The Leper and the Church-lady

Life Notes—February 9, 2012

“A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’  Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose.  Be made clean!’  Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.”  Mark 1:40-42

You have probably heard the story of the church-lady who got down on her knees during prayer time, Sunday after Sunday, and prayed to win the Lottery.  She prayed fervently, “O God, my Rock and my Redeemer, if you only let me win the Lottery I promise to devote the rest of my life to feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and caring for the needy.”  Her prayers continued unanswered until one Sunday she heard God whisper, “It would help if you actually bought a ticket…” 

Don’t get me wrong—I would never promote playing the Lottery as a way to serve God.  But sometimes we expect God to do all the work in our lives and act as if we can just sit back and collect the blessings.  I believe God is looking for blessing-creators, not just recipients.  In the scripture above, the leper goes to Jesus, kneels before him and acknowledges two very important points.  First, that Jesus has the power to heal him, recognizing Jesus’ Lordship over his condition.  Second, he acknowledges that Jesus has the free will to heal him.  He recognizes that, for whatever reason, Jesus may choose not to do so.  But Jesus says, “I do choose. Be made clean!”  And the man is made clean. 

One of the confounding mysteries is when, how and under what conditions God chooses to intervene in our lives.  That God does choose to intervene, at least at times, is not in doubt to me.  I have seen and experienced God’s intervention. But what of the times God seems to choose not to intervene?  What is different?  Alas, God only knows… 

A number of years ago I was very sick with what I thought was influenza.  I was feverish and achy and completely miserable.  Carrie took me to the Emergency Room where they diagnosed me with pneumonia, gave me fluids and medicine and sent me home a few hours later feeling like a new person.  If there is a magic formula to receive God’s specific blessing, I do not know what it is.  But I do believe God calls us to participate in our healing, to help shape our blessing and to actively seek that which we most desire for ourselves and others.  Oh, and like the leper and the church-lady, it never hurts to ask… 

Tom will preach a sermon titled, “The Power of Actions,” based on Luke 4:21-30 this Sunday downtown.  Life worship begins at 10:00 AM in Brady Hall.  Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  Mitch preaches at our west campus, where worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.  It is United Methodist Women’s Sunday and UMW members will be assisting at all services. 

Come home to church this Sunday.  How can you help initiate a blessing?

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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