July 18, 2019

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This months Website is 

sponsored by

Gregg & Deb Griewski 

in Memory of 

All who fought for freedom

 

If you would like to sponsor a month

contact the office.

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Happy 4th of July

Have a Happy & Safe 4th of July!

Last week's Sermon

July 7, 2019

  

 

2 Kings 5:1-14 & Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

“The gift conundrum”

There is an early episode of the Big Bang Theory in which Penny, Leonard and Sheldon’s across the hall neighbor informs the two that she has a Christmas gift for the two of them.  Sheldon is a brilliant physicist, but has limited social cues.  This, of course sets Sheldon off and he responds to Penny’s seemingly innocent and generous gesture by saying, “Oh, Penny. I know you think you're being generous, but the foundation of gift-giving is reciprocity. You haven't given me a gift; you've given me an obligation.”


Penny replies, “Now, honey, it's okay. You don't have to get me anything in return.” 


Sheldon responds, “Of course I do. The essence of the custom is that I now have to go out and purchase for you a gift of commensurate value and representing the same perceived level of friendship as that represented by the gift you've given me.” 


Frustrated Penny replies, “Okay, you know what? Forget it. I'm not giving you a present.”


To which Sheldon says, “No, it's too late. I see it. That elf sticker says to Sheldon. The die has been cast, the moving finger has writ, Hannibal has crossed the Alps.”


This whole gift giving/receiving thing, at times, is a social puzzle.  At times it can raise anxiety to both the giver and the receiver.  As a giver, we do not always know what is the appropriate gift for the occasion and as a receiver, we do not always know what is the appropriate response.  For many of us we are better givers than receivers.  For some, they might feel slighted if they do not feel the gift is adequate for the occasion.  But for most of us, we do not know how to graciously and humbly receive.  We do not feel worthy or we are embarrassed.  We even have a difficult time receiving compliments. 


In our Old Testament reading today we meet the commander of an army whose name is Naaman.  We learn right away that he is a very important and respected man by the king and his country as he has won many battles.  He is a great warrior …with a problem.  He has a skin disease …leprosy.  It is a disease that he just cannot get rid of.  Through his wife’s servant girl who is originally from Israel, Naaman learns of a prophet in Israel who could possibly cure him.  Naaman is granted permission by the king to go to this foreign land of Israel to seek medical assistance from the prophet Elisha.  The king even sends a letter with Naaman to reassure the king of Israel that Naaman is coming on peaceful terms.  When Naaman arrives in Israel Elisha sends out a messenger telling Naaman what he needs to do to be cured.  Wash seven times in the river Jordan. 


It would be an understatement to say that Naaman felt just a little slighted.  Now remember, Naaman is very important man.  He is a great warrior.  He has great wealth.  He is feared and respected at the same time.  And yet, this is how is to receive the gift of healing …from a messenger of a prophet in a foreign land who doesn’t have the courtesy to come out and see him, giving him instructions to wash seven times in an insignificant river in a foreign land.  It is an outrage.  Naaman would have went back home without the healing if it would not have been for another servant …his servant who convinced him to at least give it a try.  Naaman’s arrogance almost prevented him from receiving the gift of healing. 


Naaman tried to return the favor by offering to pay Elisha a great sum of money for the gift of healing.  Elisha refuses the gift.  God’s gift of healing cannot be bought. 


There are times that our own arrogance or our own egos can get in the way of receiving the gift of God’s healing grace.  We think that we can do it on our own.  We do not need God.  Sometimes we overlook the gifts that God is offering us because they seem so insignificant or unassuming.  The gift is too common or simple. 


Today we are offered the gift of God’s healing grace in two very simple common ways.  First, we are offered the gift of God’s healing grace through the sacrament of baptism.  But how can that be?  It is only water.  Even more than that, it is only tap water.  There is nothing special about this water.  It did not come from any great river or lake.  It is not holy water from God’s holy mountain.  It is everyday tap water that has been filter and cleaned after it came from the muddy Missouri.  We drink it and bathe in it every day.  And it is not very much.  It is not even enough to wash our hands.    How can a tiny bit of simple tap water be a gift of God’s healing grace? 


The second way in which we are offered the gift of God’s healing grace this morning is through sacrament of communion …or eucharist …or Last Supper …or Lord’s Supper, which ever you want to call it.  Again, how can that be?  It is only bread and grape juice.  They are such common and simple elements.  They are something we eat and drink almost every day.  Anyone can buy them at a store.  And it is such a small portion.  It is a little tiny cube of a piece of bread and a tiny cup of grape juice.  It is not enough to fill the tummy that is growling for more to satisfy its hunger.  How can a common, simple, tiny piece of bread and tiny cup of grace juice be a gift of God’s healing grace? 


To these questions God says, “Don’t over think it.  Just sit back and receive it.” 


We are not called to understand the mysterious ways of God or of God’s grace.  We are just called to place our faith in the power of God’s healing grace and allow God’s Holy Spirit to do the rest.  The gift of God’s healing grace is offered to anyone and everyone.  Its value is beyond anything we could possibly reciprocate.  We are simply called to receive it and to accept it with grateful and humble hearts, give God the praise, and share God’s healing grace with others.  Amen.