Monday, April 21, 2008


This week's Scriptures are

Before I say anything else, I want to thank the Wonderful Wednesday Kids for the incredible job that they did dramatizing our scripture lesson on Sunday. Then, they sang with the adult choir and were a marvelous addition to their music....So THANK YOU Wonderful Wednesday are an important, valuable part of our church community. And thank you to all the adults who helped you get prepared in so many different ways.

This week's scriptures are about Jesus' encounter with persons who had leprosy. Because of their illness, the were forced out of their homes and made to live on the outskirts of the village or encampment (if it was a nomadic community). They had to wear torn clothing, let their hair hang in front of their face (looking down, they weren't allowed to look others in the eye) and cry out "unclean, unclean" as they moved through the streets. In some cultures they carried little bells that they rang as they walked to warn others that they were coming. Not only did they have to cope with the economic and medical issues caused by their illness; they had to endure the public shaming of their outcast status. This status could also be incurred by their families as well.

I think that these scriptures speak to us on three levels. The first is the social level. Where do we as Christians need to be reaching out to those who are alienated and outcast. Not just to those who are the 'flavor of the month' recepients of help (caring for others needs to be more than a fad); but the ones who are truly set adrift in our culture. From my work with sexual offenders, I think not only of them, but of their families. Remember how the outcast status of the leper could also be visited on their kin.

Second, I find that these passages challenge me to look at the list of people who, in my own heart of hearts, I have made 'lepers.' Who have I written off, written out, ostracized in my own mind and life. How might Jesus be calling me to deal with that part of my own living.

Third, if I flip this story a little bit, I need to look at the places in my life where I feel like a leper. All of us have them. Those places that make us ashamed to lift our head, the ones we're sure that if anyone else knew they'd turn away and go "oh yuck." Can we find in ourselves the courage this leper had to bring these things to Jesus and say, "if you want to, you can heal me."

A final thought that brings us full circle back to our Wonderful Wednesday Kids. These are wonderful children. We value them greatly-as we should. Can they help us not lose sight of the fact that the people we write off were once someone's beautiful child as well? I'm often reminded (in better moments) as I work with someone who had been battered by life into a state where they are difficult to deal with, much less to love, of the words to and old religious folk song about the "Tramp on the Street":

He was some mother's darlin'
He was some mother's son,
Once he was beautiful and once he was young.
Some mother rocked him, her little baby, to sleep;
But the left him to die, like a tramp on the street.

God still looks at all of us....lepers, outcasts, tramps on the street, upwardly mobile successful ones....all of us....with the eyes of a loving parent. Can we learn to look at the world though those eyes as well.

See you Sunday.

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