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Proper 23, Year C

Dear SarahLaughed.net community,

You all may have noticed that I've been posting very late in the week recently. This semester is pretty crazy; I'm a full-time student in seminary, who's trying at the same time to finish my Ph.D. dissertation, find a new diocesan home, and work at two jobs. But I've resolved to get back to posting earlier in the week, when new posts are most helpful to preachers, and I appreciate your hanging in there with me in the meantime. Please don't forget that, although I just switched to the Revised Common Lectionary this past Advent, I did blog the entire cycle of readings in the lectionary of The Episcopal Church in the Book of Common Prayer, and there's a great deal of overlap. If I haven't posted yet on a text for which you're looking for inspiration, you may find the 'search this site' box in the left-hand sidebar helpful. The easiest way to find comment on a particular passage is often to enter the full name of the biblical book and the number of the chapter for which you want comment in quotation marks -- e.g., "Luke 17" for this week.

But here's this week's post:

Luke 17:11-19 - link to NRSV text

In this week's gospel, Jesus heals ten lepers. Jesus instructs them to go to the Temple in Jerusalem, as the Law requires. Nine of them obey Jesus, and head off for Jerusalem. But one of the cleansed lepers disobeys Jesus, and instead returns to thank him.

As I pointed out the last time I blogged on this passage, coming back to thank Jesus would not have been seen as the most polite course of action the lepers could take, even if Jesus hadn't instructed them to go to the Temple. If that seems puzzling, it might help to imagine how you'd feel if you'd been out to dinner with a friend, and when the check came, you'd paid it, saying to your friend as he reached for his wallet, "Oh, don't worry about that -- you can get the next one if you'd like." The next day, your friend rings your doorbell with an envelope in his hand containing in cash half the amount of the previous night's dinner and a note saying thanks.

That would be slightly strange behavior, unless your friend thought you were very short on cash. Your "Oh, you can get the next one" comment is a way of declaring an ongoing friendship in which you share resources and cover for one another, but the cash in the envelope, as if it were necessary immediately to even the score, seems to carry a message from the other person saying "we don't have that kind of relationship" -- perhaps also saying something like "I don't really trust you not to hold this over my head" or "I don't expect to have dinner with you again, so I'd better settle any debts now."

The healed leper coming back to thank Jesus is a bit like that. The nine who did what Jesus told them to do were not only honoring the expressed wishes of their benefactor; they were also behaving as people would when they wanted and expected to continue the relationship while looking for opportunity to repay Jesus. The tenth leper, though, cannot obey Jesus' instructions. He is a Samaritan. Samaritans, weren't welcome in the Temple in Jerusalem, and had good reason to expect ill treatment from those who saw the Temple in Jerusalem as being the only true one (you can find some background on why that was so here).

What courage it must have taken for this man to call out to Jesus! The text points out that as they cried out, the whole group kept their distance, as they would have been expected to do as lepers. Even so, their trust in Jesus is clear from their crying out to him. Imagine the joy this group must have felt when they realized that they were cleansed, that their status as outsiders had ended!

Well, all but one of them. As the other nine headed off toward Jerusalem, the tenth realizes that even if he isn't a leper, he's still a Samaritan, set apart even from the nine people he was with when they were all lepers. As the others head off for the Temple, wondering what they can offer Jesus in return, the tenth returns, "praising God with a loud voice." And Jesus in turn praises the Samaritan -- not for giving thanks to him, but for giving praise to God.

As Samaritan and leper, the tenth person healed knew doubly well what it's like to be an outsider. And this is the person who saw and acknowledged God's hand in his healing, in Jesus' ministry.

Longtime readers of this bog may have gathered that one of the trends I've observed that grieves me most is the way in which those of us who are privileged seem increasingly to use our privilege to isolate ourselves from others we fear as not being "people like us." Crime and poverty go together, so we object when housing that's affordable to the poor (or even to less wealthy professionals such as teachers and police officers!) is proposed for our neighborhood. We build gated communities. We fuel "white flight" to the suburbs, even when that gives us long, miserable commutes. Even our churches are often structured to divide rich from poor; the wealthy are "members" who are welcomed warmly to participate fully in worship and leadership, while the poor are targets of "outreach ministry" that assumes those served have no spiritual gifts to offer the community except the chance to make us feel generous and to stay out of sight and preferably somewhere else the rest of the time.

We're missing out in a big way, though, when, by "things done and left undone," we exclude outsiders, when we don't listen deeply and look them in they eye. We're missing out on their spiritual gifts, their vision; we head off for a temple humming happily and we miss the chance to see God in human flesh before us.

But we have another choice. We can turn to face "outsiders" as neighbors, beloved children of God, sisters and brothers in Christ. We can turn to face Jesus, and when we do, we just might find ourselves crying out with Samaritans and outsiders everywhere, giving praise to God who in Christ is healing and reconciling the whole world.

Thanks be to God!

October 12, 2007 in Community, Faith, Healing, Inclusion, Luke, ONE campaign/Millennium Development Goals, Ordinary Time, Year C | Permalink

Comments

You know how much I like a new take. And the "Samaritan probably not welcome in the temple anyway" is a take I've never heard. Thanks for this. Sadly, I've already preached this passage!

Yeah, I'll need to do some thinking about this.

My take was, there is a level of healing that comes in giving thanks to God. That's what Jesus praises him for - giving thanks to God. So there are the good things that happen and they are certainly healing. They also come to everyone in the world, the just and the unjust. And then there is the spiritual healing that comes from the humility involved in not thinking you deserve it or not thinking you caused it.

thanks as always. Now that you're in the CC network, I'll be here every week.

Posted by: real live preacher | Oct 26, 2007 3:10:52 PM

thanks for another great post.

Posted by: paul at soupablog | Oct 28, 2007 11:37:20 PM

Dylan,

Many thanks for this post. Thems is great words! Love your blog.

Jason

Posted by: Jason Goroncy | Nov 1, 2007 6:40:56 PM

Dylan,
Just wondering-are you okay? You haven't posted a lectionary blog since this one, and I'm missing them.

Hope all is well-I know how crazy a semester can get, especially now as it runs inevitably to finals.
Connie Knapp

Posted by: Connie Knapp | Nov 15, 2007 8:54:07 PM

Sarah,

being a grad student myself, I understand. as my priest always says, may what you study be what is on the exam.

:o)

Posted by: Weiwen | Nov 18, 2007 8:45:39 AM

Trusting all is well your presnece in the blog is missed - praying all is well and all will be well

Posted by: Stephen | Nov 28, 2007 2:37:42 AM

Amen to that. One way or another, if religion is going to be more a force of unity than division and conflict in the world, it seems to me that people of every faith need to develop genuine respect and appreciation for those of other faiths.

It's just unrealistic to expect the rest of the world to convert to one's own belief system. If one faith or another is going to be proved "right" that will be at the end of time, and between now and then it would be nice to avoid the truly perverted phenomena of "religious" vitriol and violence.

Posted by: Paul Martin | Nov 28, 2007 11:23:55 AM

GOSPEL LETTER

Faith in God is believing that God is and is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Faith in God boils down to just one thing, will you trust Him in life’s greatest trials? Paul the Apostle was a prisoner on a ship, when a great storm arose. The ship was in great danger of sinking, but God spoke to Paul by an angel who told him that if they all stayed in the ship it would not sink, and they would all be saved.

What trust this took, how many of us would have tried some other way, maybe by swimming, or clinging to some piece of old wood. Paul’s words of faith and trust in God brought them all to safety, but the ship was lost. Dear Saints, when the wind blows and the storms of life crashes against you, hold on tight to God’s promises and rest in His peace, for He said, “ I am mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea”, {Psalm 93 v 4}. Jesus was in a boat in lake Galilee when a great storm arose, yes He was fast asleep, but His disciples were in great panic and distress.

How could Jesus sleep through such a storm? Because He totally trusted His Heavenly Father. In great panic His disciples shook Him and woke Him up, and said “don’t you care if we perish? ”Jesus replied,” “Where is your faith?” And He gave a command for the storm to cease. And if you put your total unwavering trust in Him, He will command that storm in your life to cease. So, trust your heavenly Father as Jesus did, and be at peace in the storms of life, for it is written, “ Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is staid on thee, trust ye in the Lord forever for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength”, {Isaiah 26 v 3& 4}.

www.evangelistbillybolitho.blogspot.com
EVANGELIST BILLY BOLITHO

Posted by: evangelist billy bolitho | Nov 30, 2007 2:59:31 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
Dylan's lectionary blog: Proper 23, Year C

« Proper 22, Year C | Main | I'm back! »

Proper 23, Year C

Dear SarahLaughed.net community,

You all may have noticed that I've been posting very late in the week recently. This semester is pretty crazy; I'm a full-time student in seminary, who's trying at the same time to finish my Ph.D. dissertation, find a new diocesan home, and work at two jobs. But I've resolved to get back to posting earlier in the week, when new posts are most helpful to preachers, and I appreciate your hanging in there with me in the meantime. Please don't forget that, although I just switched to the Revised Common Lectionary this past Advent, I did blog the entire cycle of readings in the lectionary of The Episcopal Church in the Book of Common Prayer, and there's a great deal of overlap. If I haven't posted yet on a text for which you're looking for inspiration, you may find the 'search this site' box in the left-hand sidebar helpful. The easiest way to find comment on a particular passage is often to enter the full name of the biblical book and the number of the chapter for which you want comment in quotation marks -- e.g., "Luke 17" for this week.

But here's this week's post:

Luke 17:11-19 - link to NRSV text

In this week's gospel, Jesus heals ten lepers. Jesus instructs them to go to the Temple in Jerusalem, as the Law requires. Nine of them obey Jesus, and head off for Jerusalem. But one of the cleansed lepers disobeys Jesus, and instead returns to thank him.

As I pointed out the last time I blogged on this passage, coming back to thank Jesus would not have been seen as the most polite course of action the lepers could take, even if Jesus hadn't instructed them to go to the Temple. If that seems puzzling, it might help to imagine how you'd feel if you'd been out to dinner with a friend, and when the check came, you'd paid it, saying to your friend as he reached for his wallet, "Oh, don't worry about that -- you can get the next one if you'd like." The next day, your friend rings your doorbell with an envelope in his hand containing in cash half the amount of the previous night's dinner and a note saying thanks.

That would be slightly strange behavior, unless your friend thought you were very short on cash. Your "Oh, you can get the next one" comment is a way of declaring an ongoing friendship in which you share resources and cover for one another, but the cash in the envelope, as if it were necessary immediately to even the score, seems to carry a message from the other person saying "we don't have that kind of relationship" -- perhaps also saying something like "I don't really trust you not to hold this over my head" or "I don't expect to have dinner with you again, so I'd better settle any debts now."

The healed leper coming back to thank Jesus is a bit like that. The nine who did what Jesus told them to do were not only honoring the expressed wishes of their benefactor; they were also behaving as people would when they wanted and expected to continue the relationship while looking for opportunity to repay Jesus. The tenth leper, though, cannot obey Jesus' instructions. He is a Samaritan. Samaritans, weren't welcome in the Temple in Jerusalem, and had good reason to expect ill treatment from those who saw the Temple in Jerusalem as being the only true one (you can find some background on why that was so here).

What courage it must have taken for this man to call out to Jesus! The text points out that as they cried out, the whole group kept their distance, as they would have been expected to do as lepers. Even so, their trust in Jesus is clear from their crying out to him. Imagine the joy this group must have felt when they realized that they were cleansed, that their status as outsiders had ended!

Well, all but one of them. As the other nine headed off toward Jerusalem, the tenth realizes that even if he isn't a leper, he's still a Samaritan, set apart even from the nine people he was with when they were all lepers. As the others head off for the Temple, wondering what they can offer Jesus in return, the tenth returns, "praising God with a loud voice." And Jesus in turn praises the Samaritan -- not for giving thanks to him, but for giving praise to God.

As Samaritan and leper, the tenth person healed knew doubly well what it's like to be an outsider. And this is the person who saw and acknowledged God's hand in his healing, in Jesus' ministry.

Longtime readers of this bog may have gathered that one of the trends I've observed that grieves me most is the way in which those of us who are privileged seem increasingly to use our privilege to isolate ourselves from others we fear as not being "people like us." Crime and poverty go together, so we object when housing that's affordable to the poor (or even to less wealthy professionals such as teachers and police officers!) is proposed for our neighborhood. We build gated communities. We fuel "white flight" to the suburbs, even when that gives us long, miserable commutes. Even our churches are often structured to divide rich from poor; the wealthy are "members" who are welcomed warmly to participate fully in worship and leadership, while the poor are targets of "outreach ministry" that assumes those served have no spiritual gifts to offer the community except the chance to make us feel generous and to stay out of sight and preferably somewhere else the rest of the time.

We're missing out in a big way, though, when, by "things done and left undone," we exclude outsiders, when we don't listen deeply and look them in they eye. We're missing out on their spiritual gifts, their vision; we head off for a temple humming happily and we miss the chance to see God in human flesh before us.

But we have another choice. We can turn to face "outsiders" as neighbors, beloved children of God, sisters and brothers in Christ. We can turn to face Jesus, and when we do, we just might find ourselves crying out with Samaritans and outsiders everywhere, giving praise to God who in Christ is healing and reconciling the whole world.

Thanks be to God!

October 12, 2007 in Community, Faith, Healing, Inclusion, Luke, ONE campaign/Millennium Development Goals, Ordinary Time, Year C | Permalink

Comments

The comments to this entry are closed.