Faithlife Sermons

Sunday, July 07, 2019 - 9 AM

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No Fashion Sense – 2 Kings 5:1-14 Bascomb UMC / July 7, 2019 / 9AM & 11AM Focus: The important characters in the narrative: God working through the “little guys” – a slave girl and the servants of Naaman. Function: To encourage all believers to keep to the “small, ordinary” work of service and sacrifice for the sake of others – after the likeness of Jesus. 5 Purpose Outcomes of the Church: Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Evangelism, Service Dramatic Reading of 2 Kings 5:1-14 Narrator: Naaman, a general for the king of Aram, was a great man and highly regarded by his master, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. This man was a mighty warrior, but he had a skin disease. Narrator: Now Aramean raiding parties had gone out and captured a young girl from the land of Israel. She served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress....... Captured Young Girl: “I wish that my master could come before the prophet who lives in Samaria. He would cure him of his skin disease.” Narrator: So Naaman went and told his master what the young girl from the land of Israel had said. Then Aram’s king said.... Aram’s king: Go ahead. I will send a letter to Israel’s king.” Narrator: So Naaman left. He took along ten kikkars of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. Narrator: He brought the letter to Israel’s king. It read.... Aram’s king: “Along with this letter I’m sending you my servant Naaman so you can cure him of his skin disease.” Narrator: When the king of Israel read the letter, he ripped his clothes. He said.... The King of Israel: “What? Am I God to hand out death and life? But this king writes me, asking me to cure someone of his skin disease! You must realize that he wants to start a fight with me.” Narrator: When Elisha the man of God heard that Israel’s king had ripped his clothes, he sent word to the king: Elisha: “Why did you rip your clothes? Let the man come to me. Then he’ll know that there’s a prophet in Israel.” Narrator: Naaman arrived with his horses and chariots. He stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent out a messenger who said.... Messenger: “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored and become clean.” Narrator: But Naaman went away in anger. He said.... Naaman: “I thought for sure that he’d come out, stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the bad spot, and cure the skin disease. Aren’t the rivers in Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all Israel’s waters? Couldn’t I wash in them and get clean?” Narrator: So he turned away and proceeded to leave in anger. Naaman’s servants came up to him and spoke to him: Naaman’s servant: “Our father, if the prophet had told you to do something difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? All he said to you was, ‘Wash and become clean.’ ” Narrator: So Naaman went down and bathed in the Jordan seven times, just as the man of God had said. His skin was restored like that of a young boy, and he became clean. The Word of God for the People of God…………. Children’s Time: The entire experience was started by one little slave girl who decided to be a blessing, even to the people who had oppressed her, rather than curse her situation. God didn’t cause her troubles, people did that, but look how God used her act of kindness to start a wonderful glory to the God who created her. Sermon: I entitled this sermon “No Fashion Sense” because today’s text mentions clothing several times. Naaman took ten changes of clothing on his trip to see Elisha and the king of Israel ripped his clothes in distress because he misunderstood the situation. It made me think of the phrase “no fashion sense.” You know, those people who wear the same style every decade or wear stripes with plaids. Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs both had a monotonous wardrobe just to reduce the decisions they had to make each day. But not Naaman! It seemed Naaman cared about fashion more than he would like to admit – TEN changes of clothing involved seeing kings and being part of the royal court, diplomatic missions under an uneasy peace. Then we see the king of Israel tearing his clothes as a sign of grief, loss, or distress. These had to be pretty nice clothes! The kings are truly the clueless ones in this story – one king asking another king to heal Naaman, that’s was a complete misunderstanding of Naaman’s quest to be healed! Kings can’t heal you can they? Doctor’s don’t really heal, they just assist your body and we can all testify that God is the only one with the power to heal! So one king requests another king to heal this military captain and Israel’s king thinks it’s a pre-text for WAR. The entire point of all this detail in today’s scripture is to expose the failings of those who think they are powerful – they are not, really. Jesus said the rich man is building great storage buildings for all his stuff and that very night his soul is required of him. Great kings mistakenly demand healings from lesser kings who then misunderstand and expect conflict as a result! Great military men command armies, but they not only lack fashion sense, they lack common sense, and, according to scripture, they lack Holy Spirit sense. Anybody relating to this? The Old Testament classified a wide variety of skin diseases under the heading of leprosy. Naaman’s was one of the more minor types. It was not contagious, he wasn’t barred from social occasions but it WAS an incurable disease. In Luke 4, we hear Jesus remind his hometown of Nazareth about the healing of Naaman. It was a model for his own ministry. Those in Jesus’ hometown expect Jesus to bless THEM – not foreign invaders they get angry when Jesus says the grace of God will be extended to outsiders who don’t deserve God’s blessings like they deserve it. You think those who follow Jesus must also follow this mission, as his predecessors Elijah and Elisha had done? Do we misunderstand how God’s providence operates? God is NOT controlling the details of our lives. We are free to choose. It’s best to see God cooperating with us and guiding us (if we are willing). Then difficulties in our life won’t shatter our ability to trust God. “Stuff happens” in this fallen world and God’s providence expects humility, cooperation, and a focus on others rather than ourselves. We should keep serving others, keep loving others and think of their needs, regardless of what external pressures we encounter. God’s assistance in the pressures we face are found in the sacraments: baptism to establish our faith: Paul said in Galatians that “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” And Communion to nurture our faith. Both and are visible signs pointing to God’s invisible grace. Sacraments can reinforce a better understanding of God’s providence working in the midst of our trouble. Let’s avoid the king’s error of blaming any bad event we experience as some act of God’s anger or judgement (it was in the Cherokee Ledger just this week! A woman was quoted in response to some horrific events in her life that she felt as if “God was angry with her”). Let us also avoid Naaman’s pride - his 10 changes of clothing, his entitled attitude toward God’s prophet because of his status and his nation’s superiority over Israel. That won’t get you healed Naaman! I know fashion is often ridiculed as a frivolous and vain. As soon as Adam & Eve got clothes, they invented pockets and, well, pockets need stuff to go in them. Maybe that was the great fall of humanity. But now God allows that we fallen humans must wear clothes. God was the first fashion designer changing fig leaves to the first leather outfits. “Fashion” is a noun, calling to mind Paris runways, and the fashion industry gets a little crazy at times…(comment on the next series of slides). But “fashion” is also a verb. It means “to mold or to shape.” We fashion dough into the shape of a bread loaf; we fashion clay into a pot or a bowl. Indeed, the word “fashion” meant to make or shape something before it became a noun designating clothing. And “fashion” came to be THE word that meant… clothing shapes us. Fashion goes to our core identity. What we wear and how we wear it CAN say something about how we see ourselves. We go to great lengths to appear to be something we are not – to look richer and smarter than we are. We are masters of deceit and disguise. So, when we do stumble onto something that is simple, we, like Naaman, are likely to dismiss it as ridiculous. But Christianity is simple. God loves us. God sent his Son to us. God’s saving grace in Jesus through the Holy Spirit is sufficient. Yes, there are complex problems in the world, and we seek a quick fix and simple answers is naive. But it is just as foolish to seek complex answers when simple ones will suffice. When we think we are someone special, or that our circumstances are unique, or that we are better than other people, entitled to special treatment, we will almost certainly overlook the remedy when it is simple and ordinary. There are three turning points in this healing story. Not Naaman, the mighty warrior, not the prophet, Elisha, not these kings of Syria and Israel, NO. The first turning point in the story is the simple witnessing of a captured Israelite slave girl. God can use US to work wonders, even the tragic events of this enslaved Israelite girl IF we are willing to let God use our lowest moments. The second turning point are Naaman’s own servants. He wasn’t even going to try the simple remedy that was offered, but they saved the day! The final turning point was Naaman humbled. When he decided to accept what only God can offer. He did what the prophet of God suggested, and he was made clean. Always accept what God offers. Always do what God suggests. Is nothing is as simple as it seems? It is with God! Trust in God. It sounds too simple? Still, trust in God and give over everything in your life for God to use – especially our failures and our troubles – let God use them to make blessings fall into place – blessings that are probably intended for someone else. Could you do that even at your own expense? Sounds like the way of Jesus to me. Follow closely this prayer: “The Power of the Ordinary.” The perfect word spoken at just the right moment, a simple smile or a gentle touch, a thoughtful gift, an offered hand, these are ordinary things, in which, O God, you seem to delight. There is a power in a life lived with quiet discipline in a commitment to the hope of God’s reign, in the endurance of struggle with faithful trust; and in all of these ordinary things, O God, you are present and working, and through them YOUR life, YOUR will, and YOUR way flows into the world. And so, we praise you, God, for the power of the ordinary, and for the transformation it brings. Use us – let us be a blessing – even to those who do us wrong! And now let us pray this prayer of confession together: Prayer of Confession (2 Kings 5, Psalm 30) O God of people and nations, we are ignorant and arrogant about our own prosperity and might. When we forget how much we have, remind us of our abundance. When we take pride in our status and think ourselves better than others, grant us humility. When we use wealth and power to get our own way at the expense of others, correct us. Heal us, we pray, that we may be a force for wholeness. With all that we have, we pray for your forgiveness. Amen. Words of Assurance (Psalm 30) God’s anger lasts but a moment, but God’s favor lasts a lifetime. Weeping may last the night, but joy comes in the morning. God takes off our sackcloth and clothes us with joy. Let us rejoice! We are forgiven! Consecration of the Elements It was at a table like this that Jesus shared His last meal with His followers. We lift the bread as He did. We break it as He did. And we share it remembering His words: "My body is broken for you. Eat and remember me." We also lift the cup as He did. And we share it remembering His words: "My blood flows for you. Drink and remember me". Here and now we are ONE in this memory and this meal. Dare we think that WE could offer ourselves the way Jesus did for us? One loaf, one cup, one Lord laying down His life for us. Invitation to Holy Communion YES, it is not for us alone that this sacrifice was made . . .God's love for the world is so strong that He gave His only Son. Whoever believes may enter His life. This meal reminds us of the world God loves. And so, at God’s Word, we share our lives with all people, so that all people may share in the Kingdom of God. Amen and Amen. Service of Holy Communion Sending Forth – Benediction: Naaman is converted! Yayyyyy “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” —Colossians 3:12 & 14 (NRSV).
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