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Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.

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Ordinary Sunday 28, Year C
South Sydney Uniting Church
October 10, 2010

Psalm 91:1-3a; Luke 17:11-19

One is made well’

I really like this painting by Brian Kershisnik. We could spend a good ten minutes in meditation before it. I invite you to have it before you these next ten minutes or so – and some time during the week, also. What do you see?

“One of them, realizing what had happened, came back praising God in a loud voice, then fell down at the feet of Jesus and spoke his praises.” We might reflect today on our placing all trust and confidence in Jesus alone as the one who performs the works of God in our lives. The Saviour whose compassion overcomes fears of contagion and death. The Messiah whose liberation fulfills the promises of the law and the prophets, affirms, too, the role of the priests at the centre of cult and culture.

“The individual was a Samaritan.” We might reflect on the surprising and offensive faith of the most marginalized – in this case, the ostracized (and despised) foreigner. It is this one – the one from whom least is expected – who shows what it means to be saved. This Good Samaritan is deeply thankful. Translation: This good drug-dealer/people-smuggler/child-molester/fundamentalist/terrorist is deeply thankful. Meaning: There is no-one beyond redemption, no-one beyond being saved. In fact, the one from whom least is expected is the one who best exemplifies conversion to mercy – true change of heart – transformation in the Spirit – grace that makes graceful, grateful and gracious (Psalm 91:3).

Ten lepers are made clean but one is “made well”. In fact, one is saved (to be saved ¬– the Greek word is akin to salve, to salvage – is to be made well or made whole). There’s something here about holistic healing – healing of body and spirit. Physical, emotional and spiritual healing. Jesus is not saying that one was healed by faith and that the other nine were healed without faith. Jesus is distinguishing between the physical healing that all ten received and the being made well that one individual experienced.

We might, then, reflect on our evangelistic efforts. Do we bear and share concern for whole persons? Do we minister to physical as well as emotional and spiritual needs? When have we neglected the spiritual in our concern for the physical? When have we assumed spiritual authority (and concern) and neglected emotional needs? How might we better share a properly evangelical, that is, holistic, concern for each other – and for others?

Yesterday there were ten artists at work in the Hall and Garden and Church. Not for the first time, we were engaged in drawing one another. It struck me that I really needed that time to focus on a single and simple task. We had a sketch book each and rudimentary media – charcoal, pencil, pen, pastel. My phone was in my pocket. My lap-top was at home. The dish-washing and laundry could wait. The liturgies could be printed later. It was so good to simply sit and draw for a while.

I recalled an essay I’d read earlier over breakfast. "[T]hink of the cubicle dweller who has spent the entire morning immersed in the digital crowd, shuttling among emails, web pages, text messages and other electronic activity. She wants to step away and focus on just one thing, perhaps an important project requiring sustained thought and creativity ... How to refresh the overcrowded mind?" asked the essayist (Will Powers, ‘Plato’s iPhone’, Spectrum, SMH, Oct. 9-10, 2010, pp. 12-13).

The leper who returns to give thanks is the one who takes leave of the group, the one who takes leave of the crowd, for intimate connection.

We might reflect on a certain taking leave. We might reflect on a making space, a distancing without which no creative intimacy is possible. We might reflect on a making space, a distancing without which no saving religiousness is possible.

We might make space for silence now. And return, then, to the question: How might I better share a properly evangelical, that is, holistic, concern for others? … Amen.