Healing Story of Resurrection and Nobel Laureate Al Gore
2007-10-12 by David von Schlichten
I find stimulating Nora Gallagher's idea of healing meaning being able to tell a new story, as well as her proposal that the healing of the tenth leper is a resurrection story. The tenth leper is no longer a pariah and has been set free to a new life, moreso than the other nine have been.
In his blog entry, Tom Steagald writes about the Jeremiah text, in which the exiles are called upon to establish lives for themselves as the people of God, even in Babylon. Much of what the exiles are to do is akin to traditional family practices, so their familial activities take on a spiritual significance.
What we have, then, is a kind of healing experience for the exiles, even though they do not yet receive the healing of being freed from exile. They have the healing of a new way of thinking, which is to embrace their ancient identity of being God's chosen people and living accordingly, even while prisoners in a foreign land. Their new story, their resurrection, is that they will keep being the people of God, despite being far away from Jerusalem and held captive by their enemies.
Another story of healing and resurrection is Al Gore's. This man who "lost" the 2000 election has continued to urge the world to embrace a new story, one that calls for climate change. As a result, he has won the Nobel Peace Prize, while the person who "won" the 2000 election is tied to a tragic war that has ousted an evil dictator but at a huge price and certainly not in a manner consistent with the one who heals lepers.
Finally, I want to respond to Rick Brand's understandable confusion about the fact that the other nine lepers, by going to the priest, are merely doing what Jesus (and the Law) told them to do. Therefore, we shouldn't be so hard on them.
Perhaps, Rick, the answer lies in the idea of what one should do first. The tenth leper may still go show himself to the priest, but FIRST he praises Jesus.
I'll post my sermon soon. It's been a week of pain, but healing glimmers like Venus in the scarlet sky.
Yours in Christ,
David von Schlichten, poedifier
2007-10-12 by Rick Brand
My mother always told me I could ruin any good story. My wife calls me too "damn logical." But the story in Luke about the ten lepers always has left me troubled. Jesus told them to go show themselves to the Priest. His command is to go to the Priest. "On the way" they were healed. The nine who continued on were doing what Jesus told them to do. We do not know if they would have come back to give thanks after the priest had seen them. The one who turned back disobeyed Jesus. He never went to the Priest. I get the point about how seldom we give thanks and recognize the source of our healings, but something in me keeps wanting to go slow in the condemnation of the others who did what Jesus told them.
2007-10-10 by Nora Gallagher
The story of the tenth leper is a resurrection story.
If we understand the resurrection of Jesus as the ultimate new story–that is, out of the chaos of death and execution, something new was written and revealed. And something new happened not only to Jesus but to his disciples. They went into hiding after the crucifixion. They were shattered and lost. But after the resurrection appearances, they walked back out into the world. They were braver and stronger; they visited strangers, and healed the sick. It was not just what they saw when they saw the resurrected Jesus, but what was set free in them.
What if the resurrection is not about the appearances of Jesus alone but also about what those appearances point to, what they ask of us? We can make the resurrection into a magic act, or use it as a profound stepping stone to new life.
When I look at this gospel story again, I see that the tenth leper understood that something had happened to him. He no longer “kept his distance.” He didn’t have to. He was no longer a pariah. He walked right up to Jesus and fell as his feet. He may have even covered Jesus’ feet with his newly healed hands, just like the woman who bathed Jesus with her tears.
He found a new story. I don’t think he completely abandoned the old one. I don’t think that finding a new story means we become someone entirely different. We are still the same person, with the same history. But now, what was unreadable, misunderstood, or chaotic, has a thread of meaning. That man, newly healed, did not go on living as a man on the margins or wander away like the other nine, seeking some sort of certification from the religious hierarchy. That man, turned back, to the person who had touched his poor skin, and he thanked him. It was not just what he saw when he saw Jesus, but what was set free in him. And that’s what makes this gospel a resurrection story.
It’s not only that he was healed. If it was only about that, then he would have gone off like the other nine. It was what was set free in him. Maybe it was something he already had: humility? Maybe. Or a little piece of gratitude. Or maybe it was generosity. It takes generosity to thank someone.
2007-10-10 by David Howell
There is lots going on at GoodPreacher.com!
We are blessed this week with stimulating blog posts by Nora Gallagher, David von Schlichten, and Tom Steagald. (Nora and Tom both have book reviews in Book Reviews in Share It!) Nora's books are available at Booksense or Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Check out the stimulating feedback on sermons at Sermon Feedback Cafe. They had to buy another coffee maker!
Susan Briehl just shared with us a Kenai Salmon Cake recipe at Divine Cuisine. It is really interesting to hear some of the stories behind the recipes. I received an email that Russell Pregeant's Shrimp and Okra Gumbo recipe was served at a monastery in New York last weekend.
Be sure to let Dee Dee Haines know what book you want to read. Go to Book Club (at Share It!) for Dee Dee's email. She will count the votes on Friday and let us know which book to start reading.
And be sure to share your stories, book reviews, and movie reviews at Share It!
For those who have not yet subscribed to GoodPreacher.com, there is a world of resources available to you in Journal, Back Issues/Sermons and Unlectionary. 40-60 articles per week on lectionary texts, plus sermons that will stimulate your sermon preparation for special occasions.
Remember to register for Festival of Homiletics. We are having record registraton.
Vocation and Family
2007-10-09 by Tom Steagald
I am struck in the Jeremiah text for Proper 23 that the "practices" Jeremiah announces as God's word for the reframing of the Exile experience are what might be considered traditional (in the sense of historic) family values: building houses, planting gardens, wedding spouses, having children, celebrating the generations, praying for the city in which one resides. The depression and anger attending deportation might cause the exiles to react differently--might prompt the atomizing of life and culture. But if the bad news is that Exile has separated the remaining Jerusalemites from their foundations, it has not cut them off from their essential roots of being a holy people, multiplying and fruitful, recipients of blessing in the hope of once again being the channels of blessing.
This word is vital to me right now in my place of service. Many of our new believers (though some of them are "believers again") are struggling with the energy church requires, the (oft-times self-imposed) challenges of small group meetings, work areas, services, etc. They want to be a part of it all, but it is dividing husbands and wives, parents and children, if only in terms of time and place (though the stress seems to go deeper among some). This text reminds me that "family" can be an essentially spiritual reality, the locus of spiritual development and transformation. As Luther said, famously, the family is but the smallest of congregations.
Many preachers, while eager to preach on the corporate nature and communal dimensions of the gospel, can for various reasons overlook the family as one aspect of those realities. Perhaps Jesus' own ambivalence toward his mother and siblings is the theological excuse for our inattention. Or perhaps the recent political manipulations of "traditional family values" has been (rightly) pegged as a form of judgemental nostalgia and summarily dismissed as another apt candidate of the gospel's formational and political ambitions.
But Jeremiah seems to say that the family is a place where God will work to maintain the identity and survival of the elect in the midst of a pagan culture. Indeed, this is where God has put them--another reframing of the Exile, not as godforsakenness but, emergently, as the place where God and God's people may enjoy new intimacy and the reforming of covenant.
And so the historic tasks of families become themselves spiritual practices; this word of the Lord becomes a summons, answering in obedience a spiritual vocation as sacred as any other.
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