July 7, 2019 – 4 Pentecost C, Proper 9
2 Kings 5:1-14; Galatians 6:1-16; Luke 10: 1-11,16-20
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.
When I first arrived here at St. John’s there was a priest on staff some 30 years older than me who was serving as the interim curate. It didn’t take long for me to realize that we needed to hire him on a more permanent basis and he helped me welcome a few more priests before he eventually retired. Not all of you remember Jim Walter but his legend lives on despite his death 6 years ago. His sermons were, shall we say, unique. He was mischievous and rambunctious and his sermons were delivered from scratched out notes on the back on envelopes and such. He would pause rather dramatically in his sermons, not for effect, but so that he could turn the piece of scratch paper around so as to read some of his scrawling and jog his memory of what he would say next. He could move between statements that made very little sense and offering the profoundest of wisdom all in the very same sermon.
One Sunday the Old Testament story that we have before us today was in the propers and, at the 7:30 service, Jim referred to the remarkable healing of Naaman the leper by Jesus. In the vesting room after the service, I told Jim what a good sermon he had just given but reminded him that the healing of Naaman was an Old Testament story that took place hundreds of years before Jesus came on the scene and that it wasn’t Jesus who had healed Naaman. Jim’s reply was vintage, “Well, it sure sounds like somethin’ he would do.”
The profound truth that Jim Walter stumbled on that day is that all healing proceeds from Jesus as he is God incarnate, an eternal part of the godhead. At our healing service on Thursdays we read this prayer: “The Almighty Lord, who is a strong tower to all you put their trust in him, to whom all things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth bow and obey: Be now and evermore your defense, and make you know and feel that the only Name under heaven given for health and salvation is the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The power of Christ to heal is an eternal power, one that has continually flowed from God for all time and will always flow. The healing of Jesus is not limited to those who knew him in the flesh. The healing of Jesus is, has been, and will be.
In the past two weeks, in their sermons, Jamie and Deonna have offered us profound truths of this same eternal healing. Two weeks ago Jamie spoke of the healing of the man with so many demons that he referred to himself as Legion. You and I have not just one but many struggles and the more struggle we go through the more we find the healing of Christ in our lives. Last week Deonna spoke of Jesus ministering in the land of the Samaritans and moving on toward Jerusalem. In our spiritual walk, she reminded us, “sometimes we simply have to move on so God can get on with his work.”
Today in our gospel lesson we find Jesus sending out 70 people to prepare the way. “I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” Don’t carry a lot of baggage with you. Trust God to provide what you need each day. Do your best. Be faithful. If things don’t work out quite like you want them to, don’t take it so personally. Shake it off. Do the next right thing. And let God do his work. It’s not all up to you. Rejoice in your relationship with God because that is more important than your successes or failures along the way.
All too often we rise and fall with our circumstances. We’re so insecure about our grounding that we temporarily rise to the heights when things are going our way, then crash into the pit when things go awry. We seek that peace which passes understanding but we seek it through our own comfort or individual victories rather than the eternal healing grace that Christ Jesus brings into the world. Not everything in your world out there is going just right. Not everything in our world in here is going just right. But we are all seeking to be faithful. We want to set our sights on Christ instead of ourselves but we keep falling back into that sinful, selfish habit of seeking control.
What would it be like if you entered this day like a lamb being sent into the midst of wolves, knowing that the way is going to be hard and dangerous but also knowing that in our struggle we will see healing and salvation? What would it be like if you trusted more and controlled less? What would it be like if you lived more simply and didn’t try to carry around the solution to every problem you might face? What would it be like if you took success and failure less personally? What would it be like if you were simply faithful to the details of your life just the way it is instead of focusing on the way you think it should be? What would it be like if you rejoiced more in your relationship with God and worried less about what everybody else in the world needs to be doing? What would it be like if you let go of the idea that if you were doing things right you would always be peaceful and content and just enjoyed the times when you are and trusted that when you aren’t you’re still being loved? What would it be like…?
It would be like the kingdom of God.