welcoming heart, that our words and actions may extend your free and abundant hospitality to all whom we encounter. Refresh us with new dreams of being your people in this time and place. As we return to the call process, help us to discern your will for

us in seeking an undershepherd to join us in mission and ministry so that in all things your

good and gracious will may be done. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Lord of life, we give you thanks for all the saints who have gone before us with the sign of faith and now rest from their labors. Remind us of everything they have taught in your Name, that strengthened by their examples we may faithfully give witness to your Name until we, too, are gathered together with all your saints in your eternal presence. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Receive our prayers, merciful God, and dwell in us richly, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Blessed are you, O holy God: You are the life and light of all.

By your powerful word you created all things.

Through the prophets you call your people to be

a light to the nations.

Blessed are you for Jesus, your Son, he is your light shining

in our darkness and revealing to us your mercy and might.


Through him all glory and honor are yours, Almighty Father, with the Holy

Spirit, in your holy Church, both now and forever. Amen.


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

and the power and the glory

forever and ever. Amen.


The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.

The Lord look upon you with favor and give you + peace. Amen.


STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: God commands us to love our neighbors and to express that love through our actions, not because of coercion but freely because we want to do so. Martin Luther describes what our actions with our neighbors should look like. A Christian will “take upon himself the form of a servant… and to serve, help, and in every way deal with his neighbor as he sees that God through Christ has dealt and still deals with him. This he should do freely, having regard for nothing but divine approval. He ought to think… ‘I will therefore give myself as a Christ to my neighbor, just as Christ offered Himself to me.” With the guidance and the strength of the Holy Spirit working in our lives, we can be the neighbors that God wants us to be.

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