“Standing in the Circle of Need”
Today my sermon is coming from the Gospel of Luke.
The Gospel of Luke is credited to the “beloved” Physician Luke.
The accreditation could be explained why he described sickness with such carefulness.
In the Gospel of Luke, Luke portrays Jesus’s character as
- Having a personal INTEREST IN WOMEN
- Caring for the POOR,
- The SOCIAL OUTCAST
- And the MOST VULNERBLE who were often OVERLOOKED.
Jesus is known as the one who
- HEALS THE OPPRESSED and
- The AFFLICTED
Luke begins his narrative in Ch. 17 by describing Jesus’ trip to Jerusalem to give His life as a substitute on behalf of us sinners.
While travelling, we find Jesus doing things He normally does which is
- teaching people about the Kingdom of God
- & performing miracles.
While Jesus was in Jerusalem, 10 Lepers approached Jesus from a distance.
According to the Priestly Code which is in the book of Leviticus, it gives instructions on how to deal with lepers.
If a person is found with the skin disease that results in scabs & white spots that later appears as “RAW FLESH,” he has to go to the priest for an EXAMINATION.
- If he is found to be UNCLEAN!!!
- He is considered as an OUTCAST!!!
- And must live ALONE!!! Outside of the gates
- AWAY!!! from the community & his family
Lepers were EXCLUDED!!! from society and had NO ASSOCIATION!!! With other people.
The lepers lived in a village among other lepers until
- They got BETTER
- Or worse, until they DIED.
This was a way to prevent the spreading of the disease during this time by keeping them ISOLATED.
In biblical times, Lepers were considered as
- UNCLEAN PHYSICALLY
- And SPIRITUALLY
Which causes them to be RITUALLY IMPURE which resulted in ISOLATION and BANISHED!!! from God’s presence.
While Jesus was walking through the village, the Lepers APPROACH HIM.
**In order for the 10 Lepers to MEET Jesus, they HAD TO KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT HIM!!!
There was something MARVELOUS and BRILLIANT about this man name, JESUS
That LURED them to approach Him from AFAR.
**THEY LIFTED THEIR VOICES AS A SIGNAL FOR HELP!!!**
They CRIED from the inside out, “JESUS, MASTER!!!”
**Master from the Greek text is epistates (e-pe-sta-tas) which means an OVERSEER or a COMMANDER.
They did not address Him from the fact that He was a RABBI/ a TEACHER,
But they addressed Him with “MASTER” b/c
- THEY ACKNOWLEDGED HIS AUTHORITY
- THEY ACKNOWLEDGED HIS POWER…
- HIS WILL…
- THEY ACKNOWLEDGED that He could do thing that NO OTHER MAN COULD DO!
**THAT IS WHY THEY CRIED W/ ALL THEIR MIGHT, “HAVE MERCY ON US!!!”
The word MERCY-in Greek is eleeo (el-eh-eh’-o). It is a VERB which means to
With the MISERY of another THAT FIRST STARTS FROM THE INSIDE OF A PERSON. It must be manifested in ACTION!
IT MUST BE SHOWN!!!
It is not something that is easily done, THAT IS WHY THE LEPERS
- GROANED !!! &
b/c they wanted Jesus to **MOVE—**—with pity to HELP THEM!!!
This story causes me to reflect on the PAST & TODAYS TIME– what is going on in our world today such as
- POLICE BRUTALITY
- ABUSE & NEGLECT toward our young children & the elderly,
- Human beings that are DEPRIVED FROM THEIR GOD GIVEN RIGHTS
**HOWEVER, TODAY I AM NOT TALKING MERELY ON THE DISEASE CALLED LEPROSY**
- THAT IS NOT THE MAIN POINT!!!
**But what is UNIQUE about this story is that the 10 lepers ALL CAME TOGETHER in spite of their DIFFERENCES.
One did not SHUN the other b/c one was
- Academically successful
- GAY, or whatever that falls into the LGBTQ category
- Or the color of their skin
- Or their cultural background.
**WHATEVER THEIR DIFFERENCES!!! WERE, THEY WERE OVERLOOKED!!!
And THEY ALL CAME TOGETHER as 1 & THEY BEGAN!!!
- to SHOUT!!!
- They began to CRY!!!
- They began to JUMP UP & DOWN TRYING TO GET JESUS’ ATTENTION!!!
**Their DIFFERENCES were OVERLOOKED b/c they ALL ACKNOWLEDGED that they all had at least ONE thing in common!!!
- THEY ALL NEEDED SOMETHING FROM JESUS!!!
The title of my sermon today is, “Standing in the Circle of Need.”
Sometimes we might feel a little TROUBLE, OR NERVOUS if we happened TO BE IN THE COMPANY OF SOMEONE…
- THAT IS NOT LIKE US
- They may be a different GENDER
- The COLOR OF THEIR SKIN may be different than ours.
- One may be WEALTHY while another may be beneath us in POVERTY
- We may not fit into the same POLITICAL PARTY
- **HOW EASY IT IS TO OVERLOOK SOMEONE…… THAT IS NOT LIKE US!!!**
MY STORY BEGINS HERE….
When I was a child at the age of 8 or 9, I found comfort in the BIBLE during my abusive childhood. I gladly told everyone THAT GOD IS CALLING ME TO PREACH!!!
Of course, no one really took me seriously, because I was young. I was first baptized into the Methodist denomination. I told my pastor & his wife how much I LOVED GOD’S WORD and how He is calling me INTO THE MINISTRY. They embraced me & allowed me to do certain things in the church.
As time went by, my mother transferred me & my sisters from the Methodist into the Baptist denomination.
I told my NEW pastor that God is calling me to preach also. But He insisted, “NO, GOD DOES NOT ALLOW A WOMAN to PREACH!!!”
As the years went by, I was still trying to find a way to FIT IN. I was trying to find the answer to “HOW CAN I NOT BE OVERLOOKED?”
I asked myself, “Is God really telling me ‘No’ b/c I am a WOMAN?” NO! NO! THERE HAS TO BE ANOTHER WAY!!!
While at Stillman College, I joined another Methodist church mainly because I knew the Methodist denomination will accept me as a “WOMAN” who has a call to go into the ministry.
During this time while majoring in Theology, I agreed to start my internship here, at Grace Presbyterian Church. During my internship, I noticed how Grace accepts not only WOMEN, but anyone who is “NOT LIKE ME.”
The atmosphere is DIFFERENT. It is AMAZING!
Grace embraces the LGBTQ community, something that I NEVER EXPERIENCED in the Methodist denomination!
During the DAWN of this moment I was still a Methodist and was not QUITE satisfied on how the Methodist denomination OVERLOOKED individuals.
This is what drove me away from the Methodist denomination to land here at Grace Presbyterian Church, Where I now call… my HOME.
Some of us HERE have been OVERLOOKED, or is still being OVERLOOKED just like the 10 lepers who were OVERLOOKED by
the society b/c they happened to be DIFFERENT.
If you look around in some groups who are protesting for
- EQUAL WAGES
- AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE
- & A STAND FOR FAIR EDUCATION
You will not only see
- African Americans
- Not all are females
- Not all are heterosexuals
**BUT THEY ALL CAME TOGETHER!!! b/c THAT HAD THE SAME AMBITION!!!**
- TO DO SOMETHING
- TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN
like the 10 lepers who CAME together making all this commotion…ONLY TO GET JESUS’S ATTENTION.
- B/c of His authority
- B/c of what He was capable of doing.
THEY WANTED JESUS TO NOTICE THEM!!!
They had a NEED & knew that this MAN ONLY could fulfill that special NEED!!!
And when they finally got Jesus’s attention,
- Go & show yourselves to the priest- a commandment that He gave them in order to follow the procedure of the law that requires the priest to EXAMINE THE LEPER, to make sure he is CLEAN!, so he can GO BACK! into the society as a NORMAL INDIVIDUAL.
- No more as an OVERLOOKED INDIVIDUAL, but as a NORMAL BEING.
Is this not AMAZING?
To know that this leper can NOW GO BACK to his land & RETURN unto his family?
**SOMETHING WE ALL YEARN FOR EVERYDAY OF OUR LIVES…TO NOT BE OVERLOOKED!!!**
And as the 10 lepers who were
- Known to be INFERIOR
- TALKED ABOUT & MISTREATED……B/C THEY WERE DIFFERENT
While they were walking to the priest FOR AN EXAMINATION
- Their sores began to HEAL!!!
- Their scabs began to DISAPPEAR!!!
- And their flesh began to look NEW!!!
But only 1 OF THEM TURNED BACK AROUND to give THANKS before he made it to the priest.
He came back to CELEBRATE!!! & to give HONOR!!!
This individual was
- NOT like Jesus
- He was NOT a JEW
The scripture states that this individual was
- A foreigner
- A person of a different background
According to the scriptures, the Jews and the Samaritans
- DID NOT!!! Have anything in common
- They DID NOT!!! Associate themselves with one another
- They DID NOT!!! Like one another too well.
The group of lepers were
- Not all Jews
- They were not all Samaritans
- Nor all males
**Actually, they all were… “VERY DIFFERENT.”
- But they all had a YEARNING in their hearts
- They all had an AMBITION to be healed.
When they saw Jesus from far COMING into their village.
**THEY SHOUTED TO ONE ANOTHER,**
**“LET’S ALL COME TOGETHER!!! LET’S GET THIS MAN’S ATTENTION!!!**
- So 1 leper RAN & got another leper
- The 2nd one RAN & got another one.
- The 3rd & 4th one RAN & got another one also.
**and FINALLY, there were 10 LEPERS- ALL THOSE WHO WERE
- WILLING TO MAKE A SCENE
- TO SEE WHAT JESUS COULD DO FOR THEM
- They OVERLOOKED their DIFFERENCES.
- They OVERLOOKED their SEXUAL ORIENTATION.
- It DIDN’T MATTER if there was a WOMAN in the group
- It DIDN’T MATTER if there was an IMMIGRANT
- It DIDN’T MATTER if there was a JEW or a SAMARITAN
- It DIDN’T MATTER if there was a…DARK SKINNED LEPER.
None of that mattered…NO NO NO…none of these things matter at all.
We all need to BECOME like those 10 lepers.
Those 10 lepers were
- NOT ASHAME to MAKE A SCENE!!!
- They were NOT AFRAID to BEG FOR MERCY!!!
- Most of all, THEY WERE NOT AFRAID TO COME TOGETHER!!!
HOWEVER, we most defiantly need to look CLOSELY at the leper who was a STRANGER.
A stranger who was
- OVERLOOKED!!! By Jews
- OVERLOOKED!!! By anyone WHO WAS NOT LIKE HIM!!!
But this OVERLOOKED leper DID NOT OVERLOOK JESUS!!!
He came to Jesus, not once, but he RETURNED to Him w/
CONFIDENCE b/c he NEEDED mercy.
Jesus EXTENDS His MERCY, not only for THOSE WHO ARE LIKE HIM,
BUT THOSE WHO ARE NOT.
- The Lepers were separated by the law & social distance, but w/ Jesus’s MERCY, he TOOK AWAY the distance b/w the leper & God.
- When Jesus died on the CROSS, he became our MEDIATOR-He became the BRIDGE b/w the gap.
He not only delivered us from SIN, but from
- From fear
- From Homophobia
- & Discrimination
And by knowing this, we can hold firmly to
Therefore, LET US ALL
- Grace Presbyterian Church
- My brothers & sisters
- My family & friends
LET US ALL draw near w/ CONFIDENCE to the throne of GRACE,
So that WE ALL may receive MERCY and find GRACE to HELP in time of NEED.
LIKE THE LEPERS
- Sin can make us UNCLEAN! in God’s sight.
- Sin SEPARATES! us from God.
- It BANISHES! us from God’s presence
- & we are often OVERLOOKED!.
But when we become BOLD & UNASHAME like those 10 lepers who asked to be CLEAN not only
- But spiritually
We can now STAND in God’s sight……. like the STRANGER-
***The one who was… VERY DIFFERENT from Jesus.***
WE CAN STAND FIRMLY….
KNOWING THAT HE IS WILLING
TO HAVE MERCY ON US!!!
- We can approach Jesus
- In all our needs in spite of our DIFFERENCES
- We have been like those 10 lepers
- We have been OVERLOOKED in some form or fashion.
However, it is NOT THE TIME! to be SELF CENTERED!.
It is time to put our DIFFERENCES aside and come TOGETHER like those 10 lepers.
- We all are JUMPING UP & DOWN
- WAVING OUR HANDS IN THE AIR, trying to get Jesus’s TO NOTICE US!!!
WE ARE SHOUTING FROM THE INSIDE OUT!!!
“JESUS—, MASTER—!!! HAVE MERCY ON US!!!”
WE ALL are standing IN THAT SAME CROWD…
WE ALL ARE STANDING TOGETHER AS 1…
IN THAT SAME CIRCLE OF NEED!!!
Charge & Benediction
I CHARGE YOU ALL TODAY!
TO CONSIDER WHOM YOU MAY BE OVERLOOKING
LET US ALL
COME TO JESUS’ FEET
AND RECEIVE HIS MERCY
MAY GOD’S GRACE, PEACE, & LOVE BE WITH YOU ALL!!!