Monday, October 27, 2014

Looking Forward to November 2, 2014 -- The Healing of Naaman

This week marks the beginning of a series of readings  from the prophets which will last until the Sunday before Christmas when we will begin to follow Matthew's Gospel.

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • 2 Kings 5:1-14
  • Matthew 8:2-3
The Sermon title is Go Take a Bath!

Early Thoughts:  Wash and be clean.  A simple command.  So why does Naaman get so upset?

As it happens, I wrote a short devotional based on this passages from 2 Kings a couple of weeks ago.  Here is what I said there:

Why do we make it so hard?? Why do we think we have to jump through hoops to be clean and whole in God's eyes?
Maybe, like Naaman, we want a sign of wonder and power. Maybe, like Naaman, we think we are so important we deserve such a sign.
But remember the beginning of the faith story, where God calls all things good. Remember the Christ who told the lepers that they were clean, the Christ who proclaimed God's forgiveness.
It is easy to be whole in God's eyes. Easier even than bathing in the Jordan. We just have to say “here I am, heal me”. Why do we make it harder?
Action Step: On those days when you feel unlovable or unclean stop and look in the mirror and say “I am a beloved child of God”. For that matter do it at least once everyday.
Parent God, help me always remember how easy it is to place myself in your loving arms. Amen.
 In part I am wondering what does it mean to be clean?  To be unclean?  I don't think the story is about leprosy (a term which covers a whole range of skin conditions in Scripture).  Or at least I don't think the story is ONLY about leprosy and the power of God revealed in Elisha.  It is about contagion and how we respond to the unclean in our midst.

The Levitical law approach to "leprosy" had nothing to do with curing it.  It had everything to do with containing it, with limiting the spread. Much of the Levitical law is, in essence, a Purity Code -- it tells you what to do to remain "pure" or "clean" (and how to become clean again after something has made you unclean).  But this is not enough for Naaman, or for Elisha, or (apparently) for God.  It is not enough to limit contagion, why not get rid of it altogether.

It seems to me that many people have been told that they are somehow unclean or unacceptable or a source of contagion.  How do we respond?  Jesus, when faced with a leper, said "I do choose, be clean".  As followers of the Risen Christ we are constantly told that we are made clean.  Even without bathing in the Jordan.  Do we believe that we are clean?

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