And the Pharisees and the scribes asked [Jesus], “Why do your disciples not live
according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with their hands defiled?”
And [Jesus] said to [the Pharisees and scribes who were conspiring to destroy him
with their hardness of heart] (Mark 3:5-6)… “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites,
as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine the precepts of men.’” [Isaiah. 29:13] … And again Jesus called the people to him, and said to them, ‘Hear me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him.’” (Mark 7:6-8, 14-15; RSV. Emphasis added)
Let us pray:
O God, we’re scrubbing our hands like crazy, and we still can’t get all the dirt off! And look, look at this mess … we’ve scrubbed so hard our hands are starting to bleed! … What a hopeless effort … And where is all this blood coming from? … Yes, we must admit, if we look deep- down and are honest with ourselves and you: we need some open heart surgery. No, not just a by-pass. We’ve tried that one and found ourselves to all be dishonest like the scribes and Pharisees, and even the disciples, like Judas. And no, not just an angioplasty. We’ve tried that one too, and found the balloons of even our best, puffed-up efforts to quickly go flat. And no, it’s not just a matter of exercise and diet. Been there, done that too – the cholesterol of sin is just too thick for any earthly medicine – whether it’s eating more Cheerios or even popping a Crestor tab each day.
And so it is, O God … and so it is … that we come to you again this day with our old hardened hearts, in prayer and thanksgiving at your communion table, leaning into your promise of an ever present love of enfolding forgiveness and hope – signed and sealed by Christ’s cross. Yes, in the spirit of your Psalmist: ‘Create in us a clean heart, O God and renew in us a right spirit’ (Psalm 51:10) – making us to be your cardiac kids … whose hearts beat for the sake of your kingdom come, in the needs of our neighbor, and throughout your creation.” AMEN
May God bless your labor and your Sabbath rest, this Labor Day Weekend.
I’ll see you at the table.