Fast Wednesdays: Week of October 5, 2016 — A Mother and (Heavenly Father)’s Love and Faithfulness!

Greetings Beloved!

Can you believe that we are in the FOURTH quarter of 2016 which means the year is more than 3/4 finished? Time is quickly flying by for me/us. I have been much busier than I ever thought or imagined with the retirement effective as of 05/31/16! I do believe though by the beginning of the year, 2017, I will be less busy and look forward to catching up with so many of you who have poured so much love into my life. Some of you have called, text or email and I have either not responded back or not wholeheartedly! Sometime, in the near future I will share some of all I have been doing and to top it off, Alvin was hospitalized in early September. He’s much better, he’s lost over 20 pounds and he’s now living the healthier life he always advises people on as a Certified Personal Trainer. I too will be taking steps to get in better health because if you love to travel like I do, you do not need to be going somewhere and those knees give out!

What I will share with you all right now is that I am back in school working on a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies at Hartford Seminary, in Hartford, CT. Most of the work will be done online but this semester I have to travel to the school for three weekend meetings, Friday a.m. to Sunday p.m., for a mandatory class called Dialogue in a World of Difference. This course, along with two more, are keeping me hopping. I enjoy the Hartford Seminary environment because its an opportunity to interact directly with Christians, Jews and Muslims. I am blown away often by some of my classmates and their knowledge of my religion and by my LACK of knowledge on theirs.

One course is called “Spiritual Foundations for Social Change” and the other one is “She Did That.”

Here’s the course outline for She Did That: The depiction of women in New Testament texts…well, for many, it just ain’t right! And with its ongoing influence on the lives of women today it’s time we set the record straight. One may perceive that there are but two types of women presented  good or evil, pure or impure, faithful wife or whore, and so on. There doesn’t seem to be any ambiguity…but is there? Beauty – feminine beauty  is in the eye of the interpreter. Is a woman with initiative a bad thing? Is a woman who “stays in her place” a good thing? Let’s talk about it! We will do a critical examination of select biblical texts that capture the dynamic function of women and gender. We will consider the ancient socio-cultural context, and also engage contemporary malestream, feminist, and womanist interpretation. But don’t think you’re off the hook! You will be amazed at how much of yourself you will uncover in this class. Reading for women in texts written by men is sure to challenge some of our learned traditions and cultural assumptions about women. So who’s in?!

Today, for our Fast Wednesday topic, I wanted to share with you some enriching information I have gained from rereading Matthew 15:21-28 “The Story of the Canaanite Woman” through the lenses of gender, political, socioeconomic and other boundaries. Overall:

  1. Never give up or stop praying for yourself, those you love, your enemies, your community, etc. for it is a form of worship. You can pray standing up but every now and then life will knock you to your knees.
  2. Without faith it is impossible to please God – Jesus healed the mother’s daughter based on mom’s faith which forced her to intercede on behalf of her child.
  3. Jesus came for ALL

There are few things more fierce and ferocious than a mother’s love. The Canaanite woman, known as the Syrophoenician in Mark’s Gospel, gives a prime example of a mother’s love on display even to the depths of being ignored and insulted. Sidebar: Why is it that often people come for healing but we are so “unfocused” we cannot see or help them or lack compassion on their plight, is what I was thinking when I read about the disciples urging Jesus to send her away?

Our professor instructed us to speak out or reenact this story as if we were a participant and we were going to bible study and being asked to discuss what happened. I choose the young girl. (As you fast and pray along with me today and over this week, I challenge you to read the story and think about putting yourself into someone else’s shoes and feel what are the implications for them and how does this story impact them and you through their lens).

Demon Possessed Girl: My mom is the Canaanite woman and she brought me here with her tonight to bible study for the first time in years. She use to bring me, I’m told, up until the time I was four but I behaved so badly due to those demons possessing me, that she gave up on bringing me. In spite of my condition, she stuck by me and never gave up on me out of unconditional love which is similar to Jesus’ shown to her last week and thanks also for your prayers. I am told that it was because of her tremendous and undying faith that I am healed. I would often hear her worshiping through praise and prayer throughout the house and it made me a believer.

Right now, however, I am confused between fear that an “attack” may reoccur to ambivalent about whether or not I deserved to be healed? All those matters are much too weighty for me, a girl of nine. In the meantime, as you would guess, I have never had friends my own age. The only girl who would play with me sometimes was the cook’s daughter, Mary. No one else but Mary, except maybe my grandmothers, could tolerate my behavior when the demons would randomly attack. I am just so happy that Mary stood by me too. Her family is Christian and they were the ones who told my mother about Jesus. The End.

I pray you will be blessed and encouraged by this sharing…feel free, as usual, to share anything God puts on your heart.

SCRIPTURE: Mark 7:24-29 New International Version (NIV) – 24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

Matthew 15:21-28 NIV – 21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” 25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

SONG:

Babbi Mason, Great is Thy Faithfulness, Christmas 1999 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KblxC0u0aQg

Note: Wish I had a recording of Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, Grace Baptist Church, Mt. Vernon, NY singing this song … many souls were fed.
 
PRAYER:
Father, we come to you today, just to say hello, thank you Lord and we love you. Sometimes, we want and need to just keep it simple, in a world that is beyond complex. Spending time with you creates this time and space for you. We ask that you would help us to be more faithful in our prayer time with you for it brings us great JOY. Joy which the world does not give and the world cannot take away. “Many of the problems that clamor for our attention will resolve themselves. Other matters that we have to deal with, you will help us. If we make problem-solving secondary to the goal of living close to YOU, we will find JOY even in our most difficult days.” Amen…

Love, Joy and Peace,  

Debra J. Fuller Ellis

Reminder AND/OR for those of you just joining us:

The purpose of Fast Wednesdays is to draw near to God on this specific day of the week fasting and praying in whatever manner the Holy Spirit is leading you as sisters (and some brothers) in Christ…some have fasted from social media, coffee, or observed a traditional fast with no eating from sunrise to sunset with only liquids for the day, no deserts, etc. I know many of us, for various reasons, participate every week but in different manners. This has still been beneficial and the blog continues to grow!

The key ingredient is that we are doing this together as sisters, of all ages, in the Lord, both chronologically and spiritually in accordance to: A God-Filled Life Titus 2:3-5 “Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior.”  Note: Please share Fast Wednesdays with your friends and/or send me names to add to the distribution list. For now, I will post in three places: email (djf52055@gmail.com), Facebook (Debra Fuller Ellis) and blog in Word Press: https://fastwednesdays.wordpress.com

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