13th September 2020
Good Morning all. I hope this finds you well.
Over the past few months we have looked at a number of Bible passages, each with a message for us in our everyday lives. I have purposely used all of the Gospels to give you a flavour of the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. As well as texts from the Old Testament too.
I hope you can see that the Bible is not an outdated , out of touch book –as many in the world think – but still has a meaning and a relevance to our lives today.
We have also had a foray into some of the Miracles of Jesus which show us the Power of God, through the authority of His son Jesus.
There are many themes, topics and amazing lessons for us to learn from this remarkable book – or rather collection of Books, which we call ‘The Bible.’
I don’t know how long this lockdown is going to restrict us – or how long you can endure (or enjoy?) my weekly ramblings (aka ‘The Rev’s Ramblings’) – but I would hope to look at many more interesting, thought provoking and fascinating passages to see what we can learn from them, in the weeks to come.
With this in mind, I plan to take a look at some of the ‘Healings of Jesus’ as found the New Testament – and again, see what treasures we can find hidden in and between the lines which still speak to us today, in our own modern day world.
But before that – let us pray ~
we praise you for the immensity of your love:
the love that brought the universe to birth; the love that designed and ordered our world; the love that breathed life into humankind.
we praise you for the enormity of your love.
we praise you for the endurance of your love:
the love that came to share our human life; the love that died for us upon the cross; the love that triumphed over hatred and death.
we praise you for the endurance of your love.
the love that brought your Church to life; the love that transforms hearts and minds; the love that dares and cares and unites.
God of community,
As you lead us through the crowded streets of living,
Where we must learn and change and grow,
We thank you for those who surround us,
Whom we can call sister and brother in Christ.
Thank you for the jumbled family of faith
That we know as your Church.
It is the Church of forgiven sinners;
Of those with bruised knees and wounded hearts
Who have been soothed and comforted
By the ointment of your love.
For this diverse and gathered Church we pray:
We pray that we may limp
– so that we will always lean on you. We pray that we may be weak
– so that we will always need your guidance. We pray that we may doubt ourselves
– so that we will always trust in you.
As we go about our daily lives,
We pray that you will guide our steps
So that we walk together;
Refusing to march on ahead,
But humbly waiting for those who lag behind;
Listening, lending an arm and a shoulder,
And willing to become the caring, sharing people
You want your Church to be.
Listen to our silent prayers now – as we bring to you our personal prayer of confession – as we recall the many things we have thought, said and done – that we know have disappointed you. Hear us now listening Lord, as we pray in the peace of our silence ~
Lord, bless us with your forgiveness, bless us with your mercy and your grace…………
Be with us as we respond to the calling of Jesus – discovering new things about you – finding out new things about ourselves – and looking for new ways to worship you and to spread that Good News to others so that they too might come to know you better………
Lord we know that you hear our prayers – and so hear us now as we pray the family prayer together – the Lord’s prayer –
Our Father.. Who art in heaven.. Hallowed be Thy name.. Thy kingdom come.. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….. Give us this day our daily bread.. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.. Lead us not into temptation.. But deliver us from evil .. For Thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever…. Amen.
Today we have 2 readings –
2nd Kings 5 : 1 – 14 from the Old Testament (O.T.)
Mark 1 : 40 – 45 from the New Testament (N.T.)
Our O.T. reading this morning is taken from the 2nd book of Kings.
Both 1st & 2nd Kings give a history of the monarchy of Israel and Judeah.
The passage which we are about to read is about a mighty military leader – who had fallen victim to leprosy.
“A special person requires special treatment!” He thought – but he was forced to think again ~
Our N.T reading is also based on a man with leprosy.
A man who came to Jesus in humility – “on his knees” we are told – quite different from Naaman of our O.T. reading.
Let’s Read them now ~
2nd Kings 5 : 1 – 14 New International Version – UK
Naaman healed of leprosy
“Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’
4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 ‘By all means, go,’ the king of Aram replied. ‘I will send a letter to the king of Israel.’ So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents[b] of silver, six thousand shekels[c] of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: ‘With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.’
7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, ‘Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!’
8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: ‘Why have you torn your robes? Make the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.’ 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, ‘Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.’
11 But Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?’ So he turned and went off in a rage.
13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, “Wash and be cleansed”!’ 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.”
Mark 1 : 40 – 42 New International Version – UK
Jesus heals a man with leprosy
“40 A man with leprosy[a] came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’
41 Jesus was indignant.[b] He reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.”
This is the Word of the Lord – Thanks be to God
Have you ever felt excluded ??
Have you ever felt the hot stares and the cold shoulder of those who set themselves up as better then you ?? – “holier than thou?”
It’s not very nice – it’s both disheartening – and degrading.
It is both soul destroying and soul searching – and it is easy to question yourself.
Your emotional pain level goes up – as your self esteem goes down.
Yes – feeling unwanted and un-loved – can seriously damage your health !
Ask any child who is being bullied at school –
Ask any teenager – or adult – who is living with the misery of addiction.
Ask the single mother who is trying to care for her child on her own – with increasing inflation and decreasing levels of benefit or care.
Ask the middle aged man who is suffering the indignity of unemployment – feeling as though he has been cast on the heap – and knowing that his chances of ever getting a job again are almost nil.
Ask the grey faced widower who struggles to maintain the home she once shared with her husband.
With rising bills and the shadow of loneliness – fast becoming forgotten by family and friends.
All lonely – outcast – seeking comfort wanting to be wanted – embraced – loved – touched.
Think of the disfigured face of the Leper – socially outcast – pleading on his knees for Jesus to lift him out of his misery.
“If you will” he asks Jesus “please heal me!” – and we can imagine Jesus smiling that lovely warm smile which says –
“of course I will !” – and he touches the lepers life and he is instantly healed.
Think of Naaman in our O.T.reading – humbled and healed by the amazing power of God’s love.
For centuries, there was no disease more greatly feared than leprosy.
It was the Black Plague – the ‘Aids’ of its day.
“There was no disease” it was said – “which reduces a human being to so hideous a wreck!”
Oh dear – you might be thinking – this is all a bit “gloom and doom” today !
But sadly, for many, aye too many in our world and in our communities, that’s how life is for them – and as Christians we have to acknowledge – and respond to them – as our readings this morning remind us.
But these readings also show us the Good News of hope and healing too.
There were many Lepers in Palestine at the time of Jesus.
They too were outcast from their society – unwanted and uncared for.
Struggling with both the physical and the mental pain of being cast out of society – as many are today.
But Jesus he didn’t see the Lepers as being unclean – but as poor souls in desperate need.
Much as some people today see the homeless and the refugee as a curse on society – while others see them as a case of “there but for the grace of God – go I.”
What do we see – I wonder – when we see the many poor souls who are also in desperate need ?
We see them on our televisions – starving children – war torn families – victims of mans inhumanity to their fellow man. We see them in our own streets.
What do we see ?? Do we see them as being worthy of our time – our touch – our care – our compassion ??
Do we see them as Jesus would see them ? Do we identify with them as Jesus identified himself with them – when He said “whatever you do for the least of my people – you do for me !”
Or do we walk by on the ‘other side’ – preferring to go about our own “important” business – rather than confront the pain of others ?
Many of them have been professional people – mums, dads, grandparents – fallen on hard times they would never have envisaged in their lives. Yes – people like you and I.
Just how ready are we to stretch out our hands to offer them our genuine, heartfelt love and support ?
How willing are we to put our arms around the downcast shoulders of someone in need – to offer the expressionless face in a shop doorway – the simple healing of a caring smile or a kind word ?
That’s what Jesus did – is it what we do ??
Or has our ‘look after number one’ society numbed us to the plight of others ?
Where companies would rather pay off their loyal workforce – than take a cut in their profits ?
Where greed and avarice has condemned millions to a life of gloom and a future of uncertainty – as pension funds are cut – savings lost – while millions of pounds are paid out to the already obese ‘fat’ cats.
What has happened to the compassion and care in our communities ? Has it gone hand in hand with the decline in faith – as many believe more in themselves than they do in a loving Saviour?
And is it partly our fault because we “don’t like” to mention our faith to others ?
Keeping it a secret rather than sharing the joy of the “good news” of a God who cares for each and every one of us.
Paul said – “People need to hear the good news – but how can they hear it unless WE tell them !?”….
And there are so many today – who need to hear the good news of a loving God who offers us comfort in our tough times.
A God who promises to ‘walk with us through the dark days. (Psalm 23 verse 4) –
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.”
Many are materially poor – but countless millions more are spiritually poor too – having no faith in any-thing – no belief in any-one – sometimes not even themselves.
For many, life has no depth – and nothing to believe in – so they have nothing to hold on to when life hits them hard.
How can we want that for those we love !?
And what can we do to help them?
Yes, we can help them – if – we are willing.
And isn’t that just what the Leper said to Jesus !?
Well, first we have to change our way of thinking –
from “world’ thinking – to “God thinking:”
This is what I mean –
What does the world say to those in need ?
“get a grip!?”
“get a job!?”
What does God say to those same people’
“come, sit, let’s talk”
“Believe me when I tell you that I love you”
“Close your eyes and tell me all about it.”
What can we say to those same people –
“come, sit and let’s talk’
“wait ‘til I put the kettle on and let’s see what God’s Word has to say to us about this”
“I know a man who can help – we can call Him now, I have a direct line. Let’s close our eyes so we don’t get distracted…let’s put our hands together so we can focus better…”
Helping others, loving others, caring about them, even if they are strangers – is not beyond of any of us. But we have to have a willingness to want to.
Over these past few months we have seen many kind and generous gestures and that is to be commended – kind people making kind gestures to those in greater need.
But there are many more who are in greater need, those who have lost loved ones, lost hope and the will to live. Many are wandering through life wondering what it is all about, going down wrong paths, getting lost.
Many of them are crying out for help – but are we – you and I – willing to help them?
We can if we are willing.
And that opens up a whole other conversation about our priorities and our use of our valuable time.
When this awful Pandemic is over – there will still be people in need of help; people in need of support and care; people in need of a kind word and a warm cup of tea and a hug.
Will we be there for them?
Will we show them the love of Jesus?
Does our love extend beyond those we know and love ?
Does our compassion stretch outside our cosy circle of friends and family ?
For some – it does…….. For others it’s beyond their comprehension as to why we would want to love people we don’t even know !
“Love others” – He says – “just as I love you”.
What has happened to the compassion of our world – our nation – our societies ?
And what is the answer ?
Well – I believe the answer is to follow the example of Jesus.
In our N.T. reading for this morning we see that Jesus did 2 things.
- He showed compassion where others did not
- He physically touched the troubled man.
Showing compassion in an ever hardening world is often seen as a sign of weakness – but not for Jesus.
It shows a kindness and a caring consideration – actually a great strength.
And in touching the leper, He showed that He was not afraid to be vulnerable.
It was in His words and by His touching, that He healed the distressed man.
That’s why we love Him.
That’s why we worship Him.
That’s why we should tell others about Him – by our words and by our actions.
That’s how we can help heal those who are troubled.
- By our Words of comfort
- By touching their lives
- And by Praying
(see Philippians 4 : 6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”).
And maybe then by showing compassion, practical help and praying for them – the world might become a more loving, compassionate and caring place to be
And you – we – can be a part of a change in our communities – our society and around the world – and so heal so many poor souls who need our help and our prayers – and we can be a part of it……
Jesus had the power to change lives – so too do we, through Him.
What a thought !!
What a privilege !!
What a blessing !!
And all this – in Jesus’ name.
And may God bless this preaching of His holy word – and may all the glory and the praise – be His.
Let us pray – Prayers in Remembrance of 9/11.
Heavenly Father – be with as we remember those heartbreaking events of 9/11.
Stand with the world as it stands still for a few moments in silent tribute.
Bless those who lost loved ones that day and still remember it as if it were yesterday. Give them your blessings of peace and comfort as their tears flow and their memories come flooding back.
We pray for the world where wars and conflict still takes the lives of your children our brothers and Sisters around the world.
And we pray for Peace – that such tragedies may never be repeated, And we pray for Peace in our daily lives.
Bless us father, bless those we know and love- and those we ought to love – for we ask in the name of the Prince of Peace – our dear Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Loving with a genuine, heartfelt love. It’s what God calls to do.
But not everyone has grasped that…
Here’s a love letter which was written by a young girl to her ex boyfriend ~
No words could ever express the great unhappiness i have felt since breaking our engagement.
Please say that you’ll take me back.
No-one could ever take your place in my heart – so please forgive me.
I love you – I love you – I love you. xxxxxx
P.s. – and congratulations on winning the lottery !
Our love can be fickle can’t it ?
But God’s love does not change according to mood or whim – he loves us with all his heart………… And he loves us deeply.
And that’s the kind of love and care that he want’s us to share with the sad, the lonely and those who are struggling.
Aye – but will we?? I pray that we will.
Something for us to think about this week.
And in Jesus’ name.
May the God of Grace breathe
health into your body,
love into your heart,
peace into your mind,
and joy into your spirit.
so let us go now,
with our lives filled to overflowing, and be poured out in His service –
and may the Blessing of Almighty God – Father- Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you all – may He be with your families and friends and all who you know and love – and ought to love – this day and everyday.
Take care and May God Bless you
And those who you love.
Please be assured that my thoughts and my Prayers
will be with you this coming week..
Be sure and look out for the Midweek ‘Medication’ which is Posted every Wednesday Morning.
Can I remind those of you who aren’t too far away from Kilmacolm, that the Murray Chapel is currently opened for a time of personal Peace and Prayer, each day from Monday to Saturday from 11am – 1pm.
“Be still and know that I am God”
Psalm 46 : 10