Sermon - August 29, 2021 - St. Martin's In the Desert

Sermon – August 29, 2021

August 29, 2021
14 Sunday after Pentecost
Year B

First Reading: Song of Solomon 2:8-13
Psalm 45:1-2,7-10
Second Reading: James 1:17-27
Gospel Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness, and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen

Talk the Talk….Walk the Walk

If you say that someone talks the talk but does not walk the walk, you mean that they do not act in a way that agrees with the things they say:

In the chapter prior to the Gospel that we read, Mark (6:39-43,50,54-56),

“I’m going to say, it was a beautiful day.” 

Jesus had his disciples feed 5000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. 

That night a great storm occurred after his disciples fought the wind in the boats and Jesus walked on water toward them…reassuring them not to be afraid. 

The next day

If you can imagine…everyone recognized Jesus after they got back on land. The people rushed about the whole region and began to bring the sick and laying them on mats to wherever they heard he was…villages, cities and farms… They laid the sick in marketplaces, and begged him, that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak. 


“Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”

Using our imaginations 

Here come the Pharisees….clean white robes…nice sandals and their little scribes following along…. all smug and important.  They gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them.

The Pharisees had built this wall around them…following the traditions of the elders in the Jerusalem religious establishment, the Pharisees and scribes cultivated oral traditions of the elders… supplementary to the law of Moses,

In this story…. they focused on the purity codes for processing and eating food. The Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus, observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; also washing any cups, pots, and bronze kettles.


We should understand where the Pharisees are coming from; we also have a certain 

core of traditions and beliefs that are important to us that make us who we are, that 

define our own behaviors and the way we “think” other people should behave.

In years past, many people left the Episcopal Church, because of the changes that were occurring. 

I still have friends who did not like the change in the BCP from the 1928 prayer book to the current 1979 prayer book.

I recall “the tradition” how you wouldn’t go to church unless you had a dress on, a hat and gloves., But times change, things change and that’s ok.

What comes next!

Jesus “said” to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written…. You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition

Then he called the crowd again and said to them, ‘Listen to me, all of you and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.

 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: 


We have Thousands of people in this country and other countries, that their primary purpose is serving as Humanitarian to save lives, reduce suffering ,and enhance the respect of human dignity.

I wrote this sermon a month ago trying to stay ahead on my Homily’s, and just in this short period of time, things have changed around the world. The devastating earthquake in Hatti and the storms that followed.The fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban army…simply hurts down to our souls. We witness US forces lifting babies over the wall to save them.

We as followers of Jesus Christ have a difficult time understanding and we pray for a successful outcome. The story I am about to tell goes along with what has taken place recently.   

These humanitarians are noble and hardworking people serving those in need, in this country and other countries. Whether it’s supplying clean drinking water, rebuilding after a natural disaster and providing much-needed supplies all actions are taken with one goal in mind, decrease the amount of suffering and in some cases for the world’s most vulnerable people.

I was struck by a picture in an article I had read, and a picture can tell a thousand words.

In 2005 U.S. Army Sergeant Kornelia Rachwal was giving a young Pakistani girl water; from a bottle of water.  The U.S. Army was there in a Chinook helicopter on October 19th, 2005 to airlift some people out of a boomed area. In the picture, the Sergeant’s hands were dirty, her nails were dirty, the little Pakistan Girl had dirt on her face.

 “Now” who do you think God looked down upon as his own and found favor in his sight?  Do you think they were judged for not washing up?? Of course, not! Her intentions were coming from her human heart and all the other great humanitarians that serve from the heart.

What we eat and drink can’t hurt and defile us. Only what comes out of us-ungodly words and actions-can defile us.  Jesus wants us and he wanted his disciples to see that the core of goodness is our hearts, just like the US soldiers. 


When God looks at us, the first thing he sees is the state of our hearts. God doesn’t care about what we look like on the outside. He’s more concerned about what’s on the inside. It’s not the dirty hands that defile, but it’s what comes out of your mouths and what you might harbor and hold in your hearts that can defile you.

We can shower in the morning, put on our best clothes and hat, holding our bible, and come to church…. take communion and still walk out with a heart filled with hate,  You might be fooling those around us, but we are not fooling God.

(Matthew 5:8)

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Why does Jesus say we should be “pure in heart”? The reason is that our heart-our inner being—is the root of all our actions. From our hearts come our motives, our desires, our goals, our emotions. If our hearts aren’t right, neither will be our actions.

(Luke 18:9-14) a (Contemporary English Version)

Jesus told a story to some people who thought they were better than others and who looked down on everyone else:

Two men went into the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood over by himself and prayed,

 “God, I thank you that I am not greedy, dishonest, and unfaithful in marriage like other people.  And I am really glad that I am not like that tax collector over there. I go without eating for two days and week, and I give you one tenth of all I earn.”

The tax collector stood off at a distance and did not think he was good enough even to look up toward heaven. He was so sorry for what he had done that he pounded his chest and prayed, “God, have pity on me! I am such a sinner.”

Then Jesus said, “When the two men went home, it was the tax collector and not the Pharisee who was pleasing to God. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down.  But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.”

Good news

I’m not saying we all need to go to Ethiopia or the Middle East to be a humanitarian we can be one here. I don’t want to rag on the Pharisee’s, they were living during a time where they were keeping a promise to God. Jesus was telling them and now he also tells us, its what is in your heart that is important.

We have been given a life in Christ, every Sunday when we walk up and we take the spiritual food, the body and blood of Jesus Christ, we are given a new life in Christ. We say it in our closing prayer.

Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord.


Jesus is asking us to get our hands dirty, live for and in Christ every moment of every day, in every situation in which you find yourself in with every person.  Jesus is here and now and he is in and with every suffering soul.

If we want to talk the talk then we must walk the walk in Christ. Let your heart be filled with the love of Christ.

The Rev. Lola Culbreath