Presentation on theme: "O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and."— Presentation transcript:
O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ, Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)
WASH Spoken by the prophet Elisha in the mid-800’s B.C.E., to an Aramean military officer: …WASH yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed. 2 Kings 5: 10
Search: “Aram” = Syria When Abraham sent his servant “home” to find a suitable bride for Isaac, the man went to Aram. (Genesis 24) However, there is fierce conflict between the two nations through most of Biblical history. For example, Naaman, our main character, has recently led a successful raiding party against Israel, capturing a young Hebrew girl who is now a slave in his household. The relationship between Aram and Israel is complicated, at best.
Naaman - 2 Kings 5:1-15 “Naaman was handsome, rich and highly respected. But he was sick with a dreadful disease – leprosy. More than anything this general in the Syrian army wanted to be healed. You would think he’d be willing to do anything toward that end, wouldn’t you? It turns out Naaman was like a lot of us, though, desperately wanting what God can give us, but only on our own terms.” (LSM, Kindle 1263)
From his Hebrew slave, Naaman learns of a prophet in the Samaritan region of Israel who can heal him. But it is complicated to go ask for help from someone in a country you have been raiding! First, Naaman goes through diplomatic channels. He approaches his king, who gives him a letter of introduction to the king of Israel.
Second, he assembles an impressive hostess gift. 2 Kings 5:5 “So he went off, taking with him about 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothes.”
Even these gifts do not buy him what he wants.
2K 5:6-7 Naaman delivered the letter to the king of Israel. The letter read, “When you get this letter, you’ll know that I’ve personally sent my servant Naaman to you; heal him of his skin disease.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he was terribly upset, ripping his robe to pieces. He said, “Am I a god with the power to bring death or life that I get orders to heal this man from his disease? What’s going on here? That king’s trying to pick a fight, that’s what!”
8-9 Elisha, the man of God, heard what had happened, that the king of Israel was so distressed that he’d ripped his robe to shreds. He sent word to the king, “Why are you so upset, ripping your robe like this? Send him to me so he’ll learn that there’s a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman with his horses and chariots arrived in style and stopped at Elisha’s door.
10 Elisha sent out a servant to meet him with this message: “Go to the River Jordan and immerse yourself seven times. Your skin will be healed and you’ll be as good as new.”
11-12 Naaman lost his temper. He turned on his heel saying, “I thought he’d personally come out and meet me, call on the name of God, wave his hand over the diseased spot, and get rid of the disease. The Damascus rivers, Abana and Pharpar, are cleaner by far than any of the rivers in Israel. Why not bathe in them? I’d at least get clean.” He stomped off, mad as a hornet.
“It turns out Naaman was like a lot of us, desperately wanting what God can give us, but only on our own terms.” Elisha does not acknowledge Naaman’s power. He does not accept Naaman’s money, before or after the miracle. Elisha doesn’t even come in person!
Bruce Larson: “Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be well?”
13 (Naaman’s) servants caught up with him and said, “Father, if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not this simple ‘wash and be clean’?”
14 So he did it. He went down and immersed himself in the Jordan seven times, following the orders of the Holy Man. His skin was healed; it was like the skin of a little baby. He was as good as new. He then went back to the Holy Man, he and his entourage, stood before him, and said, “I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no God anywhere on earth other than the God of Israel.”
So, who are you in this story? Naaman, desperately in need of healing? The King of Israel, unnecessarily despairing because you cannot do something that was never yours to do in the first place? Naaman, insisting on the hard and heroic when offered the simple and direct?
Who do feel challenged to become? Elisha, resisting grandiosity while remaining generous? Naaman’s servants, daring to speak truth to power? Naaman, willing to try the simple when powerful and expensive solutions fail?
Or best of all, perhaps, the slave girl, generously offering help and hope even to those who harm you?
To Your cross, O Lord, we come for healing, for You alone can make us whole. We come with the broken-hearted and broken- spirited, for You alone can make us whole. We come with those with broken relationships, for You alone can make us whole. We come with the broken in body or in mind, for You alone can make us whole. We come with the weak and the handicapped, for You alone can make us whole. We come with the sinners and the guilty, for You alone can make us whole. Amen. (LCM, Kindle Locations )