Sermon Synopsis 2 Kings 5:1-14

Paul and Mary faithfully attended our church. That might surprise many who remember Mary… but not Paul. That is because Paul spent the worship hour in the car. He always walked Mary into church. He was well dressed (not that we pay a lot of attention to that here at SLPC) in dress pants and a blazer. I would greet him whenever I was in the south hallway when they arrived. He wore white gloves when I shook his hand. I would occasionally follow him out to his car and chat with him until I had to go back into church for the service. It was Mary who solved the mystery for me. Paul had a skin condition and some people were reluctant to be near him. He felt their discomfort and it caused him a degree of emotional pain that he sought to avoid. I would visit him at their home in the village but I could never convince him to change his pattern of worshiping from the car.

Many scholars suggest that the Old Testament word we translate as “leprosy” may not always refer to what we know today as Hansen’s disease. Our passage tells of a great man who may have had a similar skin condition as Paul’s. He was a military genius who had amassed great power and wealth. But he was a victim of what his society called an “unclean” disease. It separated him from his community but did not prevent him from accomplishing great things.

When Naaman came to Elisha’s gate he arrived with enormous wealth and power. Some have equated the gift he offered Elisha as worth almost a billion dollars in today’s currency. As the leader of a conquering nation’s military traveling into another country he would have been accompanied by a fearful amount of mounted troops and foot soldiers along with the resources to support such a force. It had to be an awesome scene as this multitude arrived at the prophet’s front gate and were met by… a single servant. Naaman was instructed to travel to the Jordan River and rinse himself seven times to be made clean. The bible says that Naaman was infuriated; that he expected something more elaborate. He has to be convinced by his subordinates to follow the prophet’s instructions… and he is healed.

Diane and I spent much the holiday weekend as we say in Michigan, “Up North”. We have a modest cottage overlooking a small lake not far from where I grew up. It is wonderful being in a place that you know the back roads. As we enjoyed cards with family and friends and the sounds and smells of a campfire I reminisced about the peacefulness of an earlier life.

Most of us are oblivious to the chains of technology that we attach to ourselves. We not only have mobile phones to keep us in reach but Apps that tell us about everything happening with our friends... and friends of friends. We "check in" to ingest politics and hospital stays and kittens (thank God for the kittens) and we multiply our anxieties at the cost of our tranquility.

I have sought out a response to this technological onslaught and after a great amount of internet searching I have discovered… our Smartphone’s come with an “off” button. As a matter of fact, after turning them off we can place them in a drawer in our desks and leave them at home! But we won’t… it’s too easy! We would rather moan about our lives and remained chained to the instrument that brings us much of its stresses. Like Naaman we cannot believe the answer is so simple.

Let me propose that this is the basic message of the Gospel. The word “gospel” means “good news.” It is so simple. God loves you just the way you are. And no matter how hard you try to live out a complicated faith model you will never earn God’s love. It is simply there for you to embrace. And even if you never do, God loves you anyway. Simple, isn’t it?!

Warmly,

Rev Dan