Posted by: Pauline | September 3, 2018

Scriptures for Sunday September 9

James 1:17-27

In popular culture, and even sometimes among churchgoing people, being religious is generally associated with various religious rituals.  People who go to church regularly, pray a lot, and read the Bible and devotional literature are considered “religious” – a designation that many people shy away from. Those activities are good, but James paints a different picture of true religion, which has at least as much to do with everyday behavior as what one does on Sundays or other specifically religious contexts.

Taking care of the needy, such as widows and orphans, requires being among them, first to see them and their needs, and then to meet those needs. In the process there will be temptations to act and react in ways that serve self rather than God, and that require careful attention to what we have been taught by God, to do what He desires instead of what may come more naturally to us.

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

The Pharisees had a great many rules they followed, believing this made them more acceptable to God. It must have been challenging, keeping all those rules. Then again, aren’t there days when it seems like it might be easier to keep oneself “pure” by ritual washings and only eating certain foods prepared a certain way, than to be kind to rude people and patient with slow people and forgiving to mean people and not wish for what we don’t have, such as an easier life?

Jesus made it clear that eating the wrong things does not defile us, because it is what comes out of our heart that defiles us. But that also means that eating the right things, or following any number of other rules, can’t make our hearts pure, because it is still what comes out of our heart that defiles us. This passage doesn’t give us the answer to our “heart trouble,” but we know from other passages that Jesus himself is the answer.

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