Maybe you have heard the expression, “Sacred cows make gourmet hamburgers”? This week’s Gospel Lesson (Mark 7:1-8; 14-15; 21-23) got me thinking about the things we hold sacred and what exactly is it that we, that I hold to be sacrosanct? What are the sacred cows that each of us holds on to and makes “untouchable”? We all live our lives and we like to think that we have everything in hand and under control. If we want something we go out and get it. All it takes is making the payments on the Visa or the loan or whatever, right? It’s good for the economy and it is good for us, right? It’s our house, our car, our kids, our city and our church... there for it must ours... right?
The challenge that I perceive being made by Jesus in the Gospel to those to whom he was speaking (including and in particular his disciples) is a simple and yet hard one in our North American culture. He is asking us to come out from behind the culture and its traditions and be people who are going to listen and follow God according to what God calls us to do. Which would you rather do love and do what God commands or make up a rule that, in your own mid at least gets you around having to do what needs to be done.
We have our rules and our laws. We live in a society where such rules and laws are made by the lawmakers and we are to obey the rules set down for us. But how faithful are we really at obeying them? How many times have you gotten into a car or other such vehicle and broke the law by speeding?
And I am not just talking about on the highway, what about in town? Do we think we get away with such behaviour because we are not stopped and ticketed by the police?
The reason I pick on this is that I think that is the way most of us, including me, like to live. It is okay if we can get away with it. It is not really breaking the rules; just making them bend and stretch a bit. Therein lays the problem. We have made our own rules and decided what is right and safe for us and have disregarded what it could and does do to other people. Such thinking and doing is where Jesus steps in and says, no way, no thanks. Why, because we become like the rabbi who was so determined to honour God by washing his hands properly before he ate out in the wilderness, his friends who came to join him found the rabbi nearly dead of thirst from not drinking enough water which he had in ample supply.
Maybe I can get what I am trying to say better this way, through the verses of a favourite psalm of mine, “Put your trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and feed on its riches. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord and put your trust in him, and he will bring it to pass. He will make your righteousness as clear as the light and your just dealing as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” (Psalm 37:3-7) Christianity is about the relationships we maintain long before we worry about the traditions we keep. We need to trust in God and wait for God to act.
And in the meantime maybe we could start considering those things that need to be let go of so that they can find their ways to the BBQ... Ah, hamburgers! Can you smell the sizzle?