Lectionary - Ordinary 20 Year A
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Genesis 45:1-15 Joseph reveals himself to his brothers
Psalm 133 When kindred dwell together in unity
Romans 11:1,2a,29-32 God has not rejected his people
Matthew 15:(10-20)21-28 The Canaanite woman and Jesus' mission to Israel

Possible Hymns
(Numbers refer to The Australian Hymn Book and Sing Alleluia.)
SA 14 Brother, sister, let me serve you
2 Father, we praise you, now the night is over
16 The Lord's my shepherd
51 Father, in whom we live
93 God is love, let heaven adore him
115 Let us sing to the God of salvation
132 I know that my Redeemer
136 Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
142 Father, whose everlasting love
191 Christ is the world's light
379 God of mercy, God of grace
412 Awake, awake: fling of the night
431 Happy are thy servants, Lord
503 O brother man fold to thy heart thy brother
531 When we walk with the Lord
544 O crucified Redeemer
552 Have faith in God my heart

Sermon summary (click here for complete sermon)

The general saviour of mankind

The story of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15 (21-28) is full of interesting questions and challenges. Do you think Jesus really changed his mind? Could he ever have been wrong? What did his being the Messiah mean for other nations? What happened when the Canaanite woman sought his help speaks to questions of central concern to Christian people.

Matthew tells the story a little differently from the way that Mark (7:24-30). He links the story with the previous discussion of dietary laws in which Jesus was in conflict with the Jewish authorities.(Matthew 15:10-20). The sayings of Jesus about such things would be likely to be recalled together with the disciples' memory of the way that he treated people who were not Jewish.

It was not a simple matter of saying that being Jewish did not matter, or that Gentiles could be included in the kingdom that Jesus was to establish. She saw him as the Lord of the Gentiles (that is, of the nations) as well as the Jews and thus believed that the rule of the Messiah was not limited to the old kingdom of David. (cf Colossians 1, Ephesians 1, Hebrews 1).

That is not all. He was not to be detached from his Jewish origins. Canaanite woman believed that he was not only a universal Lord whom she could worship, for she knelt before him (Matthew 15:25), but that he was at the same time the Messiah of Israel, the "Son of David"? You might ask, "does that matter?" (Cf. John 4:22) It is the witness of the apostles and the whole of scripture that it does matter. It was not accidental that the Lord of all was the Messiah long expected and promised in the nation of Israel. It was part of the incarnation.

If you can, then, accept his Messiahship along with the limitation of his complete involvement in human life as a servant, emptied of his glory (Phil 2:6-8), at a particular time and place, then some of the puzzles in the story of the Canaanite woman start to come into focus. I would ask you to see him there in that situation in his full humanity as a man of that time and place.

The remarkable thing was not that, as a Jew, Jesus believed that the children of Israel should be the first receive the gifts of God, but that he was able see when challenged by the Canaanite woman, in the same way as in his meeting with the Roman centurion (Matthew 8:10; Luke 7:9), how the gift of faith had already been given to others so that the blessings of the kingdom he came to establish were even now to be shared more widely. It would make some sense, then, to see it as a genuine encounter in which Jesus was persuaded by the woman to do something he was not inclined at first to do. Even his being God does not make it impossible for him to change his mind. There are plenty of examples in the Bible of God changing his mind. (For example, 1 Samuel 2:13; 2 Chronicles 7; Psalm 78:37-39.)

So one of the great things we learn from the Canaanite woman is her persistence in faith in a genuine interpersonal encounter (Matthew 15:28). It was her own personal acceptance of his being the Messiah which made the difference. Faith in the universal saviour of humankind unites people in Christ (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11).

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Order of Service Ordinary 20 (Pentecost 12) Year A

The Gathering of the People of God


HYMN 93 God is love, let heaven adore him

PRAYER OF ADORATION (Adapted from the Methodist Covenant Service, 1936)
Let us pray. Let us adore God.
We worship and adore you, God of love who created us; who every moment preserves and sustains us; who has loved us with an everlasting love, and given us the light of the knowledge of your glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
We praise you, O God, we acknowledge you to be the Lord.
We glory in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; who though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor; who went about doing good and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom; who was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin; who became obedient unto death, even the death on the cross; who was dead and is alive for evermore; who opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers; who now lives and reigns in the glory of the Father.
You are the King of Glory, O Christ.
We rejoice in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, by whom we are born into the family of God, and made members of the Body of Christ; whose witness confirms us; whose wisdom teaches us; whose power enables us; who waits to do for us exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or imagine.
All praise to you, O Holy Spirit.

Almighty and loving God, we have failed to love you with all our heart and to acknowledge you as our Creator: Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
We have failed to take part as disciples of Christ in the new creation he has brought: Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
We have failed to open our lives to the renewing power of the Holy Spirit: Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The good news is that all who trust in Christ will have their sins forgiven and receive eternal life. As you hold this faith, I declare that you are set free from all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
Thanks be to God.

DOXOLOGY (Hymn 576)
Now to him who loved us, gave us
every pledge that love could give,
freely shed his blood to save us,
gave his life that we might live,
be the kingdom, and dominion,
and the glory evermore.


Service of the Word

INTRODUCTION OF THEME: Discovering the universal range of Christ's mission
OLD TESTAMENT Genesis 45:1-15 Joseph reveals himself to his brothers
PSALM 133 When kindred dwell together in unity
EPISTLE Romans 11:1,2a,29-32 God has not rejected his people
GOSPEL Matthew 15:(10-20)21-28 The Canaanite woman and Jesus' mission to Israel

HYMN 531 When we walk with the Lord


HYMN 191 Christ is the world's light

SHARING TIME [Notices, celebrations, requests for intercessions]
The Salvation of the whole world
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light,
Look favourably on your whole church,
that wonderful and sacred mystery;
and by the peaceful operation of your providence,
carry out the work of our salvation.
And let the whole world feel and see
that things which were cast down are being raised up,
and things which had grown old are being made new,
and all things are returning to perfection
through him from whom they took their origin;
even through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Gelasian Sacramentary, 7th century.

THE LORD'S PRAYER [Front of the Hymn Book]

The Sending Forth of the People of God

HYMN 136 Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
DISMISSAL Go in peace to love and serve the Lord:
In the name of Christ. Amen.

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