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14 Pentecost (Back to School) - Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

In the boys' bathroom, there's a poster by the sink showing us how to wash our hands.

Girls, it's important that you do this too.

We need to use soap.

We need to scrub.

Why is this so important?

It helps keep us healthy, safe from little germs that can do big harm.

That's also why we wear our face masks.

I'm so proud of all of our preschool kids, and many of our adults, for remembering to

wear them to keep others and ourselves as safe as we can.

But some of the students in Jesus' class didn't wash their hands correctly.

Teachers in a different classroom tattled on them.

But it wasn't because they were worried about anyone getting sick.

They just wanted other people to follow their rules, because they liked being in charge and feeling important.

It was their version of the I'm-better-than-you game.

My class is better than your class because we wash our hands the right way.

"What, you even don't have a sink?

That's your fault"—things like that.

Read The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss and you'll see how silly and sad this game is.

But it's a game we all play.

When I was in school, boys kept at least six feet away from girls so we wouldn't catch cooties, which were scarier than Covid and death, I don't remember why.

"We're different, we're better because we wash our hands or we have more money or nicer stuff" or's all silly and sad.

And Jesus says so.

He says, the stuff to be afraid of isn't outside of you.

It's not cooties or germs or food or the wrong people.

The real danger is inside you.

It's your wanting to be better or to have more than others.

That's a sickness inside your heart.

Instead of worrying about washing your hands and your food, scrub your heart.

How do you do that?

You need God's help.

It helps to tattle on yourself and admit you need help.

But God has already given us one sink for everyone to share.

The bowl where we get baptized washes our hearts clean and gives us God's Spirit, who is like an automatic sprinkler system.

Our hearts keep getting dirty, just like our hands, so God's Spirit lives inside us to keep washing.

One Lord, one baptism; one Spirit, one sink: we all get the same because we are all loved the same—equally and totally—by the same beautiful God.

So we can all stop playing our sad, silly games and enjoy and appreciate and love each other.

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