Sermon – St Anne’s, Brown Edge 9th October 2016
2 Kings 5.1-3,7-15c Psalm 111 2 Timothy 2.8-15 Luke 17.11-19
There are certain passages of Scripture that we can become so familiar with, that if we are not careful we skim read or do not pay as much attention as perhaps we ought.
I think this passage from Luke’s Gospel is one of those. We know the story and it all looks straightforward.
A story is told of a Church outing to a circus that was visiting the town. One of the acts was a Strong Man who did all sorts of amazing feats. He then took four lemons in one of his big beefy hands and squeezed and squeezed until the lemons were dry.
He then went around the ring asking if anyone thought that they could get any more out of the lemons.
From the Church party a small elderly man got up and entered the ring.
He took the four lemons and began to squeeze them. First one drop, then another until four large drops of juice had been squeezed out of the lemons.
That’s amazing said the strong man – how did you manage to do that?
The elderly man replied, I’m the Church treasurer.
So – let’s see what we might squeeze out of this passage that will help us live as God’s people today.
‘Now on his way to Jerusalem…
This is one of those little phrases that we might easily miss.
In Luke 9.51, we read ‘As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.’
This marks a turning point in Luke’s Gospel – this journey to Jerusalem will bring Jesus to the Cross and to a confrontation with all the powers of the world and the dark powers that lay behind them.
We might infer from the reading that nine of these lepers were of the Faith – Jews, and only one, a foreigner, a Samaritan.
A lesson we learn here takes us back to my opening words about how we can become overfamiliar with Scripture.
Could it be that the other nine as God chosen people almost took it for granted that God would cleanse them of leprosy?
I have a heard number of people who are new to the Faith and who then find great delight in reading God’s word, the Bible. They get excited about their discoveries in this remarkable book.
Have we become a tad sloppy in our reading of the Scriptures?
Do you read the Bible daily, perhaps with a good study guide to help you understand more?
Jesus’ work on the cross, which he is on his way to undertake, will open up the possibility for everyone to become a Child of God. Not just those who belong to ethnic Israel – it will include Samaritans as well.
God’s healing power to cleanse is now to be poured out through Jesus following his death, resurrection and ascension to God’s right hand.
Romans 10.13 - for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Naaman, also foreigner, had to act in simple obedience to receive healing and cleansing.
Our obedience is to call upon the name of Jesus and accept the life of the Sprit dwelling within us.
That cleansing, that healing, that restoration – surely that should make us fall down on our knees in thankfulness.
Last week in my home Church, St John the Baptist, as part of our All Age Harvest Communion, we had a ‘Thankful Wall.’
People were invited to bring something for which they were thankful to God. We had pictures, and toys, and flowers and a whole range of different things.
So – let me ask you, what are you thankful to God for this morning.
‘One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice and threw himself at Jesus feet.’
I remember being with an American friend discussing some initiative we were both involved in. I said that I was quietly excited. He smiled and replied; only a Brit could be quietly excited.Where is our loud voice singing out God’s praises?
Where is our exuberant joy at our salvation?
Would visitors here this morning know that we are people who have been healed, cleansed and restored back into God’s community of Love?
Will the people whom you will meet throughout the week ahead know that you carry deep in your heart the joy of the Lord?
Last week the Church remembered St Francis. With this in mind, I sat and watched one of my favourite films by Franco Zeffirellie, ‘Bother Son, Sister Moon.’ This is a highly romanticised version of Francis’ re-birth and the beginning of the Franciscan Order.
Yet for all of that the story remains powerful and strong.
How free are we, how full of joy at the simple things in the life? The song of the birds, the smell of autumn, the laughter of friends.
I am not suggesting that we go around with stupid false grins on our faces, but that we know deep down in our souls that joy that comes when we know that we are a child of God. Beloved by him - one of his precious daughters or sons.
The 14th century mystic and anchorite, Mother Julian gave us that wonderful phrase, ‘all shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.’
God alone knows what you are facing at the moment…
However, no matter whatever it is you are facing, if your cry out, as did these ten men, Jesus, Master, have pity on us. Then Jesus will respond and bring you cleansing.
You will then be able to find comfort in the knowledge that ‘all shall be well and all things shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.’
In the knowledge that although we may not see it or feel it, God is working his purposes out in our lives, we can then live in thankfulness for all God has done for us in Jesus.
Knowing that God is working out his purposes in our lives might cause us to shout out with a loud voice in praise and thankfulness occasionally.
For as we read in Romans 8.37-39
… in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now isn’t that something to get more than quietly excited about – something to get jubilantly joyful about? So, how are you going to share and show the joy of the Gospel in the week ahead with the people you meet.
Let me close with some beautiful words written by his Holiness Pope Benedict XV1…And only where God is seen does life truly begin.
Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is.
We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.
Each of us is the result of a thought of God.
Each of us is willed,
Each of us is loved,
Each of us is necessary.
There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel,
By the encounter with Christ.
There is nothing more beautiful than to know him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.
So, how are you going to share and show the joy of the Gospel in the week ahead with the people you meet.