Sermon Introduction –
Jesus ignores traditions to get to the heart of the matter – the place of deep-seated evil and good is the human heart. No amount of hand washing or bathing can make pure those inner realities. What traditions are we maintaining that are keeping people from a vital and life-changing connection to God? Can we get to the heart of the matter?
Introduction to our readings –
Jesus protests against human customs being given the weight of divine law, while the essence of God’s law is ignored. True uncleanness comes not from external things, but from the intentions of the human heart. Last week Jesus told us “the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” Now James says God has given us birth by the words of truth. We, having been washed in the word when we were born in the font, return to it every Sunday to ask God to create in us clean hearts.
Reading: James 1:17-27
The letter of James was intended to provide first-century Christians with instruction in godly behavior. Here, Christians are encouraged to listen carefully and to act on what they hear, especially by caring for those least able to care for themselves.
Reading: Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Mark’s gospel depicts Jesus as challenging traditional ways in which religious people determine what is pure or impure. For Jesus, the observance of religious practices cannot become a substitute for godly words or deeds that spring from a faithful heart.