OPENING SENTENCE- I will exalt you, O Lord because you have restored my life.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
COLLECT FOR PURITY
to whom all hearts be open
all desires known
and from whom no secrets are hidden;
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you
and worthily magnify your holy name
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
SUMMARY OF THE LAW
Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”
The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. Amen. Lord, have mercy.
God is love and we are God’s children.
There is no room for fear in love.
We love because God loved us first.
Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.
God our Father, we confess to you
and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ
that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,
and in what we have failed to do.
We are truly sorry.
Forgive us our sins,
and deliver us from the power of evil,
for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.
GLORIA sung by Sue St Joseph
let the world be ordered in peace,
according to your will:
that your people may be free
to worship you with joy;
through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen
FIRST READING 2 KINGS 5: 1-14 read by Peter Boreham
The Healing of Naaman
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from a skin disease. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his skin disease.” So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. And the king of Aram said, “Go, then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.”
He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his skin disease.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his skin disease? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.”
But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God and would wave his hand over the spot and cure the skin disease! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage. But his servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So, he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.
SECOND READING GALATIANS 6:7-16 read by Kay Solaja
Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh, but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all and especially for those of the family of faith.
Final Admonitions and Benediction
See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand! It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything, but a new creation is everything! As for those who will follow this rule—peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
GOSPEL READING LUKE 10:1-11, 16-20 read by Rev Janice Aiton
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Luke chapter 10 beginning
at verse 1
Glory to Christ our Saviour.
The Mission of the Seventy-Two
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way; I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if a person of peace is there, your peace will rest on that person, but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’
“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”
The Return of the Seventy-Two
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. Indeed, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel
Praise to Christ our Lord
The story is told of a little boy and his father. They were walking along a road when they came across a large stone. The boy looked at the stone and thought about it a little. Then he asked his father, “Do you think if I use all my strength, I can move that rock?” The father thought for a moment and said, “I think that if you use all your strength, you can do it.” That was all the little boy needed. He ran over to the rock and began to push on it. He pushed and he pushed, so hard did he try, that little beads of sweat appeared on his forehead. But the rock didn’t move — not an inch, not even half an inch. After a while, the little boy sat down on the ground. His face had fallen. “You were wrong,” he told his dad. “I can’t do it.”
His father walked over to him, knelt beside him, and put his arm around the boy’s shoulder. “You can do it,” he said. “You just didn’t use all your strength. You didn’t ask me to help.” The world in which we live tells us that it is all up to us. It tells us that we have to be strong and independent. It tells us we can’t and shouldn’t count on anyone or anything else. Be self- sufficient. Be independent. And yet, what faith tells us and what Christians have known forever is that we need each other and that we have a ready source of help and strength in Jesus. As Scripture says:” I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” This strength and help is available to all those who ask.
Asking for help does not come easily. It is only when we reach desperation point that we seek help. That was certainly the case for Naaman in the Old Testament. Naaman is to all appearances a man with every reason to be content. He already has most of the things that many in our day spend a lot of time and energy striving for in life. As commander of the military forces of Aram, Naaman no doubt would have been wealthy, in a position of considerable influence. He was, as we are told in verse 1, in high favour with the king. He was highly successful in his career- a mighty warrior who had delivered victory over Israel on the battlefield to his king, and on a rapid track to an early retirement with a very attractive pension arrangement. What more could a man possibly want? But the story reminds us that such material success alone cannot supply real contentment. Naaman for all his power and influence is not content. Power and money are not everything. They cannot buy health- the one thing Namaan really needed. You see -he was suffering from a disfiguring, humiliating, socially ruinous disease whose ironic advance on his body marches relentlessly on as the days pass. That Naaman’s paradox: one of the most successful and powerful men alive, who could halt any advancing power is utterly vulnerable and powerless to prevent this assault on his own flesh.
This cruel assault on his flesh could not be cured. We may take it I think that a man in Naaman’s position would already have consulted the best private doctors in Damascus and perhaps even tried a few of the alternative remedies that could be purchased from furtive looking sales executives in the bazaar. By the time we catch up with him it seems that he has already reached desperation point. It is not easy to disguise leprosy, once its ravages spread to those parts of the body that are difficult to cover up in normal everyday life. Naaman’s problem has become so apparent that even the servants in the household are talking about it though no doubt behind his back rather than to his increasingly disfigured face.
The domestic gossip eventually reaches the ears of Naaman’s wife’s maid- as it happens an Israelite girl taken captive on one of Naaman’s own raiding parties across the border. This marks a significant change in Naaman’s fortunes. For the girl remembers hearing stories about a man from Samaria, a prophet with a reputation for doing amazing things in the power of God’s spirit, and someone, who she is convinced, could easily cure a man of leprosy. Despite her anonymity and precisely because of her apparent misfortune as a recently required piece of military booty, the young girl plays a vital part in the story, simply by telling what she knows. She tells her mistress about the prophet. Viewed from the perspective of what follows we can see this girl from the land of Israel as God’s spokeswoman in the right place at the right time, and glad to tell of the wonders of her faith. That’s it. She can and need do no more. She helps by giving information via a chit- chat to her mistress.
This bit of intimate chit chat- maid to her mistress no doubt was relayed later in the evening to Naaman. Naaman how should we imagine him reacting? Even if he takes the girl’s claims seriously what is he supposed to do? Naaman is one of the most powerful and respected men in Aram but probably that makes him the most feared and hated man in Israel. Remember Aram is at war with Israel, and even though Aram has Israel in a military stranglehold, Naaman is hardly likely to be welcomed with open arms there, let alone be given the red -carpet treatment if he shows up asking for medical favour. Then there is the whole humiliation thing. There are lengths to which a man can reasonably be expected to go to sort out his problems but visiting the prophet of a foreign religion and probably being put through God alone knows what mumbo jumbo ceremony, with smoke and chanting—it’s enough to make your skin crawl but then Naaman’s skin is already creeping and if there is any chance that this could actually work, maybe it’s just worth a try. Naaman heeds the young girl’s advice. Why? There is something about her that he trusts. The little girl past on information, a small detail in the story but a pivotal one. Our small deeds can be pivotal and change the lives of others. Naaman decides to take her advice and give it a try.
Anything is worth a try- Naaman is desperate. So, he sets off with a letter of introduction from his king along with his regular train of camels, chariots and troops and on this occasion with a considerable chunk of finance with him. Eventually he arrives at the prophet’s house and anxiously knocks at the door. But Elisha, the prophet doesn’t even come to the door. He sends a messenger, who tells Naaman. Thanks for coming. Elisha is actually a bit busy just now but he says just call in at the Jordan and dip yourself seven times. The problem should clear up shortly afterwards. It’s a classic put down line and how will Naaman react? Everything builds up to this moment and everything hinges on it. It’s a test of Naaman’s character by God.
Initially it looks like a test that he is going to fail. Naaman, we read became angry and went away saying’ I thought that for me that he would surely come out and stand and call on the name of the Lord, his God and would wave his hand over the spot and cure the leprosy! Are not the waters of Damascus better than those of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean? He turned and went away in a rage. It’s a complex response. At one level of course it is the reaction of pure pique and sense of being wrongly treated. But there is another aspect to this reaction, it’s one of disillusionment and disappointment. Having come all this way, having taking the risk, Naaman wants at least to feel the journey was worth it. He was expecting to be subjected to a bona fide religious ritual for his troubles that would eventually reap dividends But Elisha refuses to pander to these expectations. No ritual , no ceremony. No hype, no drama!
No drama, no hype.. only a set of instructions! Some people are better than others at following instructions Will Naaman follow Elisha’s instructions or not? How good are you at following instructions from others? When you get a new television, phone, cooker, washing machine or computer – are you the type of person who sits and reads all the instructions in the enclosed manual? Or are you the type of person who ignores the manual completely and just does what you think is right? Naaman is definitely in the latter category, he has fixed ideas on what is right and on how God should and ought to work. He has little regard or time for Elisha’s instructions.
Healing has to be on Naaman’s terms. Can we identify with that? When things are not right do we look for them to be fixed according to our expectations and our desires? Can we cast aside our agenda and expectations and be open to new ways and directions? Can Naaman? Naaman needs a bit of persuading. His servants for whatever reason and whatever means succeed in persuading him-after all what does he have to lose? Note again the small but significant role played by the servants here. They cajole him and encourage him to follow the instructions given. Naaman wrestles with their pleading.
Their pleading and Elisha’s instructions are challenging Naaman’s sense of self-importance and his sense of power. He is now confronted with a choice – to turn away from this demeaning situation or to step out in faith and trust, risking everything. It all hinges all how badly Naaman wants this! Well in a moment of madness, or is it a moment of sanity, he decides to give it a go. We read how Naaman’s response is one in which he is wholly transformed inside and out. It is a story of inner and outer change- physical healing in the cleansing of his skin, and inner healing and cleansing in his heart and mind – leading Naaman to a faith and trust in the one true living God. Naaman believed and trusted in the God of Elisha. This God had the healing touch.
God is the God of surprises and works in mysterious and surprising ways. When God wants to lay hold on our lives, sometimes he has to come to us in unexpecting ways, even incognito, unidentifiable and take us at our most vulnerable. When we are caught by surprise, reduced to bare essentials, and called to take a step that in the world’s eyes is foolish, then we discover what is really important in life, and what is really worth investing in. Naaman discovered that trusting in God, following his simple instructions was something worth investing in. It gave him new life, hope and purpose, and many more like Naaman have trusted God, followed his instructions and can testify to the great work of God in their lives.
What about us? Will we be like the servants, the right people at the right time in the right place, doing the little we can to help others discover God who meets us in unexpected and surprising ways? How well do you think you would respond to instructions from God given by others, who have your best interests at heart? Would you listen to them and then act, believing that in a surprising way God is speaking through them and guiding us? May we recognise his presence, his voice and his love in our lives. Amen
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one substance with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.
With the Father and the Son,
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Lord you are compassion.
You are aware of the hurts
and suffering that your people face.
We think of those who suffer from leprosy
and pray that they might receive all the prayer
and help they need.
We thank you for the work of the Leprosy Mission
and ask your blessing on their ministry.
Lord of all healing
Hear our prayer
Lord of all truth and goodness
we pray for those in positions of authority
in the church all over the world,
and in each gathered community
that in all the challenges and pressures
we may be enabled to hear your calming voice
and deepen our trust in you.
Lord of all healing
Hear our prayer
Lord of great power and majesty
we pray for those with political and military power,
and all whose decisions affect many lives.
Speak truth into motives, honour into actions
and your vision of peace into every situation.
Lord of all healing
Hear our prayer
Lord of all compassion, we pray for families
whose lives have been torn apart
as a result of terrorism.
We pray for those countries in hostility and war,
thinking of Ukraine,
Israel and Palestine
and also of Syria and Sudan,
asking that they might have security and peace.
As people weather storms at home and abroad
lavish your care upon them,
carry them when too weak to walk on their own,
and bring them peace and quell their fears.
Lord of all healing
Hear our prayer
Lord of all healing we pray for those
whose minds and hearts are in turmoil,
whose lives lurch from one crisis to crisis,
for those who find their lives shattered
by illness or injury;
send your light and hope
into their darkness and pain.
Lord of all healing
Hear our prayer
Lord of the resurrection,
we lift to you those
whose earthly life is ebbing away
and ask that they might be welcomed home by you.
Be with all who journey with them,
and reassure them of your abiding love and care.
Lord of all healing
Hear our prayer
Lord of all, we thank you
that in the joys and storms of life,
you are our constant companion,
ready to help and carry us,
wiling to strengthen, guide and lead us.
Enfold us all today in your abiding love.
Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Do not bring us to the time of trial
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.
The peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord:
and the blessing of God the Father,
the Son and Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen
Go or stay in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen