Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Healing the Named and the Unnamed

The Mission of Healing lasted one week.  In the end, more than 1000 people received love, prayer, touch and healing.  On Sunday, we gathered for worship in our sister church community, to give honor to God and to the history of the Mission which began there twelve years ago.

The assigned texts for the day involved leprosy and healing.  From the Old Testament (2 Kings 5) we heard the story of Naaman, a Syrian general, a man of power and wealth and stature, a man who had helped to conquer and enslave the people of Israel, and whose wife was served by an Israelite girl who was enslaved.  Naaman suffered from leprosy.  The girl remembered the miracles of the Prophet Elisha, and after a demand from Naaman's king and an invitation from Elisha, Naaman traveled to Israel to meet Elisha.  Elisha sent a message to Naaman that he should bathe in the Jordan River.  Naaman was insulted not to be received in person as a fine man, but in the end, he bathed and he was healed.

Our sister pastor asked a few questions of the congregation, gathering from them the reminders that although Naaman was powerful and wealthy, he suffered; that an unnamed girl shared her faith and knowledge of a path toward healing; that the poor, the humble, the enslaved are gifted by God to reach out, to share, to heal.

A leper went to Jesus, he knelt before Jesus, and he said, "if it is your will to heal me, you can heal me."  Jesus healed the leper.  Our sister pastor asked more questions, guiding the congregation to think about the stories...

+  Naaman's name is known.  Why?  He was a man of power and means.  
+  What was the name of the man who sought healing in the Gospel story?  He is unnamed.  He is called "the leper."
+  Why do we know Naaman's name but we know the other man only as "the leper"?  How were lepers treated in the time of Jesus?  Lepers were outcasts, forced to live outside of the community.  There are so many who suffer in our own communities, in our own countries, in our world.  We know the names of the famous ones, the powerful ones, even they suffer just a little.  But the media, the news, the gossip chains do not share the names of the poor and the marginalized who suffer.  We have to open our eyes and our ears to recognize those who are suffering in our communities.
+  What are the leprosis of today?  Cancer, gang membership, HIV, other religions, poverty...
+  What did Naaman do to be healed?  He wanted to be healed.  He humbled himself, to listen to a poor girl who was a slave, he had to abandon his proud attitude toward Elisha and go bathe in the river.
+  What did the leper do to be healed?  He sought Jesus out, he knelt, he asked.  He was humble and faithful.
+  What did Jesus do?  He touched and he healed.

We are all lepers.  We all need healing.  We need to seek Jesus out, to kneel before him, to ask in faith to be healed.  Jesus will heal us.

We are all slave girls.  Jesus uses us to heal each other.  We need to look and to listen for those who are hurting, for the lepers in our communities.  We need to touch and Jesus will heal through us.

Amen.

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