SERMON: WORDS FROM THE HEART.
The Gospel readings these past Sundays and today have been from Matthew, about miracles and healings performed – and so today we hear about the Canaanite woman and her tormented ill daughter. We listen to a mother’s distress and plea and heartfelt prayers. And we rejoice with her when her prayers are heard and her daughter is healed. Her faith, her love, her good heart came out in her prayers, showed in her tears and fears, and finally saved her and her daughter.
A mother’s, a parent’s, unconditional love overflowed from her heart and her mouth.
Whatever the heart is full of
overflows from the mouth.
Today I will focus on the first part of the Gospel. On the wonderful wise but very down to earth and relatable words about what goes in and what comes out!
“Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”
In general, specific food restrictions do not bind Christians such as the Hindus and Buddhist may be restricted to or recommended to be vegetarians, or as the Jewish and Muslim laws restrict the diet and consumption of so-called unclean food.
The New Testament says we should be known for our love (John 13:35), not our meals. We do not have specific Christian rules about clean and unclean food. We can eat pork: in fact, as a Danish Lutheran we could not survive without pork and bacon. We can eat chicken, ducks, pheasants, eel, herring, and cod; we can eat beef, veal, salmon, and even raw eggs. Our faith and religion does not give us specific instructions on what to eat: our faith gives us instructions on how to be.
Our time is more religious in our Health regiments of dos and don’ts.
In our time and age, it is not the church or the pastor, but the coach, the personal trainer and the newest diet that preaches about how to become an eating healthy Saint instead of an indulging unhealthy Sinner.
These days many of us really do worry about what we eat, what we put into our mouth and stomach. We are afraid of carbs and calories, we are counting, we are weighing, we are reading labels, we are focusing on sustainability and organic production.
These days and years we are really worrying about, what goes into our mouth and out when we visit the restroom.
We are sinfully enjoying or maybe just dreaming about cream cheese, butter on the bread, chocolate chip cookies, ice-cream, and sweet candy. We know we are not supposed to indulge in these sinful habits and eat these divine yet sinful temptations, - as we know they will leave their imprint not only in our digestions, but also our appearances. And leave a big imprint on our conscience.
But we do… eat. And we do enjoy eating…. We do indulge in mouthwatering meals, lavish lunches, beautiful breakfasts, and Danish Dinners. Just watch on line. All the posting of food on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. There are more pictures of the food we eat that the ones we eat with! And of course, it is better showing pictures of healthy choices, salads, fruit, smoothies…. Than sharing your sinful bad habits and longings for carbs, calories, and cholesterol.
It is almost as if we need to prove something – or let the whole wide world that I am not a carb or calorie sinner, but I am a Healthy Saint. It is almost confession on line…. And forgiveness on Facebook!
Well – Jesus did tell his disciples and the crowd following him that whatever enters the mouth, enters the stomach, and goes on into the sewer. (This is down to earth, basic, latrine talk) We know how that work.
But…. Then Jesus tells them and us… most importantly “But what comes out of the mouth, what we say…. Proceeds from within, from our hearts………”
Our Reformer Martin Luther who has been and will be present in more Sermons this year due the 500 Anniversary of the Reformation… Martin Luther was a scholar and a devout Christian, but he was also a father, a husband, a beer lover, and a food lover. Luther wrote and lectured extensively to his student at the university, and some of his student realized that some of the most valuable instruction, that Luther gave was not in the classroom, but was in the dining hall over a meal and a few good German beers. His student began taking notes on what Luther told them in that relaxed atmosphere, and they eventually published these notes in what is known as Martin Luther’s Table Talks.
One such example of good Lutheran Table talk happened one day after class in the dining hall and they were all sitting around eating their Sauerkraut and Bratwursts and talking about life and living, good and evil.
Martin Luther said: “I more fear what is within me than what comes from without.” And rightly so.
As Jesus said: “For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander….” All of that comes from within, from our heart and soul, and out of our mouths or through our actions.
“I am more afraid of my own heart that of the pope and all his cardinals. I have within me the great Pope, myself!? “Luther also said.
And added: “You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.”
Whatever the heart is full of
overflows from the mouth.
The loving distressed praying mother let her heart overflow into her plea and prayers.
The loving parents of little Adam today, let their hearts overflow into their prayers and their promises today.
The Godparents, proud grandparents, the entire congregation let our hearts overflow today in remembrance of own baptism and the promise that we live by.
It is indeed important what we eat and how we eat. It is indeed important to be good stewards of our bodies and our health. It is indeed better to eat healthy than unhealthy. But it is even more important what we have in our hearts and what overflows from our hearts into our mouth and our words and acts.
In the Gospel, according to John 13.35 it says: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Not by what we eat or do not eat. Not by how we dress or do not dress. But by who we share our table and meal with, and by how love decorate and dress our fellowship and lives.
So next time you sit at a fancy restaurant or at a fantastic family dinner, please do not share a photo of the meal – but share a photo of the people around the table. Yet even better: just sit, drink, eat and enjoy without having to share or collect likes. Be present and enjoy what goes into your mouth and how it can warm your heart and fill your mouth with words of gratitude, faith, and love. Bon Appetit!