July 7, 2013 Seventh Sunday after Pentecost | The Community
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July 7, 2013 Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Laptop and working lunch. An outside table with a silver laptop, coffee and a sandwich on it.  © rcp:051010:a0021  This image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution only (free) license. This week’s readings

Last month I attended a gathering of church leaders called UNCO. It’s a completely open space conference where, instead of going to receive information, we bring the content.

One of the conversations I had was with Hugh Hollowell, pastor and director of Love Wins Ministries (no affiliation with Rob Bell. Hugh had it first). We were talking about non-violence as a way of speaking truth to power. He said that, unlike other faiths, Christianity actually calls us into conflict with power. Jesus entered a world full of exploited victims, then empowered them through peace to stop being victims. If we are going to follow Jesus Christ all the way (as our gospel last week challenged us to do), then our lives will be lived in direct conflict with oppression.

The tale of the healing of Naaman in 2 Kings is another of my favourites. I love the peaceful authority of Elisha. Elisha will not let Naaman’s military authority intimidate him into treating the commander like anyone else than a child of God in need of healing. Sometimes, our task is to force the powers that be to recognize they are not above the law or humanity. This was the accomplishment of the Occupy movement. As its international profile seems to have been quieted, local movements are popping up all over. And their message lingers. No corporation, no government, no agency has a divine right to use the law or money to exploit others. We often assume the servant girl spoke to Naaman’s wife only out of concern for her commander. Perhaps she knew exactly what Naaman would encounter in meeting “the prophet who is in Samaria”.

The psalm expresses the joy of one who is healed, although likely not Naaman. It is an interesting comparison to look at the healing of the psalmist and the healing of Naaman. The psalmist cried out to God and knows from where the healing power comes. Naaman would rather buy his healing than admit that God is more powerful than him.

Paul is encouraging the people of Galatia to stay true to their Gentile roots, in spite of the pressure they are facing to be circumcised. Even though those around tell the Galatians they are disobeying the law, Paul encourages them that their identity in Christ is based on their faith alone, not on any imperfect attempt to obey the law. He reminds the Galatians that the cross does not give us an escape from the world, but binds us with Christ more firmly to it. What we sow in the world will be the fruit of our faithfulness to God.

This continues in our gospel. The seventy are given their marching orders which include the warning of the inevitable conflict they will face. Reflecting on this passage with a group of clergy once, we were talking about the times in our ministry when we face conflict. Is Jesus really telling us to shake our shoes at people and walk away? Likely not. We can not simply abandon each person who throws their junk at us. What if Jesus means, don’t carry that dirt with you? Walk away if you must, but don’t let the burden of this conflict weigh you down wherever  you go. Rest in your identity in Christ.

What are your marching orders for this week?

Dawn Leger

About Dawn Leger

I am a priest in the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, having served in Stouffville, Ontario. I think preaching is a profound and great privilege granted to us by God and our Church. I love the reading, the writing, the proclaiming, the dissecting and the dialogue. I also love to cook, sing, read and laugh, in no particular order.

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2 Responses to July 7, 2013 Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

  1. Thanks Dawn for this ministry as together we prepare to proclaim the good news that we’re called to preach, guided through the various texts by the Holy Spirit.

    The gospel is the one that guides Missional Transformation. So as a parish we heard it, reflected on it, preached on it and disected it over the 2 years we were in that process. I’m so happy that the lectionary adds in the verses at the end of when they come back from the mission excursion they’ve been on. They’re so excited with what they’ve done and the “success” of their ministry. Jesus brings them back to the basics when it comes to “success” which in the end isn’t theirs but God’s working through them. In the end, our success as the church, as the body of Christ, as disciples, as children of God is to be faithful.

    Especially as we move into our time of transition leading up to my leaving St. M’s, I hope to reflect on what does it mean for us to think about the success of our time together … what are the measures we use compared to the secular world around us … and to affirm with all that is within me that we have been successful in that I believe we have been faithful.

    My thoughts as I begin putting things together in prep for Sunday.

  2. Dawn Leger

    I’m sorry I didn’t respond before Sunday, Mark. Sounds like your congregation was blessed. I loved the emphasis in the gospel and the first reading on not letting our status or our abilities get in the way of God’s work. All that we do should be pointing to Jesus Christ.

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