This past Sunday’s lectionary reading was of the Syrophonecian woman who comes to Jesus to ask him to heal her daughter. Jesys initially refuses, saying “It’s not right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs”, but after she says that “even the dogs eat the crumbs from under the table” he does heal her daughter.
Lots of writing has been done on this piece, particularly around why Jesus would refuse, and why he would call her a dog to boot! I think it’s important to remember that Jesus was a human, who learned many thing in his life- on Sunday we made a list of things we learn growing up- in school learning to walk, talk, tie a bow, learning to love. So as much as it is hard to understand this story, there is a lesson about learning- that it doesn’t just happen as we grow up, but even as adults- we can learn about people who are different than us, we can grow and change our minds, we can find out new things and grow in our faith and about what God has in store for us.
The message on Sunday was from the mother’s perspective. “So many children, lost, sick and dying, and so many parents, risking life and hearts to find hope for their children.” In a sad alignment of story and current events, this woman was from Syria, the same country where there is civil war tearing lives apart, causing many people to flee as refugees. Last week a photo of a small boy, Aylan Kurdi, washed up on the shores of Turkey after the boat his family was taking sank. He is sadly one of many who are caught between the danger at home and the danger of trying to leave.
Here at home, there are also many children caught up in things that have no control over. In our province, 29% of children live in poverty, 10% more than the national average. The Mission and Service group at Neepawa United has been working on the subject on child poverty since spring, and this month, two long planned events are finally happening. A “poverty luncheon” on Sept. 20, which will remind us of the low quality food that people that use the food bank have to eat on a regular basis, will also have guest speakers from the Salvation Army and Family and Child Services share with us a bit of what child poverty in our area looks like. On Sept. 30 we will be hosting a All Candidates Forum, with a highlighted theme of child poverty, as we feel this is an issue that our government needs to prioritize, and which has not been brought up enough in this election. It’s important for us all to learn as much as we can about this issue, so we can better know how to solve it- in the short term, we can donate to help those in need, but in the long term, we need changes to be made so that people don’t end up in poverty in the first place.