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Followers

Tuesday, October 09, 2007
As Jesus’ followers, we present ourselves to God and open ourselves to God’s presence with us. We encounter God’s grace and healing amid all the circumstances of our lives. As the passages for this Sunday reveal, this encounter may come in unexpected ways. We, in turn, are called to respond richly – in our relationship to God and our relationship with others. Luke 17:11–19 This story features a Samaritan, and takes place in the borderlands between Samaria and Galilee. In Jesus’ day, Samaritans honoured the holy traditions in the Hebrew Scriptures. They were descendants of those who lived in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, but centred their faith in Mount Gerizim rather than Jerusalem. There was a mutual and long-standing resentment between Samaritans and the Jews, whose faith was centred in Jerusalem. In one sense, Samaritans were part of Judaism in that they revered the scriptures. In another sense, however, they were outside of Judaism that was defined as the community of allegiance to Jerusalem and its authorities. As the story opens, Jesus encounters ten individuals who have leprosy. In keeping with the Law, Jesus sends them to the priest to be declared clean and whole, an action necessary for them to be accepted again into the life of the community (Leviticus 14:23). On the way, they are healed. One, a Samaritan, turns back, praising God and returning to Jesus to give thanks for the healing. Jesus affirms the faithfulness of this healed one, and declares him clean and whole. This is more than a story about being polite; it speaks of the power of encounter with God – source of all life and wholeness. It is interesting to note the way this passage from Luke is translated in the New International Version Bible. Instead of referring to the ten as “lepers” in verse 12, the reference is to ten “who had leprosy.” The gospel of Luke emphasizes seeing or recognizing. This translation asks the reader to not define these individuals by their disease, instead recognizing the full humanity of all people, even (or perhaps especially) those on the margins of society or placed outside the community. Luke invites us to consider one another as God does. A picture of God’s mercy is painted by the prophet in Jeremiah 29:1, 4–7. God’s people are given a vision of hope in the midst of exile in Babylon: they will plant and live fruitfully in the foreign land, and God will be present to guide them. They are instructed to seek the welfare of the city, thereby securing their own welfare. God seeks the welfare of humankind, no matter the circumstances. This message is echoed in Psalm 66:1–12. God will “not let our feet slip.” What could possibly discourage the faithful from praising God’s constant presence? Keep ever in mind the nature of the God we follow. This is the message of 2 Timothy 2:8–15. Jesus’ followers can weather any challenge, even those posed by false teachers, when they hold fast to the truth of the gospel as they have received it. Like one who is healed, Christians are blessed to return again and again to God, the true source of grace and mercy. We rejoice in the gifts of healing and wholeness that we receive daily from God’s hand. Though our offering of praise and thanksgiving may not always flow freely, such a response shapes our discipleship. In what ways does faith heal and sustain you? How do you and your faith community return thanks for such grace?

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Kairos-Milwaukie UCC Blog

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary by Rev. Rick Skidmore and Rev. Jim Ogden.

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