Monday, November 3, 2014

Water & Dirt

The story of Elisha and the great commander of the Syrian Army, Naaman being healed of his skin disease is about simple elements, a muddy river...and dirt.
Naaman, possibly because he’d been sent by the King of Syria to the King of Israel, expected something more than just being told by Elisha’s servant to go wash in the Jordan River seven times. At the very least he expected the great prophet to come out and speak to him.
Naaman must have been pretty smart to have listened to his own servants and to be convinced by them to at least try washing in the river. What did he have to lose?
He did exactly as the servant of Elisha told him. He removed his clothes and washed himself thoroughly seven times in the muddy Jordan River.
And when he came up out of the water his skin was like that of a young teenage boy. The skin disease was gone.
He was so happy to see it gone that he went to Elisha and tried to get him to take the present he had brought with him. Elisha wouldn’t take his gifts. When Elisha wouldn’t accept his gifts Naaman asked for 2 mule-loads of dirt. He pledged that he would no longer worship any gods but the one true God of Israel.
Muddy water cleansed Naaman and plain old dirt from in front of Elisha’s house was holy.
Water and dirt, two simple, basic elements we take for granted and yet they are reminders for us how our God works using the simplest of things.
It makes us think about the stories of Jesus healing the blind and deaf in the gospels. He took mud and spit and put in eyes and in ears and those who couldn’t see or hear were able to see and hear again.
There wasn’t anything magical about the mud or the water or spit. It was God’s grace that worked the miracle and with that was the people’s faith; together with God’s grace and their faith healing took place.
So many times in our lives we think that we need pomp and circumstance in order to be forgiven and made righteous before God. Or we think we need to jump through a lot of hoops in order to be cleansed, forgiven.
All we ever need is to confess and receive God’s forgiveness. The price was already paid in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. All we need to do is accept God’s grace as it’s freely given…and then realize nothing more is needed. All we have to do is live into the gift of grace.
That’s what hard to believe. God doesn’t want anything from us except for us to believe, to love God and our neighbors, and to make disciples. Simple things like water and dirt, grace and faith that’s all. And yet, like Naaman, we struggle to believe that’s all there is to it.

May God help us believe and strengthen our faith through his grace. Amen.

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