the view from the pew 10-8-16

Kids, kids, kids! Pres-schoolers and ‘gartners filled the sanctuary with their parents to sing for service. The children sang “Child of God”, “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” and “We Love Because God First Loved Us”. Donna played a more-than-able piano while the children sang to God. As always, Lutheran kids never sing without hand gestures. You can be sure that nearly all girls love singing and signing major lyrics. Boys either get with the program or they stand, stare and mouth the words. Of course you want boys to sing along but they are busy looking for an escape route. Trust me on that.

The grownup hymns were “Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing”, “Where Charity and Love Prevail”, “Let Us Ever Walk With Jesus”, and the classic, “Amazing Grace” (the communion distribution song). How great a song is “Amazing Grace”? Hmm, let’s see … OK, try this: You actually have to make an effort to mess this song up. The tune is as hummable as the sports hit “Air Ball” and the words just roll off the tongue much like The Foundations’ “Build Me Up, Buttercup”. These are three of at least a dozen songs pre-downloaded into your essence at the moment of conception. Don’t ask me why. It could be these are His favorites and just wants us to hum them while we’re puttering around the house putting laundry away or cleaning out the garage.

Luke 17:11-19
Jesus Heals Ten Men With Leprosy

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

If you ever feel intimidated reading the Bible, there is no need to. God had His hand in writing it as He directed and inspired the several writers to put down what He wanted said. You can be an infant in the faith and read today’s Gospel and understand that Jesus does wonderful things for people. You can gather that some people receive His grace but may forget to give thanks for it. Though Jesus appreciated being thanked by the Samaritan, He didn’t hold it against the other nine for doing as He said – going to the priest and being healed along the way. Jesus does good for us more than we can ever think to thank Him for. But thank Him anyway, He loves to hear your voice, inner or outer. BTW, there’s no need to introduce yourself. He knows you. And He also knows that it’s been a long time. Just tell Him what your issue is, even though He knows what it is. It’s more for you than for Him.

As you attend church on a more regular basis, even if to make your wife happy, you can learn a lot by just putting your smartphone away and listening to your pastor. Odds are it’s the mother who makes the decision to start going to church but it is a fact that the family in whole will likely attend when the father leads the way to church.

Things you might not know about the culture in Jesus’ day:

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.” – This was declared ‘no man’s land’ back in the day by Jewish leaders because both Samaritans and lepers lived in that area. If a Jew strayed into this section they’d be declared ‘unclean’ and then denied access to the temple until deemed ‘clean’ by a priest. Why does Jesus go there? Because it’s His property. Because these are His people. Because all people are His people, whether they like it or not.

As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” – Every leper, by law, had to call out ‘unclean!’ to anyone who came near them. If they did not they were subject to death by stoning. These lepers, instead, cry out for mercy from Jesus. Why do they break the law and ask Jesus for help? It could be that one of them has heard Jesus speak or a non-leper told them about Jesus (from a distance, of course). I think it’s possible that when anyone as low on the totem pole as these people were sees the Son of God, His essence shows so strongly that it fills the God-shaped holes in their souls. If you ever watch movies like Ben Hur or The Passion of The Christ, the meek and mild tend to stare at Jesus like slack-jawed yokels, knowing someone great is before them.

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.” – The likely response of these ten lepers was to talk or argue among themselves about what Jesus said. The prevailing attitude probably was, “Huh? That’s it?” After more dickering, one of them said, “OK, let’s just do what He said.” The moment they started on their way to the priest only then were they healed. What did they learn? Unless you’ve got a better idea, and you don’t, just do what Jesus says.

Just an FYI here. In the entire Bible only these lepers, one other in the Gospels and Naaman the general were ever cured of leprosy. Naaman himself was offered a cure so simple he scoffed at it until his servant made him see the light.

What astonishing thing did the servant say? Read 2 Kings 5 and find out!

If you ever wonder if Jesus has a sense of humor as well as a loving heart, this scripture proves both. He heals the lepers and then leaves it to ‘all-knowing’ priests to come up with a pronouncement of cleanliness of a situation they’ve never encountered. What do they say to a healed leper? Is it in the Torah? I suspect there were a lot of scrolls unrolled that day … and night … and well into the next day.

And one last thing. Jesus held the pharisees, sadducees and other leaders to a higher level of responsibility. They knew better than the populace what the Law said and, if not for their hardened hearts, should have interpreted scripture as a way to ease the yokes of the people not burden them with long ‘to do’ lists that couldn’t be followed. Jesus spoke starkly to them and did speak of condemnation but not to judge them but to alert them that their actions would eventually lead them to doom. When your child rides his bike into the street in front of cars you yell at him for his safety because you love him. Same here. Jesus warns them sternly. Nicodemus was one of the pharisees who thought he knew better but later came to Jesus and was accepted by Him no differently than the lepers. So please don’t pray for your enemy’s demise or say it is God’s will that this group or another deserves annihilation. Pray that they come to Christ and are saved. Any destruction is left to Him who created them.

(yes, this is different than defending your family, neighbors and nation from evil)

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