“Itchy Noses”

Worship on the Lord’s Day
3rd Sunday after Pentecost
10:00 am June 26, 2022
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering
as a Worshipping Community
led by the Rev. Bradley Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia              Vocalist: Lynn Vaughan
Elder: Heather Tansem

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

Greeting
L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
P: and also with you.

Lighting of the Christ candle

Welcome and announcements

Silent preparation for worship

Call to Worship
L: It is good to give thanks to the Lord;
P: Let us sing praises to God’s holy name!
L: We will declare God’s steadfast love in the morning,
P: And God’s faithfulness night after night.
L: Let us make a joyful noise to the Lord!
P: For God is good and we know God’s blessings.

Opening praise: Forever God is faithful

Prayers of approach and confession (unison)

Faithful, fruitful God, you call us to follow you, whatever the circumstance, yet we confess we prefer to remain where we are. You offer us new beginnings, yet we continue to make the same choices, guided by our own desires. We make excuses for avoiding your challenge to change. Forgive us, O God. Cleanse us with your mercy and energize us to serve you even when the challenge seems great.

Response: Lord Jesus Christ, son of God

Assurance of God’s grace

Know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that God loves us and forgives us. The Spirit of God resides within us, and God’s dream for each of us is answered every time we let go of unhelpful guilt, and embrace with passion, God’s call to serve.

In Christ we are forgiven. Amen

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: Jesus loves me (373)

Story: How do we know that people are bad or good? See Romans 12:21 – “Don’t let evil defeat you – but defeat evil with good.” (CEV)

Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: Brother, Sister, let me serve you (635)

Today’s Message

Scripture readings: Psalm 16

Galatians 5:13-25                    NT(NRSV)

Response: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet

Homily: “Itchy Noses”

Luke 9:43-50 – Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time

While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, 44 “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

49 “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”

50 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

Samaritan Opposition
51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them[b]?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village.

There is an old Hasidic tale about a woman whose name was Anna Kebbitch. She was a complainer. All day long she complained: “I have so little money, my clothes are like old rags.” “My health is so bad, my back feels like the walls of Jericho.” “I must walk so far to draw water, my feet are like watermelons.” “My house is so small, I can barely move in it.” “My children visit me so little that they hardly know me.”

One day, Anna Kebbitch woke up with an itch on her nose. All day long her nose itched. She went into town to visit the Rabbi. When the Rabbi saw Anna, he asked her, “How are you, Anna?”

Anna replied, “I have so little money, my clothes are like old rags. My health is so bad, my back feels like the walls of Jericho. I must walk so far to draw water, my feet are like watermelons. My house is so small, I can barely move in it. My children visit me so little that they hardly know me. And now, on top of it all, I have this itch on my nose and it plagues me so. Tell me, Rabbi, what does it mean?” The rabbi said, “Anna, your itch is the Kebbitch Itch—the ‘complainer’s itch.’ Its meaning is this: However you consider yourself, so shall you be.

There are a lot of things people complain about. There are a lot of things that make people angry.

According to the author of the blog “Stuff we all hate,” the 20 most common things people list for the things they hate are:

  • Waiting for elevators
  • People that drive too fast
  • People that drive too slow
  • Waiting in line
  • Being interrupted
  • Hiccups
  • Red lights,
  • Unsolicited telephone calls
  • Getting bumped into
  • Someone saying your name wrong,
  • Poor customer service,
  • Getting shocked by static
  • Stubbing your toe
  • Perceived laziness in one’s spouse
  • Automated customer service (calling a company and not getting a person)
  • Being cut off in traffic, commercials that are louder than the show your watching
  • Rising gas prices
  • and Crooked Politicians.

I bet just about everyone can relate to a few of those. And it’s true those things do make us mad.

But the truth is, lots of things make us made. Too many things. Sometimes we just get made about nothing. Overreacting and Complaining is like a national sport of the Western World.

It was November 1999 on a pretty cold night in Lawrence, Kansas. The police were called to a local Taco Bell. The call came from Tiffany Holly the night manager. It seems she and three other employees had locked themselves in the main office of the restaurant. The four of them were terrified. But as it turns out they really didn’t have to be. When the police showed up they found an interesting site. A car was parked just off to the side of the drive though window and a giant dangling pair of legs were hanging out the drive through window (kicking wildly). You see that night Dion Rayford, 6 foot 4; 270lb defensive end for Kansas University open his fast food order at 2am (as he drove away) only to find that it was missing a chalupa (a delicious taco like treat). And like any sane person Dion parked his vehicle, got out of his car, screamed at the teenage employees and finally in his rage attempted to dive through the 14 inch wide drive-though-window in search of the afore mentioned missing chalupa. Of course he didn’t fit. Instead Dion got stuck, and stayed stuck for about an hour. (Hot Ill.Red pg187)

Now I doubt having a restaurant get our food order wrong is enough to send most of us into an unprovoked attack, BUT – is it really any sillier than getting made about having to wait 5 minutes in a bank line at the bank when you’re just going home to read a book anyway? I mean, the other day I found myself really annoyed that I had to stop at a red light until it hit me… I don’t have anywhere to be anyway. I mean, I was so angry I had to sit there (no cars at the side roads… just me) until it hit me… It’s not like I’m gonna be late to preform neurosurgery or foil Dr. Evil from taking over the world.  I’m not Red from Angry Birds and I’ve got to save all the eggs from some evil green pigs (that illustration is just you – you understand me right?) There’s no reason to be mad. There is actually nothing to complain about.

Apparently Mark Twain once said, “If one man calls you a donkey, pay him no mind. If two men call you a donkey, look down at your feet for hooves.” Everybody always thinks they are innocent. But we’re not. Honestly, sometimes when we get mad we should all probably take a look down at our feet to make sure we’re not actually part of the problem first.

In our reading from today, James and John get extremely angry. And although it fits with James’ character, it’s really odd for James’ little brother John who is usually very quiet and timid. But apparently John wasn’t so quite when he got together with his brother. Its sort of an odd fact, but Jesus was really fond of giving nicknames. For example he calls one of the disciples “the twin”. And although we know him as Peter, his real name was Kephas (Jesus nicknamed him Peter meaning Rock. Basically Jesus just nicknamed this guy Rocky and we’ve been calling him that ever since. In mark 3:17 Jesus calls this pair of James and John the Boanērges – the “Thunderbolt brothers”. The nickname was given for good reason.

Luke tells us that as Jesus was making his way to Jerusalem with 12 disciples and the 72 other followers and that they came to a Samaritan village.

Now the Samaritans were a bit of an odd duck back in Jesus’ day. See 700 years before Jesus was born the Jews were taken away from their land. Some of these people intermarried with Baal worshipers and other pagan groups also taken away into captivity. Away from home and temple, people became confused and histories got mingled together and altered. This new Samaritan group grew. After a while the Samaritans started to teach that they were actually the true religion of Israel and that it was the Jews that were the new group.

Samaritans claimed a different lineage and began a kind of spin off (but similar) version of Judaism and referred to themselves as “The Truth” and saw the Jews in a very negative light – like a cult. Samaritans believed in the same God who authored the Torah (the first 5 books of the bible) through Moses. But they rejected all the rest of the books. They believed in a slightly different version of the 10 commandments, had a few hundred minor word changes in their bibles and also claimed that God had given the 10 commandments on Mt. Gerizim (near them) instead of Mt. Siani as it says in the Books of Moses. And so when the people were freed from captivity during the exile the Samaritans went and lived and built a different temple there on Mt. Gerizim (in fact about 750 of these worshipers still exist and even continue to live and worship there today).

Because of all this strange history though the Jews and Samaritans didn’t really get along. Each one saw the other as a corruption of the truth. Well, that’s nice way to put it. The truth is, we often dislike the people who are most like us – for minor differences. They hated each other.

Today when someone says “good Samaritan” it’s the equivalent of saying “good person”. But for Jesus to have spoken about a “good Samaritan” to a crowd of Jews, would have been shocking. It would sort of be like telling a group of American southerners a story about the “good terrorist”. It was just inconceivable that a Samaritan could ever do anything good or decent. The two groups were forbidden from touching one another or eating together and they very rarely communicated. So when travelers like Jesus and his buddies came wandering through a Samarian town on the way to Jerusalem to visit the Jewish Temple when the Samaritans believed the “real temple” was already right there in Samaritan land… that drove them crazy.

Jews never came through Samaritan land. In reality, and as crazy as it may seem to us today, at the time the Jews walked hundreds of miles through the desert in order to go around Samaritan land. And here in our story this Jewish guy with over 80 people comes to town on his way to other Temple and wants to know if he can get some food and water. That’s how the Samaritans saw it.

But James and John didn’t see it that way. They saw a group they referred to as “half-breeds”, that tore their bibles in half, had a corrupt and distorted understanding of God and were now rejecting Jesus (son of the Living God) the coming Messiah – and they were floored. That’s where our story begins today… with two groups of people filled with anger.

James and John were about to earn their nickname. Our reading from Luke says, “they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Jesus. 53 But the Samaritans did not receive Jesus, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. 54 When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”

The “Thunderbolt brothers” wanted Samaritan heads. They had had it. Such disrespect. They just wanted to travel though. They just wanted a little water.

One little red light, One stop sign along the way and they were angry enough that they wanted the Samaritans dead.

But Luke writes on, he says, 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them, [and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; 56 for the Son of Man did not come to destroy people’s lives, but to save them.”

And then it says simply… “And they went on to another village.”

When things didn’t go the way they expected them to go James and John got mad and they complained to Jesus about it.

But what was Jesus’ response?

Jesus’ response is simply to continue on about his business.They don’t want to listen… they don’t want to help???  Okay… let’s just keep going then.

Jesus’s response is to just keep going. In the words of that great profit Nemo you gott “just keep swimming, just keep swimming”.

Someone once wrote, “Speak when you’re angry and you’ll deliver the best speech you’ll ever regret.”

Anyone else guilty of this one?

I know for a fact that I Facebooked the best speech I ever regreated. And then I apparently didn’t learn cause repeated that error more than once.

Anger, frustration, complaints – these have a way of sneaking into our lives. They rear their ugly heads for the silliest reasons. They trick us into seeing only what our burning hearts want to see.

And Then our emotions help us demonize people because it’s easier to hate people if you think there is no possibility of good in them.

But the truth is –even that guy with the bomb strapped to his chest (though far from perfect) still probably kisses his little daughter on the forehead before putting her to bed. The slow moving teller at the bank may well have just found out that her little brother has cancer. That stop light that I got stuck at – It’s only there because the year before (when it was just a four way stop) a man accidentally ran over a little girl on her bike and sent her to the emergency room with a broken collar bone. The light wasn’t put up just to mess with me. It had purpose. And the Samaritans, The Samaritans didn’t know who Jesus was… they just felt insulted and spat on, and belittled by a group of strangers from another country.

And though the Thunderbolt brothers acted out in anger like most of us would, they should have kept on going. They should have kept on driving away from the fast food joint instead of trying to force themselves through that tiny take-out-window. They should have taken a moment to look down at their own feet, to make sure they didn’t have hooves. They should have done what Jesus told them to do in the first place in Luke 9:3-5 when he said “if someone does not receive you, shake the dust off your feet and continue on”. They should have changed their attitude.

The next morning after visiting the Rabbi, Anna woke up and her nose was still itching… itching like never before. She could barely move. Her back had litterally turned to stone (like the walls of Jericho). When she looked about herself, she noticed that her house had shrunk until her arms stuck out the windows and her legs hung out the front door. It was so tight around her that she couldn’t move. On the end of her legs were two huge watermelons where her feet used to be. Her clothes had turned to old rags and were falling apart. When her son and daughter came walking by, Anna called out to them, but they continued walking on, wagging their heads—they really didn’t know who she was. And her nose…oh her nose… it continued to itch. It itched like crazy and she couldn’t reach it.

In despair Anna remembered the meaning of the Kebbitch Itch: However, you consider yourself, so shall you be. Anna began to think about her life:

“You know”, she though “I don’t have it that bad. I have a little money: money enough to live on and a tad more. From now on, I will give out of my abundance to those who are not so well off as me. And my health is not so bad. Actually, for someone my age, I feel quite well. I suppose I’m actually pretty blessed. And I’m glad I have such a nice house to live in. Lots of folks don’t have homes. It’s not large, but it’s comfortable. And it’s mine. And you know, I really don’t mind my walk to draw water now that I think about it. I do love to smell the flowers along the path. And my children—come to think of it, I’m so proud that they have become independent and are now able to take care of themselves and have their own children to care for. They don’t visit that often but that’s because I tought them self reliance. They are strong kids and good too. And they do visit some.

Miraculously, while Anna was saying these things to herself, her situation returned to normal—and her outlook on life changed forever. Her house grew back to normal and her clothes returned to the way they was. Her feet became like feet again.

But her nose… her nose continued to itch just a little for the rest of her life (like a tiny reminder she had nothing to complain about). And slowly Anna began to like that. Like a tiny tug on her conscience it kept her in check.

When the Rabbis tell Anna’s story, they always end it the same way. They pray that everyone will have that little reminder. And so they always end this story with this statement and blessing: “May your noses itch forever”.

This week as you go about your daily lives –

May you find calm – even in times of unrest.

May you find peace in times of anger.

May you learn to wait patiently in line.

May you see the other side of the story, treat the “Samaritans” in your life more fairly than you think they deserve.

When you’re angry…

may you take the time to check your feet for hooves first just to see if you might be part of the problem first.

When things don’t go quite as planned – May you shake off the dust from your feet and continue on.

Share good news and don’t get angry.

And may your noses itch forever.  -Amen

Song: Come let us sing (706)

We respond to serve God

Reflection on giving: We have been giving faithfully since the beginning of the pandemic and we are committed to continuing the ministry and mission that define Dayspring – using the various ways described on the screen and in Dayspring Weekly News. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission. For those in the sanctuary, if you have offering envelopes with you, simply put them in the offering plate at the back of the sanctuary as you leave the service today.

Prayer of gratitude

Transition Music: Be still and know that I am God

Prayer for others and ourselves

God of love, we are so grateful for the gift of Jesus and his willingness to go to Jerusalem on our behalf.  Peace comes to us because we know that we are loved and forgiven people, and we are grateful for your generosity.  We, who lose patience with ourselves, as well as others, are blessed by the infinite nature of your presence within and among us.  Teach us to be gentle in our words and disciplined in our actions.  May we grow in wisdom and spiritual maturity.

God of all time, we live in an age of great change, and we are not always comfortable in it.  As the needs of our culture change, we want to be able to serve your kingdom in ways that are most relevant and helpful for our context.  Help us to let go of traditions that are no longer significant and discern the needs of your people today and tomorrow.  Where there are empty or aching hearts, may we help to fill them with the warmth of your love.  Where there is injustice, show us how we can speak out, take action, and make a difference in individual lives.

God, you know what heartaches each of us is carrying this day; we think of those both known and unknown to us who are suffering, whether physically, mentally or spiritually.  Restore health and wellbeing to each of them, and may they sense your calming presence.

As disciples of Jesus, we want to be intentional servants to the world around us; guide our decision-making in all we do.  Let us not be seen as anything but Yours.

May we be intentional about exercising the fruit of the Spirit with which you have gifted us.  We pray for all of this in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. God of love, we are so grateful for the gift of Jesus and his willingness to go to Jerusalem on our behalf.  Peace comes to us because we know that we are loved and forgiven people, and we are grateful for your generosity.  We, who lose patience with ourselves, as well as others, are blessed by the infinite nature of your presence within and among us.  Teach us to be gentle in our words and disciplined in our actions.  May we grow in wisdom and spiritual maturity. Amen.

Song: Make me a channel of Your peace (740)

Sending out with God’s blessing

Response: Go forth into the world

Music postlude

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Numbers in brackets after a song/hymn indicate that it is from the 1997 Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Those and other songs are being used in accordance with the specified licenses with One Licence and CLC.

The Rev. Brad Childs retains the copyright (© 2022) on all original material presented by him. As far as Brad Childs is aware, all of the material presented that has not been attributed to others is his own creation or is in the public domain.

Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

Posted in Recent Sermons.