Sunday, June 30, 2019
Texts: From Proper 8 and Proper 9, June 30 and July 7, 2019, respectively:
- First Reading 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14
- Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20
- Second Reading Galatians 5:1, 13-25
- Gospel Luke 9:51-62
- First Reading 2 Kings 5:1-14
- Psalm 30:1-12
- Second Reading Galatians 6:(1-6) 7-16
- Gospel Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
I stood gazing at the shore, watching wave after wave roll in. I swam in those same calm waters, I felt the tide at high and low. I watched dazzling lightning and heard thunder roar and watched the waves grew fierce and the currents strong; rip tides with conflicting currents sideways to the beach. From the widow at night, or the covered back porch, I watched the wild dark sea and it wanted to sing me to sleep; only I had to close the window, turn on the fan and listen to its mechanical swish moving air conditioned air through the bedroom. So I awoke multiple times at night ill at ease, then early in the morning and strolled along in the sweltering heat of sunrise. My first morning I came across a newly laid clutch of sea turtle eggs being marked out by the turtle patrol, ever watchful for the shy creatures that only come ashore at night when the crowds are gone. Crowds (including myself) which on calm days would wade way out onto a sandbar where the soft breeze blew and warm waves were like gentle caresses, rocking us into calm tranquility.
I slowed down enough to notice – and therefore was reminded – how each cycle of tides is like a breath, breathing in and out, in and out, finding its sacred center, then spreading out again to fill the shore with completeness, then retracting to center once more. Thanks to the moon and tides, this reminded me to slow down: Breathe; and find my sacred center in God.
But we all know that calm times and stormy times also come with the seasons. Our last night in Florida I watched bursts of sheet lightning illumine several cloud structures, and the darkened sea grew louder as it pounded the shore. Thunder rolled, but no rain fell on our back porch. Then Saturday, on our 5 and a half hour drive north to get to the airport on time, we must have passed through that same storm, it having come inland during the night. Lightning flashed, Thunder immediately following as loud as I have ever heard it, right overhead. Rain poured on the windshield, visibility shrunk, and cars on either side of the interstate crept along with their hazard lights blinking, as if to say, Beware! Mind the Storm! Watch out for everyone and everything carefully! Watch…watch…watch…
Last week Elisha watched as Elijah was lifted up. Elisha inherited a double portion of prophetic power. Last week the Psalm eloquently gave voice to creation’s witness, and Paul’s letter to the Galatians reminded us to live in the Spirit. We read of when Jesus set his face to Jerusalem knowing what would take place there, and yet, he fixed his face anyway. For me, listening to all of you, reading and learning, a theme emerged tying all last week’s scriptures together. A theme identified by Jill Duffield in her weekly reflection: The theme of action, movement, and decision.
Last week Jill wrote of a crossroad of faith and action, heaven and earth, where the texts meet with social justice needs of our current times. Just as Elisha would not leave his master, ever watchful for God’s chariots of fire, just as Jesus would not take “just a minute, Lord” or “Yes, but…” from anyone once he set his face toward Jerusalem, so Jill writes that it is time for Christians to stand up to the injustice being perpetuated in our country. Therefore we pray for peace when there is no peace… The call is clear: a call of action, of movement, of decision. Are you ready?
The salvation story has been handed down to you, yet there are still those who need saving. Examine your own story in light of God’s story of salvation; then write that salvation into the lives of others – for God loves all, especially the downtrodden, the underdog, the under-served, and those in need of caring support. The call is clear: a call of action, of movement, of decision. Are you ready?
Naaman, a man of action of a neighboring country usually at odds and an enemy to Israel’s nation-state is sent to Israel’s king, to ask for physical healing. I wonder, though; is his story more about a spiritual healing? At first, his reaction is physical, and he storms away. Then the reason of those who care about him holds sway. He goes, he is cleansed in his body.
What about his spirit? I wonder, if someone were to write a novel about the life of Naaman after his healing, what would it look like? Where would he go? Whom would he serve? Or, being free, would he only serve himself? Would gratitude and humility touch his soul? Would it touch yours?
Now here’s a thought: what if we had the power God gave Elisha? To whom would we write and offer instructions for being cleansed? Would that person follow through? Would that person turn and serve a Master other than himself and the enemies of the Kingdom of God?
Psalm 30 tells us of restoration from the pit; and the soul and very being of that saved one is like unto a joyous cry of Holy Hallelujahs, praising God – forever.
Our passage from Galatians offers pointed directions for us when we give truth to power…truth to the power of sin:
“if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. 2Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves.
7Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. 8If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 9So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. 10So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.”
Luke tells us Jesus sends out the seventy in pairs ahead of him to every town, preparing his way. Here is the first test of this new movement in Judaism, to heal, to restore, to seek out and save the lost. “8Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’” (My emphasis) Either way, whether they are accepted and treated well or not, the same message is given: ‘’Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.”
If I were to take a page from Luke’s gospel for today, I would have to say, most excellent Theophilus, the call is clear: a call of action, of movement, of decision. The kingdom of God has come near…Are you ready? Will you be counted among its members?
May all glory be unto the One who lived, died, and rose again for us and for all, even Him who is the Christ. Amen? May it be so.
Questions for Reflection
- What are we tempted to put before our loyalty to Jesus?
- When have we said, “Yes, Lord, but …”?
- Why do you think Jesus warns his would-be follower that the Son of Man has no place to lay his head? What do you think he is trying to convey?
- Have you ever “taken up the mantle” of some work? Handed the mantle of ministry to someone else?
- What is the significance of Jesus being rejected by the village of Samaritans? Where else in Luke do we encounter Samaritans?
- How do we move forward into the work God calls us to do, no matter how challenging? What is the faithful balance between remembering and/or honoring the past and looking ahead to God’s plan for the future?
- God heals and commands us to go out into the world and heal others. How are you a healing person? What situations around you are in need of healing? How can the church be an agent of healing?
Household Prayer: Morning
Each morning when we wake up we are reminded of your presence. The light of the sun, the sounds of the birds, . . .your creation serves as witness of your love and your imagination. Let us take it all in and transform our awe into praises that those around us can hear each day and know that you are God. Amen.
Household Prayer: Evening
We have heard your voice, O God. Through smiles, through words, through music, through tears, . . .we have heard your voice! Give us the comfort of your presence as we begin to live out the end of our day, and allow us to have rest and the same peace that your disciples declared when they entered somebody’s home and said, “Peace to this house.” Amen.
 Jill Duffield, “Looking into the Lectionary –Third Sunday after Pentecost,” accessed June 30, 2019, http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1102135377571&ca=9606b4af-1250-42f0-bc16-b3ce90a92f2c.
 Ibid., questions 1-6 come from Jill’s newsletter
 Question 7 provided by Feasting on the Word Worship Companion, Feasting on the Word – Litugies for Year C, vol. 2 ed. Kimberly Bracken Long (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013).