Mark 7:5-8 NIV
So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”
He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ” ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
One of the reoccurring challenges that Jesus faced during His earthly ministry was dealing with misguided religious leaders. You see, despite the healings He performed, the compassion He displayed, and the brilliance of His teachings, Jesus was constantly hounded by self-righteous “teachers of the law” who made it their job to publicly denounce Jesus’ words and actions.
But what’s remarkable is that these criticisms never dissuaded Jesus from His work. Instead, as our lectionary passage for this week shows us, Jesus would defend His ministry and critique the misguided faith of his mistaken opponents.
You know, when reading stories like Mark 7, it’s easy for us to find fault in the self-righteous arrogance of Jesus’ opponents and to criticize their obsession with trivial rules and judge them for how they focused on the wrong parts of their faith.
But I don’t think passages like this should lead us to cast stones at a group of misguided religious leaders who lived 2,000 years ago. Instead, stories like this in the gospels should make us consider whether we have a faith that is pleasing to God.
Saints, I’d love to tell you that we, as Christians, always get it right. But from my experience, it’s clear that we can often be as blind and misguided as some of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. You see, just like them, our faith can be corrupted by judgementalism, mindless rituals, and routines, and fixating on things that don’t matter to God.
In other words, the Pharisees and the scribes aren’t in scripture to be an easy punching bag for us. Instead, their presence invites us to consider: are we more like them or Jesus? And is our faith genuinely connecting us to God and our neighbors? Or has it become empty and misguided?
I think those questions are worth chewing on for all of us as we prepare for worship this week.
Food Drive for Flemington Food Pantry
From August 29th to September 26th, our church is holding a Food Drive to collect food for the Flemington Area Food Pantry. There is a list in the back of the church which states what items the Food Pantry is looking for. The drop-off box is also in the back of the sanctuary.
On Sunday, September 12th, we have our annual church picnic on our side lawn after service. Since this event is outdoors, masks will not be required. As part of COVID-19 precautions, we will NOT have potluck food items. All food and drink will be purchased and served by teams wearing masks and gloves. There will be crafts/activities for children attending. More details to follow as we get closer to the event!
Resuming Music Ministries
The Choir and Bell Choir will resume rehearsals on September 9th. Rehearsals will be on Thursdays in the choir room, with Bell Choir at 4:30-5:30 and Choir at 5:45-7:00. Feeling unsure about joining? Feel free to sit in on a rehearsal any time before deciding. All are welcome – no experience required!
Sunday School Starting Back Up
Our church is restarting our in-person Sunday School program on September 12th. If you would like to register your child in our Sunday School program, please fill out a registration form and turn it in before that date. If you need a form, you can email Gretchen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sharing Prayer Requests
If you have a prayer request, you can fill out a prayer card in the back of the sanctuary or email our Office Manager, Gretchen, at email@example.com. We will be sure to add it to the list on the back of our bulletin. You can also email Gretchen to take off any prayer requests that are no longer relevant or needed.
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