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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Controlling the Miracle: Naaman

The reading for Sunday, April 24, 2016:

2 Kings 5:  1-19


This Old Testament reading shows Naaman, who almost refuses a healing experience, because it involves a simple bath in a humble river. He wanted something grander and glorious--a better river, a waving of hands. We might think about how many times we get in the way of our own health and wholeness by refusing to believe that the process can be so easy.

We might want to believe that we're not like Naaman, but let's consider again.  Naaman is powerful. His arrogance flowers out of that power. He almost walks away from the gift of wholeness because of that arrogance.  He's offered a miracle, but because the miracle looks different from what he's expecting, he almost refuses it.

Luckily, he has servants who are willing to talk to him and to remind him of a saner approach.  And so he is healed.

I wonder how many of us have turned away from God's miracles.  Maybe it's because they don't look like what we thought they would be.  Or maybe it's because like Naaman, our powerful status blinds us to the presence of the miraculous. 

This text is also a text about crossing boundaries.  We see several nationalities in this text.  It's interesting to consider Elisha, an Israelite, asked to heal a general from another country, a country which might then attack Israel.  It's interesting to look at Naaman's reaction in light of different nationalities and expectations.  And of course, Naaman had leprosy, the ancient disease that inflicted a boundary between the sick and the well.

Many people who are sick, or who have sick loved ones, may be able to relate to this boundary--they may feel they live in a land that they never knew existed before.  Many of the rest of us fear that we may be exiled to the land of sickness.  How do these fears separate us from each other?  How do these fears separate us from God?

Whether we're healthy or sick, we are all in need of the miracle of salvation--and many stories in the Bible remind us that salvation comes from angles where we wouldn't expect it:  the dirty river not the mighty one, the messiah hanging on a cross not the warrior who kicks the Romans out of the promised land.

Where will we look for God this week?  And what will we miss, if we don't look in other directions?



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