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Woof Woof

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I don’t know if I ever to you all this but it wasn’t my ambition in life to become a pastor of a church.  When I was a child and through most of my high school career I wanted to be a veterinarian. I love animals.  I also had parents who were kind enough to say yes to the types of animals I decided I wanted a pet at certain points in my life.  Our family had fish, dogs, cats, mice, rats, snakes, lizards, frogs, birds, turtles, scorpions, spiders, an ant colony, and I’m not sure but I may be forgetting some other animals along the way.  
“Woof Woof”
August 17, 2014
by Pastor Brian Weinberger
I don’t know if I ever to you all this but it wasn’t my ambition in life to become a pastor of a church.  When I was a child and through most of my high school career I wanted to be a veterinarian. I love animals.  I also had parents who were kind enough to say yes to the types of animals I decided I wanted a pet at certain points in my life.  Our family had fish, dogs, cats, mice, rats, snakes, lizards, frogs, birds, turtles, scorpions, spiders, an ant colony, and I’m not sure but I may be forgetting some other animals along the way.  
The cats that we had when we moved to Escondido were strays that we took in, we found an iguana in the street and no one claimed it so we took care of that as well, our cats liked to hunt birds and happened to bring a nest with a baby in it to our porch and I ended up raising it to adulthood, and one of the mother cats we had left after she had her babies so we had to learn how to feed and clean and take care of week old kittens.  
For me the decision to take care of animals for my career was a no brainer really.  That love of animals extended to my whole family because I remember getting a phone call from my brother Kevin after I had gone to college and he said he found a dog in the road with no tags and no leash or any sign that it had been taken care of and wanted to know if he should take it home.  He told me that all it took was a friendly ‘woof woof’ from the dog and he knew it was a nice dog and that he should at least take it home if not only to figure out who’s dog it was. Well Sobe soon became the brother to our other dog Heidi and he still lives with my dad in Escondido.
Now as many of you know Bekkah and I have two cats and before Aubreigh was born they were like kids to us.  They still are very much a part of our family and we truly love them and it has been amazing to find someone who loves animals as much as I do.  
I say all this to give you an insight into my care for and interest in animals because there is a lot I would do for animals to make sure they are healthy and happy.  I’m sure those of you who have pets would do the same. We take our pets to the vet when they are sick and buy them good food and look after their welfare to the best of our abilities.  
So with all that in mind I think we should take a look at today’s text.  To really be able to get into the text we need to understand our Bible history. We see in verse 26 that Jesus meets a Syrophoencian woman.  This may not seem like it but this distinction is key to the text. So when I say we need to understand our context I’m not talking about a few chapters earlier but this stories context goes all the way back to the book of Genesis.  To help us get there if we take a look at Matthew’s version of this story we see that the woman is a Caananite woman.
At the end of the flood we see that Canaan’s father Ham saw Noah naked and didn’t do anything about it except tell his brothers.  WIthout getting into all those details we see that Noah cursed Ham’s son Canaan and that Canaan will be the slaves of Shem and Japheth and their descendants.  We also see that after the Israelites are freed from slavery in Egypt God promises the land of the Canaanites to the Israelites and that the Canaanites should be wiped out.  
So what does this all mean?  In the eyes of the Israelites the Canaanites are not worthy of the land they own and they are supposed to be subject to and slaves of the Israelites as ordained by God and the Canaanites don’t even believe in the God of the Israelites so on top of all that they are pagans.  
In the eyes of the Canaanites the Israelites are nothing more than land stealers and murderers who would stop at nothing to eliminate an entire race for the mistake of one many many years ago.  Let’s just say that there was a LOT of animosity between the Israelites and Canaanites.
So here we are in the region of Tyre and Sidon and Jesus is walking with his disciples when a Canaanite woman starts yelling at him from somewhere to heal her daughter who has a demon tormenting her.  Jesus doesn’t even acknowledge her until the disciples tell him to send her away at which point he tells them and not her that he came for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. They then begin to exchange an interesting conversation about dogs and scraps from a table.  
Jesus basically calls her a dog but instead of arguing and fighting against that insult she agrees with him that in his eyes she is probably no better than a dog, but that at least a dog gets the scraps from the table.
I know some people that treat their pets even better than Bekkah and I treat our cats.  I know that we treat our cats great but there are some people that take them to get their nails done and their coats cleaned and trimmed on a regular basis and they get only the finest food that doesn’t come from a can.  How is it that people can care for their pets even better than they care for other people they may meet in their life? How is it that we would pick up stray pets without a second thought but when we see someone in need we tend to wonder about their motives.  
Do the people that we see as the worst in society also need a little bit of love and grace?  How about the people here in the congregation that think differently than us? Are we willing to listen to their thoughts and views on life and faith even though they seem like just a distraction or interruption to us?  
Jesus thought so.  Jesus took this interruption and distraction from a woman considered a Gentile and the worst and granted her request.  She asked for a few scraps of grace from Jesus table and he granted it. Not only does he grant her request but he tells everyone who is listening that she has great faith.   How is it that someone in Jesus society who is considered the worst is told she has great faith? She didn’t even believe in their God. She showed everyone there that even she needed grace in her life even though she was different.  
Who are those among us that could use some scraps of grace?  Think about all the grace that we have received throughout our lives?  All those amazing meals of grace given to us despite all the things that we have done or haven’t done in our lives.  How might we share a bit of that meal with others?
A little meal that we give here at Grace is through your community lunches. We just had one this last Thursday and it was great to be there again after 6 weeks off and see both old faces of people that I see each time that we have this meal and it was also really nice to see some new people coming and enjoying the meal that our members make for them. This is a literal meal that we have that can be a way to show people that they are loved and cared for by their neighbor. It may not seem like a big deal or a big meal from us, but for them I know it is truly appreciated.
Even scraps of grace can change lives in those who are in need of it.  I’m not saying that we only share scraps with other people, but what I mean by scraps is that even just a little bit of love and grace (scraps) can do a lot in our world. Let’s go out into this world and share the abundant grace that has been given to us so freely with those who are in the greatest need of it.  Let grace abound so that all may feel the love and care that God has for each and every one of God’s creations.
Amen.
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