Sermon: The Ten Lepers

Luke 17:11-19

What a simple, pithy story. Ten lepers are healed, and only one gives thanks. As a mum I’m often hissing ‘what do you say? ‘ to my kids when we are out shopping. Failure to say thank you goes against the grain of basic good manners. Did you notice that the one who did thank Jesus was a Samaritan?

During October the Anglican church throughout the whole country focused on penal reform, on praying for the justice system, for prisoners, their families, their victims, and those otherwise involved with the care and rehabilitation of prisoners. It’s easy to think of people in prison as being somehow not like us. To regard the prison population as being largely of another race, another social grouping, and not to truly regard their humanity. Today’s story about the lepers brings out the theme of challenging the listener to regard the outsider, in this case the Samaritan, who is from the hated next-door country, as a real person, and not less-than-human.

It’s easy to be scared of people who are not like us.

Last year I was running a sausage sizzle with my daughter, who was about eleven, as we fundraised for her to go to Girl Guides Jamboree. Lots of people came and bought sausages – they were your usual crowd outside Harvey-Norman. Families, different races, all having a leisurely Saturday. But then a patched gang member came up. My daughter got really frightened, as she had never met a gang member before. This fellow asked for his sausage, he said, please and thank you, and was really polite! In fact he was our most polite customer of the day. He spoke so respectfully as he requested his sauces and onions. It was quite a surprise to my daughter, who had expected him to be rough and scary.

The shock she got was probably just like the shock Jesus’ audience got when they heard that the only person who had behaved appropriately, in gratitude for his healing, was one of that lot over there, the hated other.

For many of us the prison population are like the hated other – in prison because of what they have done, that they deserve to be there.

I’m not for a minute suggesting that no one needs to be in prison, just that we as Christians need to take up the challenge Jesus offers us in the Gospel, and see the Other as fully human, loving all prisoners, their families, their victims, and praying for a godly system of justice and rehabilitation for our society. We can all do that.

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Healing at the cross?

I was watching television the other day, and an advertisement came on for throat lozenges, which contain healing as well as soothing ingredients. The image used to depict healing was a cross, a square one, like the Red Cross, but in green.

I got to thinking – if the wider world recognizes the cross as a symbol of healing, what are we in the church doing about it? Are we telling our communities that they can come to the cross for healing, that they can ask for healing prayer, and that this will be effective in many cases? I know in my own family of countless instances of healing when we pray.

( see the posts about Josiah’s healing when he couldn’t walk last year.)

If the world can recognize a cross as a symbol of healing, we need to re-claim that cross, the empty cross of the Risen Christ, and tell the world around us just why it is that God can heal.

And we also need to trust God ourselves to heal us. Sometimes healing can happen without medical intervention, sometimes it needs everything we can throw at it, but surely one of the first things we must do when we are sick is pray?

Global warming takes a vacation

Washington Times 17Jan2013Thanks to Whaleoil for his re-post. Here is the article from the Washington Times of 17 January 2013.

Those who dare assert the Earth’s temperature isn’t on a perilous rise are derided as “deniers.” For liberals, the climate debate has ended, and it is an unquestionable article of faith that mankind’s carbon-dioxide emanations have set the stage for rising oceans, devastating hurricanes and disasters on a scale never before seen. To say otherwise is unthinkable, and that has created a dilemma. It’s not actually getting warmer.

In a paper published Tuesday, no less an authority than NASA scientist James E. Hansen wrote, “The 5-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade, which we interpret as a combination of natural variability and a slowdown in the growth rate of the net climate forcing.” Mr. Hansen is the intellectual godfather of the global-warming movement who advised Al Gore on his Oscar-winning climate-scare flick, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Mr. Hansen has just acknowledged more than the lack of warming. His words confirm nature, not mankind, played the decisive role in directing global temperatures over the past 10 years.

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Photo update on Josiah O’Brien’s miracle healing

Click for gallery view

These photos from the Festival of Joy meeting held 1 November in Tawa, Wellington, have just come to hand. The Evangelist Ram Babu from India, in New Zealand for a few days, is shown praying for Josiah in the altar call lineup. Josiah’s father is alongside the wheelchair and on the platform. I believe the meeting was organised by the Tamil Christian Fellowship, Wellington who meet in the Tawa Salvation Army Hall. Their local contact in Tawa is Moses Rajasingh.

The two pictures of Josiah O’Brien on the footpath were taken this morning, 22 November 2012  at 8:45 am, as he walked to school. Praise God.

A miracle has occurred

josiah-web-10pm_1Nov2012-Healed

Josiah, home after healing

Guest post by Kevin O'Brien.

I need to speak out too after last night 1 November 2012. Josiah O’Brien, Felicity’s and my son, pushed his wheelchair from behind out of the Salvation Army Church hall and down the road to the car then after a short trip walked into Subway to get a late snack.

Since July Josiah has had to use crutches as his left leg has had a muscle causing a constant kick on awakening, about three tics every two seconds.  For the past three weeks his right leg also has become unusable and very painful to touch. When not in a wheel chair, he has got around on his side, with one leg up in the air to keep it from being touched. Despite that he has remained cheerful although a bit agitated at times.

Hospital experts from throughout New Zealand have examined him either directly or remotely. The consensus view being, that whatever it was he had, it was extreme and that there was no way he could control it. It was thought on balance to be probably of neurological origin but nothing was proven. Tuesday this week Josiah had an MRI scan under general anesthetic and results are still awaited. However the recovery nurse observed and recorded tremors while he was still unconscious tending to prove the neurological origin.

Last night Evangelist Ram Babu was ministering in Tawa and I took my boy along with expectation. Ram Babu is from India and was here for the one night before returning to India next week. Ethnically, white NZedder’s there were a small minority: God’s family has no colour.

The meeting was typical of healing meetings with praise and worship loud enough to shake the heavens. Miraculous healing took place through prayer based on words of knowledge. We all watched in awe as a woman had an arm restored to its proper place and length.

Ram Babu preached on the Corinthians text about being a new creation in Christ and that Christ does not fix or repair but makes new those who come to him.

Josiah was getting tired and I thought of taking him out but he would not go and later told me that he just blocked out the loud sounds to “wait for the healing”. Josiah responded to the altar call and I was surprised to see his little hand raised gently up without any influence from me. Indeed I had my eyes closed too most of the time. I wheeled him up to the front and Ram Babu laid hands on him and prayed for healing then continued on to pray for others.

In a minute or two an assistant came and asked Josiah to stand up and get out of his wheel chair. Josiah responded cautiously and he slowly put both feet fully on the ground and was self supporting. He then was asked to come up onto the platform and the whole church was excited watching this miracle. Josiah was running around on the platform mostly on tip toes (he had been unable previously to put either foot fully on the floor) and began to walk and run properly as he once did. He was obviously tired and appeared as though he might  be crying and I was a little concerned that he was being asked to do so much.

I was then invited to come up onto the platform too to be with him. The first thing I did after hugging him was to pinch his right leg in several places knowing that he could not previously tolerate it being touched. I touched it severely. There was no pain response. Josiah was healed!

Ram Babu encouraged him some more and sat with him a while. The whole church were in amazement. We left at the close with everyone else with Josiah asking me to return the wheelchair that very evening. I had to remind him that shops were not open at 9pm. The wheelchair coincidentally was due to be returned or rehired the following day so God’s timing was impeccable.

To God alone be the Glory.

I know that my redeemer lives.

Healed!

At the end of July my seven-year-old son Josiah woke up with an uncontrollable movement in his left leg – it moved backwards and forwards and he couldn’t stop it. This meant he couldn’t bear his weight, so walking was not possible. He was diagnosed with a tic disorder, and we organised for him to have crutches so he could get around, and waited for various tests at the hospital. This was one of those ongoing things that we had no idea whether he would improve, or when, so we just had to trust God and be thankful that Jos was otherwise well.

About three weeks ago when he woke the other leg had a problem – it was very sensitive to any touch, and he couldn’t stand on it either. He was reduced to getting around on one knee and two hands.

We organised a wheelchair for him, and had more tests at the doctor.

Last night my husband took Jos to a healing meeting with Indian Evangelist Ram Babu. They were out for a long time – the meeting started at 6, and at 9.45 I was starting to wonder where they were, when I heard the car come in, and then the door opened, and in walked Josiah.

Yes, he walked in, on his own two feet, with this amazing smile on his face, and an aura of peace around him. You can imagine, we broke out the Lemonade and had a little party!

When he was prayed for, the evangelist told him to get up out of the chair, and Jos had the faith to know that he had been healed. He ran around, a little unsteady. This was no hypnotic trick!

When he said goodnight to me, he said, “I love you Mum, but I love God more.”

Amen!