When Jesus is challenged because his disciples are neglecting purity laws, he points out that what really matters is what comes from the heart. Jesus turns people’s expectations on their heads showing them what the Kingdom of God really looks like. Why church? Because the work of the church is the redemption of our hearts.
INTRODUCTION & REFLECTION
Call to Worship
L: Come; be washed by the Word made flesh.
C: The Word who cleans our hearts.
L: Come; hear the Word which will not be made void by hypocrisy.
C: The Word who enters our hearts.
L: Come; take in the Word of life.
C: The Word who redeems our hearts.
Prayer of the Day
Jesus, you teach us that hollow habits of body and mind are not the way to be protected from evil. Instead you remind us that evil looks for its home in the human heart – and that it is your life in us that washes our hearts and makes us whole again. Come into our hearts Lord Jesus, come in to stay. Amen.
• Lord, Let My Heart Be Good Soil- ELW #512
• There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy- ELW #587/588
• Love Divine, all Loves Excelling- ELW #631
• Give Us Clean Hands- Charlie Hall
• Remedy- David Crowder
• Mighty to Save- Fielding and Morgan
Narrator: Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles. So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him,
Pharisees/ Scribes: “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
Narrator: He said to them,
Jesus: “Isaiah prophesied rightly about 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 human precepts as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Narrator: Then he said to them,
Jesus: “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God)— then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”
Narrator: Then he called the crowd again and said to them,
Jesus: “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
Narrator: When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them,
Jesus: “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
The Kingdom of God is bigger than any specific denomination, more significant than any doctrinal belief, and infuses all creation. What really matters is what comes from the heart – the heart of God redeeming the world in Christ. The Church is at its best when its members share their hearts with others; fellow believers, neighbors, and even our enemies.
(Props: 2 spray bottles, 1 empty, 1 with water).
Ask: What do I have? What is in it? That’s right, it is empty with only air inside. (Spray the air at a few to feel the air). You feel the air because that is what is inside. I have another spray bottle, what does this one have inside? If I squeeze it at someone, what will come out? Yes, water! Does anyone want me to prove it?
In today’s Bible story, the leaders called Pharisees were concerned that Jesus and his disciples were eating unwashed foods with unwashed hands. They thought that when something unclean goes into our bodies, that unclean things will come out – things like lying or cheating or stealing or being mean to others.
Jesus said that it’s not what goes into our bodies that matters but what is in our hearts. It’s true that filling our bodies with healthy foods keeps us healthy. And washing our hands and food keeps us from getting sick.
But filling our hearts and minds with God’s love helps us to be people who send out love to others.
Just like our spray bottles, what is inside is what comes out, right?
When we fill up with God’s love, we send out love and kindness to others.
Just like Jesus – and that makes the world a better place! Why church? Because the work of the church is the redemption of our hearts. Let’s pray.
What Really Matters Comes from the Heart
Summary: In today’s text (Mark 7:1-23), Jesus is challenged on his teachings and emphasizes that what really matters comes from the heart. President’s Day Weekend is often a good time to have an intergenerational service project event.
Overview: Have a leader for each project and enough tables for people to do each project. Signage for the tables is helpful. Gather all the supplies ahead of time. You may want to have the congregation collect items for several weeks in advance. At each table have information about the organization that you are serving and one or more discussion questions. Here is an example that we have used:
The fleece tie blankets will go to Southside Family Nurturing Center on Cedar Ave in south Minneapolis. This is a block from the homeless camp in Minneapolis. Southside works with families in the Phillips Neighborhood. They have early childhood, preschool, parenting, language and other programs. The population in the area is very diverse including: Black, Hispanic, Native American, White and Multiracial. 57% of the children under age 5 are living below the poverty level. You could have someone look up Southside Family Nurturing Center and share more about it with the group at https://www.ssfnc.org/. There is a 4 minute video under “About Us” and “Mission” that could be shared with the group.
• Why are we doing this project?
• Think about stories in the Bible – who was Jesus paying attention to?
• How do we pay attention to these same people?
Welcome: As people arrive, greet them and encourage them to put on name tags and introduce themselves to at least one person they do not know. Invite people to choose a project they would like to work on.
Opening Activity: This is also Valentine’s Day weekend and we hear a lot about love. As people are arriving, invite them to color or create something that says “Jesus is the best Valentine” or “Jesus love is for everyone.” This could also be used as one of the stations, especially if you have young children who need a variety of activities.
Service Project Ideas:
• Sandwich Making – Make sandwiches or bag lunches for a local organization. Be sure to check with them about what they need, any special instructions and quantities. Have all the items purchased ahead of time and set it up as an assembly line for people to participate in. Could have people decorate brown lunch bags. If permissible with the organization, could put a note with each. Have someone designated to deliver the items to the organization.
• Hand Warmer Kits – Make kits for a local homeless shelter or other organization. Be sure to check with them about what they need, any special instructions and quantities. Collect items for several weeks in advance or purchase items ahead of time. These may include: stretchy gloves, socks (children’s and adult sizes), hand warmers, granola bars or other healthy snacks). Could put items into the gloves and socks. Have someone designated to deliver the items to the organization.
• Fleece Tie Blankets – Make blankets for a local organization. Be sure to check with them about what they need, any special instructions and quantities. Collect or purchase fleece ahead of time. You may want to have volunteers cut the edges ahead of time so they are ready to tie or do that as part of the event. Have someone designated to deliver the items to the organization.
• Birthday Cards for Camp Noah – Lutheran Social Services Camp Noah helps children who have been impacted by disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes. In such times, things like birthdays are often overlooked. They keep a supply of birthday cards made by volunteers to give to kids. You can find all the information about the project and a template for the cards here: https://www.lssmn.org/get-involved/volunteer/gods-work-our-hands/birthday-cards
• Cards for Homebound Members – Create cards for members of the congregation that are not able to come to church because of health or mobility issues. These cards could be as simple or as elaborate as you would like. If someone in your congregation has a passion for card making, they may be a good leader for this project. Cards could be mailed or hand delivered.
• Food Shelf – if you have collected numerous items for your local food shelf, these could be sorted, boxed or bagged and loaded into a vehicle to be delivered.
• Sign up to serve – Serving is not a one-time event but an ongoing way that we love our neighbors. If you congregation has ongoing service opportunities or upcoming events, have people sign up to participate.
Prayer of Blessing
Have the group gather and have one item from each project team. This could also be done in worship.
Leader: Gracious and loving God,
Group: We are your people, your hands and feet in the world.
Leader: We ask your blessing today on all those gathered here today and the hands that did this work.
Group: And we ask your blessing on all those who will receive these items.
Leader: We bless the [list all the items]
Group: May no one be hungry
Leader: May no one be cold
Group: May no one be homeless
Leader: May no one be lonely
Group: Help us to have generous hearts.
Leader: Help us to show your love to all our neighbors.
Group: Help us to understand that what really matters comes from the heart.
Leader: In Jesus name we pray.