A sermon for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, October 13, 2019, which included the Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant. The scriptures are 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c, Psalm 111, 2 Timothy 2:8-15, and Luke 17:11-19.
Listen to the sermon HERE.
There’s an old story about a man who goes rents a summer house in a beautiful valley. From the first day of his time there, he notices one house all the way across the valley, so far that he can barely make it out. But in the late afternoon, he can see it because it has golden windows. The house he’s in is not so bad. It’s small and somewhat simple, sure, but it’s nice. And yet, he looks across, and there’s a house so that much be so special, so amazing. He begins to imagine what IT must be like—its rooms, the materials that make it up, it probably has a HUGE kitchen. And so, and after weeks, the man decides to try to hike across the valley and visit this golden-windowed house. He takes provisions, knowing that it will take him a few days to hike the journey. Off he goes, all the time, noticing that there’s a growing excitement inside him—who would live in a house with golden windows? Is it someone famous? Are they going to be friends? Is this the beginning of a new, amazing adventure? Over the several nights that he’s camping and hiking, he can barely sleep for the curiosity of wondering what he’s find.
Finally, he close. He sees a trail and eventually a driveway. He makes his way up to what seems like a house in the right spot, but not THE house. This must be the groundskeeper’s house, or some out building, but surely the person here will have information on the golden-windowed house. And so he knocks on the door. A older woman opens the door, and he explains that he’s looking for the house with the golden windows. “Is it close by?” he asks. The women looks at him with a surprised look and says, “Why, no. Actually, the house with the golden windows is way over there, across the valley, but it’s so far away that you can only really see it in the morning.” She points in the direction from which the man has come, and says, “There’s the house with the golden windows.”
How often do we miss the blessing that is right in front of us, the common, wonderful, gift-of-God right where we are?
In the first scripture reading, Naaman, the tough, smart military commander has a problem: he has leprosy. A young girl mentions to Naaman’s wife that there’s a great prophet in Israel who can heal the commander. He should go and see him, and so Naaman makes the trip to see Elisha. Elisha sends a messenger out to Naaman with simple instructions: “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” Naaman is furious. Can’t Elisha at least pray over him, or give him some special medicine, or do SOMETHING extraordinary? They’ve got better rivers at home—why should he bother with the River Jordan? Naaman turns in a huff, but his servants point out to him, “Sir, if the prophet had asked you to do something complicated, you would have done it, right? But how much easier simply to do the thing in front of you?” Naaman washes in the river, and is made clean.
The source of healing was there, all along. All Naaman had to do (and it’s a lot for most of us) was to put himself second, try on a little humility, take advice from someone else, and receive the good that was right there in front of him.
In the Gospel, ten lepers are healed and told by Jesus to go and show themselves to the priest for a final blessing. Nine of them just keep on going. They move on, perhaps looking for the next thing to fill them with happiness, or satisfaction, or safety. But the one healed leper—the Samaritan (the foreigner, the outsider, the one who was made fun of and talked about)—came back to Jesus to thank him. He understood that Jesus was the connected to the source of all healing and that he didn’t need to look any further for truth, for peace, or for love.
In both our primary scripture readings, we hear about people who are healed, but a big part of their healing has to do with what is right in front of them. Naaman in the first story and the leper in the second realize that they already live in a house with golden windows. They have all they need right where they are.
Today we celebrate and bless the love of Margie and Patsy. They have found in each other healing, wholeness, peace, and love—all centered and rooted in a life with Christ. Like golden windows, their affection radiates outward. Like cool waters that heal and renew, the current of their relationship offers safety and welcome to others.
As we celebrate the courage and faith of Patsy and Margie, may God help us to see the blessing in our midst, to claim that blessing, hold onto it for dear life, and for the love of God, protect it at all costs.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.