Activity – Have you seen your face?
This is great for an up-front demo, hilarious at a youth group, and perfect for Messy Church – particularly good in a daddy-daughter pairing.
You will need:
- Large selection of make-up / face paints / hair accessories
- One mirror
- Camera to take embarrassing photos
What to do:
- Put people in pairs and have each ‘do’ one side of the other person’s face and hair. The person being ‘done’ should not know what they look like.
- When everyone has one side of their face decorated, take it in turns to look in the mirror for 5 seconds only. It is very funny watching people’s reactions when they see their faces!
- Now each person must attempt to complete their face and hair to match. You can give prizes for the best match, worst match, most colourful etc.
Then, obviously, take photos and post them everywhere.
We’ve all done it: got something out of the freezer, checked the cooking time on the back, bunged it in the oven … and then fished the wrapper out of the bin because we’ve forgotten how long to put it on for.
I’ve sometimes had to fish the wrapper out of the bin three times before ‘18-20 mins’ sticks in the brain. Why am I so bad at remembering?
The answer to that is psychology well above my pay grade, but it’s comforting to know that it’s not just me. (At least, I think it’s not just me. You’re with me, right?)
Today’s readings have a theme of remembering.
Because we have a habit of forgetting.
In Deuteronomy (which itself is a second going-over, just in case they didn’t catch it first time around) Moses urges God’ people to remember: “Neither forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life.”
Great advice. Do we think it worked?
Ummmn, looking at the rest of the Old Testament, nope.
In Mark, we have Jesus tussling with the Pharisees. Now, on the face of it, they had done a great job of remembering. They knew and observed every little detail of the Law. Surely that’s good, right?
Again, nope. Jesus gave it to them straight: “You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
They were remembering, but remembering wrong. God never said, “Make sure you tithe everything, even your herbs and spices.” God did say, “Look after the poor among you.” Nothing wrong with donating a tenth of your organic fennel and Tasmanian pepperberry, but it’s a bit like doing your hair and make-up to go out when you’ve forgotten to put any clothes on. Kinda missing the point, eh?
James explains the problem. They looked at God’s perfect law, but then forgot. And then they remembered wrong. They looked in the mirror and forgot what their faith looked like.
It’s like that Tesco Cauliflower Cheese Pie we’ve having for tea. 200°/Gas 6 for 25 mins.
Set the oven to pre-heat. Make some coffee, put the washing in the dryer, find someone’s shoes, then remember to put some veg on.
How long did that pie need in the oven? I looked, but I forgot.
“Mum, can we have roast potatoes tonight?” Roasties? Fine, whatever. How long do they need? I think I’ll need to put them on before the pie. Can I do them on the top rack with the pie under? How long does that need again?
It’s really easy to get our gaze distracted from the important stuff to the attention-grabbing-right-now-but-not-important-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things stuff. And God knows that we do this. That’s why he keeps reminding us.
When religion goes wrong it is ALWAYS this problem at the root. God’s perfect law gets twisted and mangled into something completely different by people who look in the mirror and remember it wrong.
And so we focus on how people (usually women) dress, what kind of songs they sing, whether they call a service ‘eucharist’ or ‘mass’. We elevate tiny aspects of the faith to all-important status and make them our gods, while God, in the background slaps his face and shakes his head.
So what can we do, what can I do, to help me remember, and remember right?
Keep looking in the mirror.
And have the humility to realise that I remember stuff wrong.
So even if I am utterly convinced that God thinks THIS about THAT, it might not actually be true. I might be remembering it wrong.
And it was 200°/Gas 6 for 25 mins.
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9
So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you.
You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!’ For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him? And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?
But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children.
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
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. (For 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; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?’ He said to them, ‘Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
“This people honours me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.”
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: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’
Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfilment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.
If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised