February 09, 2009

Looking Ahead to February 15, 2009 -- 6th Sunday After Epiphany

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • 2 Kings 5:1-14
  • Psalm 30 (VU p.757)
  • Mark 1:40-45
The Hymns this week are:
  • #222 Come, Let Us Sing
  • #365 Jesus Loves Me
  • #266 Amazing Grace
  • #245 Praise the Lord with the Sound of Trumpet
The Sermon title is: Make Me Clean!

Early Thoughts:How do we bring people back into the fold? What does healing mean? How do we make each other clean?

These are stories about people being allowed back into the community. In the Scriptural world leprosy meant you were unclean and unsafe. It really doesn't matter what the skin disorder was (Scriptural leprosy covers a great deal more than Hansen's Disease or "true leprosy"). If you were declared a leper you were no longer allowed to be part of the community. Ostracism in the name of preventing contagion.

To be healed in such a circumstance was far more than a physical act. To be cured would mean that the skin was clear. But healing meant that people accepted you back in. It is suggested that Naaman was stridently trying to avoid being discovered to have leprosy so as to avoid being ostracised. The leper who meets Jesus is so overjoyed at his healing that he can not keep silent. Ostracism, well it sucks, after all.

In Jewish Law the world is divided into clean/pure/acceptable and unclean/impure/unacceptable. Most of the commandments are focussed on keeping oneself clean and acceptable, or returning to a clean state when uncleanness is unavoided (or unavoidable). But as the Christian tradition developed something strange happened. People started to believe that God really didn't care so much about these divisions. Maybe the divisions themselves were human creations rather than divine ones?

Now let us jump to the present. Who are the lepers among us? When do we ostracise in the name of protection? ANd how do we heal the "unclean" we meet? The challenge of faith is to bring healing into a fractured world. The challenge of faith is to put aside the fears of contagion. What do we need to wash away? How do we show the outsiders that they are welcomed in?

1 comment:

  1. Who are the ostracized of today? I have felt for many years that Vietnam vets were -- I'm a child of the era and saw friends and family return "different" even if physically whole. Now I fear the vets of today are also. A story on the news tonight was about the fact that in December, sixteen were killed in combat but 24 military recruiters committed suicide. Where was society or the church when they needed cleansing? (Another reason I despise war.)