Don’t Samaritan Lives Matter?

Luke 17:11-19 – The 21st Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, October 9, 2016

“No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:18)

ten-lepersFirst it was ten men in Luke 17:11-19

Then, as Luke continued the account of this healing, the reader’s informed that the ten men had skin diseases. “Skin diseases” is how the Common English Bible translates leproi from the New Testament Greek. Other translations use leper or leprosy. We now know anyone with a “skin disease” could be labeled as a leper during Biblical times. Regardless of accuracy, they were considered unclean; to be avoided, scorned, and isolated. Their outward appearance served as an obvious clue to their inner sins.

Next in the passage, after instructions from Jesus, and after departing to become clean—healed and acceptable to society—one of the ten returned. He was a Samaritan.

How could Jesus do that!

Why would Jesus do that?

Those two phrases would likely describe the first century listener’s reaction to this tale when one of the healed men is revealed as . . .

The enemy.

The hated.

The other. Continue reading →

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The Invitation

Luke 13:10-17 – The 14th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, August 21, 2016

 The synagogue leader, incensed that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, responded . . .” (Luke 13:14)

man_aloneThe synagogue leader remained, still reeling from the unexpected confrontation. The words he’d challenged the Nazarene with kept repeating inside his mind, as if a giant muscled an anvil back and forth, slinging it against the sides of his head:

There are six days during which work is permitted. Come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath day!

He could’ve done better than those sentences. He was, after all, the leader . . . their leader. The one the congregation trusted. The one people looked to for an example. Wasn’t he the one who knew the laws, the scripture, and the difference between right and wrong?

He should’ve kept it simple and ordered the interloper to leave!

Get out of my synagogue. Now!

He should’ve shamed Jesus. Reminded him who really knew the law!

You dishonor God and the Sabbath and all of the laws of Moses and do not deserve to be called one among the Chosen! You are not a teacher, but a charlatan and a disappointment!

He should’ve reminded him who was superior! This wasn’t Jesus’ home, and no one had invited him to be here! Continue reading →

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The Seventh Time

2 Kings 5:1-14 – The 7th Sunday after Pentecost – for July 3, 2016

Elisha sent out a messenger who said, “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored and become clean.” (2 King 5:10)

The River Jordan
The River Jordan . . .

Elisha, inheritor of Elijah’s prophetic mantel, God’s miracle-worker and sage, lived in an odd era compared to our modern days.

It was a time of kings and the conquered.

Of wars and warriors.

Of famine and futility.

Of hatred and hubris.

Of borders and battles.

Of slaves taken and servants mistreated.

Of gods and God.

The powerful ruled the powerless; the rich became richer; generals forged decisions with the spilled blood of the young; orphans and widows increased in number; the poor became poorer; the 99% scraped by and the 1% schemed for more wealth.

Not like our time at all.

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In the time of Kings, in the tales of Elisha, there came a warrior named Naaman. He was a general for Aram, from the land to the east.

Diseased Naaman was.

Shamed Naaman was.

He would give away gold and slaves and probably some of his wives (and even his children) if only he could rid his body of the illness. Continue reading →

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