September 1

Mark 7:1-8

“Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them.” vss. 1-2

The Pharisees were not particularly health conscious…they weren’t worried about germs or pathogens. When they noticed that some disciples had not washed their hands they objected on religious grounds. This was a violation of the law…and they felt obligated to speak up. In our supposedly enlightened times it’s tempting for us to laugh at their legalisms…except that we’re prone to do exactly the same things. Many of us establish some pretty rigid standards for religious behavior and we can be pretty unforgiving about violations. Practices that have developed out of a particular heritage can become codified in our congregation or denomination and sometimes we’re unable to tolerate variations. A new version of the Lord’s Prayer can cause controversy in the extreme and God help us if someone suggests a new way to do communion. Jesus taught his disciples that the essence of the law was the love of God and of neighbor…anything else was subject to interpretation and change. We’re still learning that lesson…and too often we lose the battle with legalism and biblicism. Of course we need order in our liturgies and worship…of course there are behaviors that are immoral and wrong…but grace is the core of the gospel and love is its manifestation.

Thought for the Day:  What is biblicism?

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