Sunday, February 08, 2009

Readings for this Sunday the 6th After Epiphany, 15th February 2009 are 2 Kings 5:1-14 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Mark 1:40-45 Psalm 30
In this week's readings we see something of the application of
Healing, wellness, and wholeness
God wants more for us than we want for ourselves
The story of Naaman the leperthat we read this week
is a confronting one for all of us who think
we have our lives well under control.
Naaman is a powerful, successful man
and yet he is sick.
He has the sort of sickness
that people will not tolerate socially-leprosy
Quite what this was in his case is not clear.
we have rather poor attitudes
to leprosy
largely what we have been (wrongly) taught.
(see for example the life of Damien of Molokai)
Nevertheless it is something that would have taken
Naaman out of circulation,
perhaps by disfigurement
certainly because of ritual prohibitions
designed to prevent infection
---Primitive but effective---
Naaman, like many who become seriously sick,
find their life is taken over
and they are no longer free to do what needs to be done.
the handsome,
the powerful,
the successful
is sick.
What to do?
He uses his connections to get to the doorstep of Elisha.
He will have done this sort of things many times before.
As a highly motivated person he is used to
identifying the problem
finding a solution
and effecting the operation.
This is how a highly successful person operates.
The only trouble is that sickness
is not a cash flow problem
it is not a stock shortage
or a management crisis.
If we are to be made whole
then we will need more than just management
or even skill.
We will also need openness to God
a fair degree of humility
and preparedness to change.
If you think about in-depth healing
or wholeness
we understand that there is more to it
so he is deeply confronted.
Elisha is not actually over-impressed by his status
he can barely come out of his house
he sends an underling to communicate with Naaman
and Naaman is not impressed.
Let us look at some of the things that Naaman does
which might expose some of the issues
he brings lots of money
but his healing is not going to be paid for by lots of money
he shifts the responsibility to another person,
In the process that person (the king of Israel) is deeply stressed
and he doesn't know what to do.
We often do this.
This is different from sharing the responsibility by inviting others to pray for you.
Healing will require that we open ourselves
not just that we get someone to do the slog for us
he needs to learn about simplicity, humility and obedience.
Elisha is very offhand with him.
He refuses to let Naaman think that this is the only problem in the world.
This is hard for us to endure.
In the end he is required only to be faithful to a simple process and to submit to that
he is seduced by the spectacular.

"‘I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the
name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy!

Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of
Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?’ He turned and went away in a

..when things do not go as he wants
then at least he demands spectacle
spectacle that shows he is pretty special?;
spectacle that shows God is taking notice?

Are you beginning to get the idea that there is a lot going on?
Naaman needs to confront a whole lot of stuff in himself:
Pride, arrogance, self-righteousness, lack of faith....
all of these things will be up for grabs
if we open ourselves to wholeness rather than just removal of symptoms.

Finally, the Gospel reading (Mark 1:40-45)
tells of another lepe the dialogue with Jesus says...
"‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’
There is (again) more here than waving of hands
the man is asking to be brought inside the ambit of Jesus's life and faith...
If you choose
and we are assured that Jesus does choose
But he chooses not just curing symptoms
but fulness of life
not just a narrow healing.
To us Jesus says, I do choose...
but we may have to confront,like Naaman,
our pride, our lack of humility,
our notion of our own importance,
certainly our sinfulness
and be prepared to enter into the abundant life
that we are being offered.
...more coming

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