We were blessed to have Efrem Smith return to the pulpit and preach on the text Matt. 15:22-28. The title of this sermon is: “What about me?” Do you ever get the sense that some people seem to catch all the breaks, but you just don’t? Examples Efrem gave were: some people are able to own homes and others don’t have this opportunity, some seem to have great marriages while others are constantly struggling. The analogy of a slot machine was used where somebody is standing before the machine that is ringing but not me. Sometimes it feels like others are being blessed, getting lucky, catching breaks, but not me. If you are tired of pretending everything is okay and you find yourself asking, “What about me?” this sermon is for you.
In today’s scripture reading the Canaanite woman came into a room full of men and shouted: what about me? This was a risky thing for her to do. Here’s why: as a woman, she would not be accepted in this context. Women at this time were considered property of their husbands and not full members of society. So this is a serious strike against her getting a positive response to her request. Furthermore, she is a Canaanite. Efrem took some time to explain that this means she is from a group of people that is considered cursed and are used as slaves. An important thing to note here is that it is not God (nor the enemy) who cursed this group, the Canaanites, but Noah. The story occurs in Gen. 9 where two of Noah’s sons covered up a scandal for Noah but Ham did not. So Noah cursed Ham’s son Canaan and made his descendants slaves to the other sons. Efrem emphasized that we need to recognize the power we have to bless and curse one another. We have the power to make freedom and slavery possible for others over whom we have influence. We are responsible to God for this influence. With this in mind, we need to remember that God hears the cry of those who are poor and downtrodden. In Gen. 4 we already see the God’s heart for liberation (freedom from oppression) at work. God hears the cry of Abel’s blood! Even though Cain has silenced Abel’s lips, God hears the cry of injustice proclaimed by the blood on the ground. God knows and hears everything, God is sensitive to every cry for justice. God hears and knows your innermost cries for justice when you are wronged. Efrem challenged us to consider: what if the Church’s ears were that sensitive? What if we heard the cries of those hurting even without them having to speak a word?
The Canaanite woman cried out to Jesus because her daughter was being tormented by a demon. Efrem explained that Jesus’ response was a test to see if she would persist. She does persist but she settles for only what she asked for, her daughter’s healing. Compared to full transformation that Jesus can make possible, this is just crumbs. Efrem’s challenge to us was that we not settle for just some blessing but that we should be so persistent that we press in and go for the whole thing! We don’t have to settle for crumbs from the table, we can sit at the table with the Lord and be blessed as much as anyone else. Here Efrem reminded us of Gal. 3:28. The Canaanite woman could have asked for a total transformation for herself as well. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by, find out what God has in store for you!
"Woodland has been a HUGE blessing to us during this Covid season and we trust these powerfully positive experiences will continue for years to come! We have been seeking to follow Jesus for all of our adult lives - and the ministry of Woodland Hills is so encouraging to our continued growth. "