Trinity 6/Proper 9 – 3/7/16

 2 Kings 5: 1 -14 Galatians 6: 1 – 16 Luke 10: 1 – 20

Following the EU referendum our country has been in political and social turmoil. Some people seem to think they are now free to be racist. Some people are realising that we cannot be selfishly nationalistic and they may have been deceived and voted the wrong way.

I would like us to look at our readings for today for some pointers. First the treatment of what some may call "foreigners".

Earlier in Galatians Paul wrote 3.26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

The most important thing is that we are members of God's world-wide church family. We have brothers and sisters in Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit. Everything else is secondary and should not divide. God has created everyone differently. Some are obvious, others less so. Where we are born, the colour of our skin, our sex, our age, the language we speak, does not add to, or detract from, our worth.

Secondly, everyone has something to contribute. Even the most ardent Leave campaigners do not deny this! We read of this in the Old Testament reading. 2 Kings 5.3 tells us the slave girl was able to help her mistress's husband to be cured of leprosy. She was a foreigner, young, female and a slave. Four labels that would have counted against her in that culture. But God was able to use her.

She was following the principle in Galatians 6.1-2 which speaks of people helping one another, carrying their burdens and so fulfilling the law of Christ, of loving one's neighbour. In Galatians it is referring to gently bringing back a person who is sinning but there are other ways we can and should help others, too. This is not to say that someone is not responsible for their own actions. Verse 5 tells us, "for each one should carry their own load."

This idea of unity and working together for the common good, rather than nationalistic selfishness and isolation, can be observed in our Old Testament reading.

Naaman was powerful, poular, rich, successful. Yet he had a skin disease, the Hebrew word translates "leprosy" could refer to several skin complaints. He came to a foreign King for a cure. He was referred to a foreign prophet, who worshipped a foreign God, and ordered Naaman to wash himself in a foreign river. This went against what Naaman expected. His nationalism led him to angrily reject his cure, proudly boasting that his homeland had some mavellous waterways that surpassed the Jordan.

After receiving advice from his servants he, probably very reluctantly, went to the Jordan, obeyed, was immediately healed, and praised the one, true, God.

Nationalistic pride is for fools, ask any England football fan!

I believe that, during the Referendum there was, for some, an underlying thought that because we are British we are better than other countries and entitled to receive more, whilst also being ignorant of many of the benefits of Europe. Now some are realising that we may not be in the strong position we thought we were and the prospect of access to a free market, having more money to spend and retaining control of our borders are slim.

Naaman had to swallow his pride for his own benefit. Politicans and people have to be prepared to concede that they made mistakes, to be humble, to take responsibility for their sin. We will need to be in this together, whatever our differences. Our nationality, colour, language, sex, age, or where we put the cross on our ballot paper.

As God's people we can have confidence. Not in politicians. Not in our nation. Not in ourselves. But in Him. God is in control.

Naaman discovered this and said "Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel" v.15.

The Galatians were reminded of this 6.9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. "

The 72 followers of Jesus came back, knowing He was in control. Luke 10. 17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ 18 He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’

I suggest we should respond by

    1. rejecting racism, pride and nationalism

    2. working for unity and co-operation

    3. living by faith, knowing God is in control

    4.  praying for leaders 1 Tim. 2. 2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.