Sunday, August 28, 2016

How Rude!

August 28, 2016 Practicing Love: How Rude! Pastor Carol P. Taylor

We're working thru the aspects of Love as depicted in 1 Corinthians 13.
I must confess, this series on Practicing Love has got me thinking! One would think this morning's theme, Love is not rude, would be a piece of cake for us all!  We're from the MIDWEST! We are polite! Well unless someone cuts us off at the stoplight...

Love is not rude” 1 Corinthians 13:5a
5  It does not dishonor others, NIV
5  does not behave rudely, NRSV?
5  love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; GNT

hmm, well irritable...yes sometimes..(this morning in fact when I overslept!). So again, we are looking at the Practice of Love. Why 'Practice”? Because sometimes we have to work at sharing the Love of God as well as we should!

Scripture Luke 17:11-19
11  Now on his way to Jerusalem,  Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.  12  As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[b]  met him. They stood at a distance  13  and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master,  have pity on us!”
14  When he saw them, he said,  “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”  And as they went, they were cleansed.
15  One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God  in a loud voice.  16  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him―and he was a Samaritan.
17  Jesus asked,  “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?18  Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”19  Then he said to him,  “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

17:12  lepers.  People with leprosy were required by law to keep away from healthy people (Lev. 13:46); these came as close as they dared and called out loudly.

Rules about leprosy,.. which may or may not have actually been “Hansen's disease! Any skin disease one was isolated until examination. Since skin conditions include disease and various sort of rashes. A rash that is caused by an allergy may look and feel terrible! But it's not contagious. It may well look like a condition that is contagious. So in this time, anyone with a skin condition was considered 'unclean', that is to be contagious or not allowed to interact with others.

The Samaritans thought of themselves as Jews - descendants of Joseph's line instead of Judah's, worshiping at the "true" center of faith at Mt. Gerizim - but Jews nonetheless. The rest of Judaism branded Samaritans as "Gentiles" - lumping them in with all the other pagan religions.

as they went.  Jesus’ command, when nothing had yet happened to the men, was a test of faith. They were healed as they went in obedience to Jesus’ word. They obeyed, they said yes, they followed his command and were healed as they went along.

The 10th leper, the samaritan, He was an outsider –outsider among outsiders! Yet he's the one who “saw' that he was healed as he went along and he turned back!

The health the Samaritan leper celebrates at Jesus' feet is a feeling of wholeness he has never before experienced. It is something no priest, no doctor, could measure or prescribe. The Samaritan returns to the source of his healing at Jesus' feet to offer praises of thanksgiving "with a loud voice." He whoops it up in joy!

 if all 10 were cured, then they all could have “seen” this much. What this one leper “sees,” then, is something more. We should recall that in Greek, the same term is used for “healing” as is used for “salvation.” This leper’s eyes are opened to the fact that he is not only “healed,” but “saved” as well.

Accordingly, he “returns” to Jesus and begins “praising” or “glorifying” God.

In these times, if you had any sort of illness, injury or hard times, it was believed to be due to some sort of sin in your life. Remember the disciples asked Jesus about the man born blind, did he sin or his parents? And what was JC response? Neither! This is for God's glory, and he healed him.

The word in the Bible for healing ” is Sozo. (sode'-zo) it means to be saved for eternity, but it means more than that. Remember the languages of this time had fewer words than our modern English, so each word had more than one meaning, actually layers of meaning. So looking at the layers of meaning of these words adds tremendously to our understanding of the Bible. Sozo, this great word, means to be saved for eternity. It also means to be protected or saved from danger, to be healed, made well, to be restored to health and wholeness. Sozo brings shalom! The perfect healing, wholeness and protection of God. When Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God, Shalom is what he meant!

This is what this Samaritan Leper discovered and and why he came back, praising God and worshiped at Jesus' feet. For when we have that powerful love and wholeness that only comes from God, it is only right to praise and worship, in fact I believe we are not completely healed until we DO! And then carry that love, and wholeness to others, in the Name of the One who loves and heals and helps us. .

This Samaritan Leper, an outsider among outsiders, was the only one of the 10 to get it, to understand that he was not just free of his skin disease, but that he was completely free of all that kept him from God and from others. He would never again be an outsider

Have you ever felt like an outsider?
Being the one of the last picked for the team? Being different from your friends, for whatever reason? We've all felt that way on some level, some because of family circumstances, or having a job that required night work, or not having a job. Maybe you had a health issue that affects your abilities, but isn't immediately obvious to others, so you might be called lazy when you are trying to get some needed rest?! How RUDE!

We all have STUFF, everyone of us has something we have had to deal with over the years. And sometimes we act out because of our stuff. We are irritible, or unloving.. And sometimes others act out -because of their stuff.

practice of love.... why call it 'practice'? Because living in love in faith, does not always come naturally to most of us. We may tend to react badly to others' bad behaviour. If someone yells, you may want to yell back. We have to think about how to react and even practice keeping our cool when things-and people- going bonkers, are acting out because of their stuff!

And we need to practice our faith life too. Worship, bible time, prayer, these are all ways to help us stay connected to Our Loving Lord, When we stay connected, then we are more likely to hear, to discern what we are being led to. We begin meetings with prayer, because it's a way for us to help center ourselves and focus on the reason we are here at a church meeting, to serve! Not for ourselves, but to serve!

And practice helps us to know when to say YES when there is an opportunity to reach out to others!

One of the best things about this church and you all, is the heart for mission and outreach. We say yes! We're quick to help when there is a need. We have a lot of missions that we help financially, enough that we have to be somewhat selective with our resources! I know of churches that are not particularly generous in their support of missions.. Need I say that those churches are struggling? In many ways! I confess to a fair amount of pride in the work that we do together with other churches! We take an active role in Caritas, with a few members who alternate attending their monthly meetings. We partner with a couple other churches during our week to host HOF, the local homeless ministry, which is supported by many churches in the area. John Pickart is current board chair of HOF. He also works closely with Meals on Wheels, which many of you help deliver!
And of course, we worked together with Faith Works and a dozen or so churches on the book bag bash. I' suspect you get tired of my going on about that, but it's a powerful example of God can do when a few people say YES to an opportunity to serve! And when we do, we make a difference.

Author Brennan Manning:
The greatest need for our time is for the church to become what it has seldom been: the body of Christ with its face to the world, loving others regardless of religion or culture, pouring itself out in a life of service, offering hope to a frightened world, and presenting itself as a real alternative to the existing arrangement.

This week, I was with a friend who works for a Catholic ministry. It's called Dismus Ministry and they give bibles and other materials to people incarcerated across the country. Dismus started small, and has grown to delivering materials and support in all 50 states, ministering both to the prisoners and the chaplains.  

Ron Zeilinger Sismus Minstry

THis week, prepping for today, our musician decided to play "What Wondrous Love is This?" as special music. 
Then yesterday, I looked for information about this ministry, the very first thing I found was a blog post...(a blog is an online journal) by Ron Z, a post from more than 3 years ago, in which he referneced “What Wondrous Love Is This?” 

NOT a coincidence! 

When requested by prison chaplains for their Catholic inmates, Dismas Ministry distributes free Scripture and faith resources, including Bibles, a unique prayer book for and by inmates, and faith study materials intended to support the faith-based rehabilitation of inmates. A goal is to provide the foundation for a healthy spiritual life that will serve them whether they remain behind bars or are eventually released.

It tells them how to attend Mass, how to go to confession, how to pray the rosary, how to pray the stations, all of those different things,” Zeilinger explained about the material, which also includes a section on saints who also were incarcerated during their life.
It’s wonderful stories of saints who you wouldn’t even imagine … being incarcerated for a period of time in their lives,” he said, naming St. Francis of Assisi, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and St. Peter and St. Paul. “Those are very fascinating stories for the men and women, and they really appreciate that there were these wonderful friends of God who had that prison experience.”

Despite being a prison ministry, Dismas does not focus solely on the needs of inmates. Ron emphasizes that Dismas Ministry “puts victims central.” “Sometimes inmates say ‘my crime is minor’ and they have not thought about how their crime impacted other people, including themselves and their own families. There are victims to all crimes. We need to be aware of and attentive to how to make amends and we do that by teaching scripture.” Ron notes that Old Testament stories like that of Jacob and Esau are powerful teachings on transgression and reconciliation. The philosophy of restorative justice is woven into many of the Dismas materials and into its very mission. As Ron says, when you think about it, “The whole light and ministry of Jesus is one act of restorative justice. Jesus is the mediator, the bridge, in restoring the broken relationship between God and humanity.”

the perfect healing, the Sozo, of Jesus encompasses this restoration that Dismus Ministry is teaching. Ron Zeilinger is a powerful example of someone who said YES to a chance to serve.

In researching him, the first thing I came across was actually an older blog post...a blog is an internet journal. “web log” that folks post online. I happened across this entry from Holy week, 3 years ago. Dismus Ministry is named for the “good thief” of the crucifixion story. Jesus was crucified between 2 criminals. One hurled insults at Him, the other asked, “remember me when you come into your kingdom” and Jesus replied, “today you will be with me in paradise!”

The things that unfolded on the cross between this “good thief” as he has been called traditionally and Jesus is truly remarkable. The entire passage of Luke 23: 33-43 is so profound in meaning that centuries of reflection by many holy people have not plumbed the depths of it.
The words and melody of the great American southern hymn “What Wondrous Love Is This?” keeps running through my mind. It is wondrous that God went to such stupendous lengths to reveal to us the infinite, unconditional love that He has for us fumbling human beings.
If Dismas can make it into the kingdom as the saint of the last minute rescue, there is always hope for the likes of us too. That is why we call ourselves in this prison ministry business “messengers of hope.”
My hope for everyone is that hope abounds in your lives as Holy Week unfolds in all its wondrous love.”

My hope and prayer is that hope abounds in your lives always, that each of us finds an aspect of that perfect love and life from Jesus Christ, that we praise and worship well, and that we continue to reach out in that love to share the Hope, healing, wholeness and saving Grace of Jesus, today and everyday. Amen.  

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