Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sermon for the Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost

Your faith has made you well.

The letter to the Hebrews tells us:
faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
the conviction of things not seen.

Faith allows the miraculous to be a reality.

We hear today of the role faith plays in healing,
the role faith plays in the bringing in of those who were out.

These ten lepers were the lowest part of society.
They were excluded from all aspects of society,
they were completely on the outside of everything.
And because they couldn’t go to the temple or the synagogue,
they were outside of God.

It was a dreadful, in the truest sense of the word, predicament.
This horrible disease had placed these people to the outer edges of the universe, a place where God could not reach them.

They don’t ask Jesus for healing. They ask for mercy.
Their life situation had reduced them to beg for not wellbeing,
but just a touch of hope.

Furthermore, one of the lepers is a Samaritan.

We will remember that Samaritans were regarded as pretty low on the social scale.
So not only does Jesus heal those who were regarded as outside of God, he heals one who would also be regarded as an enemy. 

This Samaritan leper represents all that is wrong in the eyes of the old way of being.

In this one man, all that is to be rejected, ignored, and scorned is present.

And to make this point even stronger,
it is the Samaritan leper who responds to Jesus.

He turns back, praises God with a loud voice, and prostrates himself at Jesus feet.
The others, who we can only assume were Israelites,
go off to show the priests, as Jesus told them to.

But this Samaritan acknowledges that something far greater is going on.

The other nine go to the priests to thank God for their healing.
The Samaritan works out something far greater has happened, something far greater is happening.

That far greater thing is that God is incarnate in the person of Jesus,
that God’s healing power and love is present in the man who stands before him.

Who are the leprous Samaritans in our time?
Who are those who are regarded as enemies,
who are regarded as being outside of God in our society?

Who are the leprous Samaritans in your life.
Who is there in your life who you can’t stand to even think about?
What is the leprosy you see around you?
What is the section of society, the behaviour, the class, race, or religion of people that you struggle with?
Who is the person who you think of being outside of God’s mercy?

To those people, to that person,
Jesus puts his hands out and brings in, and loves.

Jesus heals those who we may be repulsed by.

Maybe it is us
who are quick to dismiss,
quick to remove from our sight,
quick to judge and damn those we don’t like,
maybe it is us that need the healing.

Maybe our behaviour toward our fellow human beings,
even our brothers and sisters in Christ is making us lepers to the world around us.

Maybe it is us who need to ask for God’s mercy for our behaviour that can be very unchristian.
Maybe it is us who need to prostrate ourselves at Jesus feet.

The good news is the Jesus is the healer of all.
He heals those who are lepers, he heals those who treat others as lepers. All can be healed by Jesus, and he never refuses anyone who asks.

We as a parish need healing.

We are about to say goodbye to St Mary’s in Greta.
That will hurt, and will leave a wound which will need healing.
The community in Greta will be upset and angry that what they had believed would always be there, will no longer be.
There will be healing work to do with the people of Greta.

There are relationships within this parish that need healing.
There are memories and hurts that need healing.
The vast division between our two centres needs healing.

What has been allowed to stay an open wound must be healed,
and we all have a role to play in that work.

The truth is, if the wound remains open, it will start to fester, it will rot, and it will eventually kill the parish.

The time has come for us to begin this most important work.
As a parish, this is our most important work.

This work begins most simply with forgiveness.
It is time to let go of any anger, hurt, or pain,
and give it to Jesus to be healed.
It is time to be whole, not a part.
It is time to forgive any wrong that has happened.

This is the first step on the way to healing.

As forgiveness flows, so will healing.
As God forgives us, we forgive others.
As God heals us, we can heal others.
As we are healed, our church is healed.
And as our church is healed,
so we can heal our communities of all that causes them suffering and pain.

Jesus said:‘your faith has made you well.’

You faith will indeed make you well.
God will heal you through your faith.
God will heal our church as he heals us.

Lord Jesus, let your healing love be upon us.

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