Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sun. Jul. 4, 2010 (J. Evan Kreider)

Evan Kreider, speaking on the lectionary passage 2 Ki 5:1-19, began with the history of the state of war that existed between Aram and Judah. These long-standing and devastating wars, made the arrival of Naaman at Ahab’s (?) court for healing a suspected ruse for another war. However, Elisha, reassures the king that God is still in charge, and Naaman is sent to him. Seemingly snubbing him, Elisha’s servant is sent with directions for healing. As a skeptical and angry Naaman is healed by God (and not Elisha), Naaman is converted to Jahweh’s rule; and asks two interesting gifts of God - soil to worship God on, and permission to continue a pagan practice. Elisha blesses both requests with “Go in peace.” Evan notes several things; that Elisha saw Naaman as a human being with leprosy, not a general to be feared; that God continues His work not through the kings, but through small people - the Jewish slave girl who advises Naaman to go to Elisha, the servant who encourages obedience. Third - God’s healing was a gift, without conditions, not even to give up warring against the Jewish people. Jews, hearing this story, might well wonder why this gift was bestowed without circumcision or dietary requirements, not to mention acceptance of Naaman’s duty in bowing to a foreign idol. Evan commemorated J. Lawrence Burkholder’s recent passing a few days ago, a former colleague of Evan’s father’s in Goshen. Burkholder noted that radical Anabaptist dissent doesn’t always work in the secular world as people are forced to make what he called “tragic decisions”. As with Naaman’s duty, the ambiguous nature of the secular world requires compromise. Are there two standards - one for Jews, the other for converts? St. Paul seemed to think so, in that his new Greek converts were not required to observe Jewish practice gain faith in the risen Christ. Evan’s Amish forebears’ desire to obey God was compromised by the demands of society and interpretation. Evan suggests, in our struggle to remain relevant in the modern world, we keep in mind the tension between the fresh, new faith of Naaman and wisdom of Elisha, and hope for God’s blessing on us all. [AP] Listen to the sermon audio MP3 recording from Sunday, July 4th, 2010 using your browser's preferred media player.



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