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Favouritism and Snobbery

faithWelcome to church today! Whether you are a visitor or a regular, we hope you experience the joy that comes from being part of a loving church which values genuine fellowship and sharing of ourselves in ways that build each other up.

Our readings this week highlight the themes of favouritism and snobbery as obstacles to God’s grace. In the encounter with the Syro-Phoenician mother with the ill daughter, Jesus is challenged and impressed by the woman’s deep faith and grants healing for her child.

Again in the healing miracle of the deaf man Jesus shows by example that God has no favourites and that all are welcome in the kingdom of heaven.

James attacks the Jerusalem church for the special treatment afforded to some of its members who are blessed with wealth and power. Citing the Second Great Commandment James calls on all members to love one another as God loves us. There are no favourites in God’s eyes. We are all sinners undeserving of God’s grace – yet we are all equally loved.

Going further, James is outspoken in claiming that faith that doesn’t reveal itself through acts of loving kindness is dead. These are strong words, which must surely cause us to pause and reconsider our own efforts to live as true disciples of Christ.

How does my faith make a difference in the world? Can my faith be seen by others?

Mark 7:24-37 The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith & Jesus Cures a Deaf Man

24 From there (Jesus) set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ 28But she answered him, ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ 29Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.’ 30So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

31Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ 35And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’

James 2:1-17 Warning against Partiality & Faith without Works Is Dead

2My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? 2For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, 3and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Have a seat here, please’, while to the one who is poor you say, ‘Stand there’, or, ‘Sit at my feet’, 4have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? 6But you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? 7Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?

8 You do well if you really fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ 9But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11For the one who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’, also said, ‘You shall not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13For judgement will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgement.

14What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

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