The Kingdom of God is near.

Hear my sermon at St. Stephen’s Web site:, (Generally available mid Monday.) or read it below

July 7, 2012 Proper 9
2 Kings 5:1-14
Psalm 30
Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

When we got to our daughter’s there were hamburgers stacked high on gigantic gilded platters, hotdogs stacked like cordwood, mounds of potato salad, deviled eggs beyond counting, and later fireworks brilliantly flare against the darkened night sky. All in all it was a good day, a really good day. I hope you enjoyed your July 4th celebrations; Angie, Marcel, and I did. But, I must say, I think I’ve a bit of Naaman in me at the moment. Not that I see myself as a great man, not that I have some incurable socially debilitating, degenerating disease, not that I have a letter of introduction to a neighboring state leader; nope none of that stuff. It’s rather strangely like Naaman’s behavior after Elisha’s servant, from behind the partially opened door, tells him to wash in the Jordan seven times and he will be cured. Naaman gets angry, he expects the prophet, this [quote] man of God, to come out say some fancy words, make some intricate motions to effect his cure. And that’s the bit, his cure. For Naaman, this is all about “The Great and Powerful Naaman,” when in it truth, it’s all about God. And, at least as I was pondering all this Friday morning, as I struggled to write my blog bit, and the Facebook posting, and two orders, and a sermon, and facing our daughter’s rapidly approaching wedding, it was suddenly becoming all about me. In my experience, that is never a good thing. Oh I recover, but what I do to myself, and what I do to others it’s simply not as it should be.

That realization, jumped over to how we, as church, get on about our role as one of the 35 pairs Jesus sent ahead. When it goes well we are all about “The Kingdom of God.”
When it doesn’t goes as planned, we are about “Woe is us!” “Will we survive this crisis?” and so on. Sometimes we actually get angry at the people Jesus sent us to. We may not say anything to them, but the curious requirements we’re quick to put around benevolence quickly begins to look like vengeance: “You won’t listen to me about God, I won’t help you with food, clothes, housing, gas, medicine and so on. And if someone in our church begins to miss-behave, which, excluding sex and money, really means going to another church, we are, all too often, quick to chide them; because it’s all about us and their going else-where isn’t good for us.

Fortunately for Naaman he is surrounded by a bunch of no named, literally they are not named in the story, people who come to his aid: the Jewish slave girl, the Aramaean king, the unmentioned Jewish courtier who says something to Elisha, (He had to find out somehow.) and finally Naaman’s aides. And the good news is Naaman listens, is healed of his leprosy, and )a couple of verses later) comes to believe in God, so much so he carries two mule loads of dirt home, so he can properly worship God.

Now I know, than none of these unnamed characters are knowingly evangelist, but you’ve got ta acknowledge their actions, by hook or by crook, proclaimed to Naaman The Kingdom of God has come near you. and he got the message. And that is my vision for us. No – no, not for us to be unknown evangelists, and certainly not to be unaware evangelists, but to be those who whenever we meet someone be it a welcoming interaction, or a flat out rejection, lets it be known that “The Kingdom of God has come near you!” When Jesus sends those 70 out into a hostile world he tells them what to do when they are welcomed, and what to do when they are rejected, and both sets of instructions include saying “ The Kingdom of God has come near you!”

As I mentioned, I know what it is like to get sucked into that Naamanesque [quote] it’s all about me! mindset. I also know what it’s like for congregations to fall into the same [quote] It’s all about us! behavior. Now, we do not have a cast of unnamed aides to guide us as Naaman did. WE have something better, we have Paul, and he does share a bit of wisdom, with the Galatians, that seems to combat Naamanqesque quite nicely. Note, Paul is speaking about new members who fall under the influence of those preaching a corrupt Gospel. But what he writes applies to prophets, priests and kings, apostles, disciples, missionaries, evangelist, and just plain ordinary people of God, trying to go on ahead of Jesus.
             be gentle,
                 judgment is God’s work;
         then be careful you are not tempted,
             take care of each other;
        test yourselves;
        do not grow weary in doing what is right;
        work for the good of all;
        boast of nothing except Jesus the Christ;
        and finally, always remember
             that there is no divine division
                 among God’s people,
                 everyone is a new creation.

Do these seven little things and God’s peace and mercy will be upon you, and you will be a living sign that “the Kingdom of God is near!” http://www.lectionaryscriptureno
Proper 9 | Ordinary Time 14 | Pentecost 7, Cycle C
7 Pentecost, Proper 9 (C) – 2013
By the Very Rev. Antho ny F. M. Clavier
This Week at the Center for Excellence in Preaching
Next sunday is July 07, 2013 (Ordinary T ime)
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20, Scot t Hoezee
2 Kings 5:1-14, Scot t Hoezee
Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16, Stan Mast
Psalm 30, Doug Bratt
2 Kings 5:1-14, Karla Suomala
Galatians 6:[1-6]7-16, Sarah Henrich
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20, Michael Rogness