Wednesday, September 14, 2011

a retelling of the story of the woman called a dog

(an assignment for my preaching class)

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not answer her at all.

Why do you ignore me?
Why do you not heed my cry?
I know you have an answer.
I know you hear me; I can see you flinch when I speak.
Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David!
Do you know how long I have watched her suffer?
How many animals we have slaughtered to our own gods, begging them for mercy?
Do you see how this demon has beggared us?
I know you know.
I have heard of you.
Oh, I know who you are, Lord, Son of David.
You have cast out demons,
not by the power of demons but by the spirit of your god.
I have heard of you.
Why then will you not hear me?

And his disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us."
He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

Do you think I do not know who you are sent to?
Do you think I do not know who you are, Son of David?
You are a son of Israel.
You are a child of the people who slaughtered my people and took the land of Canaan for themselves.
Your people hate my people.
Your god hates my gods.
But were not your people blessed to be a blessing,
to be set apart as a city on a hill and a light to the nations?
Yes, I know your stories, Lord, Son of David.
I know who you are.
Do you know me?

But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me."
He answered, "It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs."

What then shall I say to these things?
Are you blind, you who gives sight?
Are you deaf, you who opens ears?
Are you as worthless and lifeless as the idols of my household, unable to think, to move, to save?
No, I am not a daughter of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob -- no, she is not a child of the Covenant --
but neither are we dogs.
Look back further in your family,
back beyond Moses and Joshua,
beyond Abram and Sarai gazing at the stars.
Go back to the root of the family tree from which no one can be divided.
Yes, I know your stories, Lord, Son of David.
There is one ancestor from which we were all descended.
A mother knows her family.
A mother knows her daughter.
She is not a child of dogs.
She is a child of God.
Are you testing me, Lord, Son of David?
Do you question the strength of my convictions that you might be able to do what I ask?
If you were who you claimed to be, you would not do so.
If you are who you claim to be, you can see my heart.
I come to you out of the strangeness of a mother's love,
worthless in the measure of riches,
beyond measure in power and strength.
I did not come to be tested -- I did not come to be cast aside --
I will not let you go until you bless me.

She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table."
Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish."
And her daughter was healed instantly.

(Matthew 15:21-28)

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