Readings for 6th Sunday after the Epiphany, 2/12/12: 2 Kings 5:1-14, Psalm 30, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Mark 1:40-45
2 Kings 5:1-14
Naaman wants the benefits of a connection with God - he wants God's healing, and wants it from Elisha now. But he doesn't want to do what is required to get what he wants. Are we like that? Do we connect what we want from our relationship with God with what we give to our relationship with God? Of course, God blesses us in spite of ourselves, as God heals Naaman, but what could we do to make it easier?
Also, Naaman wants to see magic done, not healing, in his life. He wants a quick fix - to be better. He doesn't want to go through the healing/wholeness process - it's timely, it takes effort. I feel that we are the same with our own health sometimes - we want to be thin and perfect - just don't ask us to change our lifestyles to see the results! We want to be cancer free. But don't make us quit smoking! On a deeper note, we want to end hunger - we'll give a can at Thanksgiving time. Don't ask us to change consumer patterns to have sustainable living!
Process vs. Product - which is more important? Naaman says product. God says process!
"Wash and be clean." Why is grace, repentance, forgiveness, so hard for us? Why do we make it so difficult for ourselves? Why is it hard to admit our wrongs and try again?
This psalm appears three times in the lectionary cycle - not sure why it makes it in the lectionary so much, since it's not, in my mind, particularly moving/deep, in comparison with some others... Hm.
Eesh - not a favorite psalm. All these images of God are terrible - pleading with God to care and act, trying to convince God to act by appealing to God's desire to have more people to worship God (v. 9). Not a very flattering picture of God. But I guess it's more about where the psalmist comes from than about who God really is...
"Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning." The youth of my CCYM love the praise song "Trading My Sorrows", which takes this verse as a line of the song. These words comfort and give hope - but how do we speak to those who feel like this morning of joy never really comes?
"You hid your face." - Ugh - to think of God turning God's face from us. Devastating - like an eclipse?
1 Corinthians 9:24-27:
Compare this passage with Paul's similar "prize" sentiments in Philippians 3:12-16 and 2 Timothy 4:6-8. Paul seems to like and be personally motivated by thoughts of life as race, a prize at the end - the crown of righteousness.
In this particular passage, Paul's race metaphors talk specifically about the discipline required to race with the goal of winning. But instead of physical discipline, Paul speaks a spiritual discipline with an aggressive (if not somewhat self-loathing) edge.
What goal have you achieved through careful discipline? I have enjoyed running - my maximum comfortable distance was 4 miles at a time. But working up to the distance of 4 miles was certainly much harder and more painful then running the 4 miles when I got to that point in my training.
2 Kings 5:1-14
I love this passage. A leper approaches Jesus and boldly says, "if you choose . . ." And Jesus responds, "I do choose." Jesus chooses to act in our lives.
"moved with pity" This phrase is from one of my favorite Greek words, splanchnistheis, which literally has a sense of one's insides or womb or innards turning over. Physically moved with pity.
"show yourself to the priest" - this would be the way to 'officially' be termed clean again by the community.
"but he went out and began to proclaim it freely." And no wonder! But when was the last time you couldn't be kept from telling people what God was doing in your life?
"and people came to him from every quarter." - a theme so far in Mark - the constant and overwhelming need/demand of the people for Jesus and his message.