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Sermon (2) and Liturgy For The Sixth Sunday After Epiphany - Year B
II Kings 5:1-14; Psalm 30; Mark 1:40-45
"Cleansed and Restored (If You Will)"


READING:  II Kings 5:1-14; Psalm 30; Mark 1:40-45
SERMON :  "Cleansed and Restored (If You Will)"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-or06sx 101800

   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
   for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
   found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
   SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC

   Sources:  The Prayers of The People and the Prayer of Dedication
   are based in part upon those found John Maynard
   (maynard@sympac.com.au) "Prayers and Litanies for the 6th Sunday
   after Epiphany, Year B" as sent to the PRCL List, in February of
   2000 and 2003 and include citations from Christine Odell,
   "Companion to the RCL", Vol. I, p. 71;   Horace T. Allen, Jr. "A
   Handbook for the Lectionary", p. 125; and Moira Laidlaw.  The
   Eucharistic prayer is based on that of Nathan Nettleton in his
   "Eucharistic Preface for The Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, Year B"
   (www.laughingbird.net), 2003.  The children's time is based on
   one by Father Max Bower, Kids Church, February 2003 at 
   www.grassroots.com.au/Kidschurch/KidsChurch.htm 


GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)
               
                         
* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP
L    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
     and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P    And also with you.
L    The Lord is our rock and our stronghold.
P    God is our refuge and the joy of our salvation.
L    Steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
P    When they call out to God, he answers them,
     when they turn to him, he is swift to reply.
L    Exalt the name of God, for the Lord is gracious and kind.
     He heals the brokenhearted and gives strength to the weary.
P    Give praise to the Lord 
     for he forgives our iniquity and restores our soul.
     He leads us in the path of righteousness for his name sake. 


* PRAYER OF APPROACH
Let us pray...  Loving and Gracious and Powerful God - your desire is that
your people might gather together in peace, and accepting each another as
your beloved children, render you our praise and obedience.  We ask
forgiveness, O God, for those things in us that have caused us to become
separated from one another, for the fear that keeps us from embracing
others, for the self-righteousness that leads us to judge others, and for
the desires that lead us to  put ourselves ahead of others....  You, O God
are the source of wholeness and of strength and of lasting peace.  We need
you.  Help us to draw closer to you and to one another - help us hear your
word,  drink in your Spirit, and enthrone you in our lives, that your good
and holy will may done and our praise of your name be pleasing unto you. 
We ask it in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour.  Amen

          
* HYMN:  "Come, Let Us Sing To The Lord Our Song"                  - VU 222


CHILDREN'S TIME 
Theme:    Not judging by appearance
Object:   None
Source:   Based on a story by Father Max Bower, Kids Church, February 2003
          (www.grassroots.com.au/Kidschurch/KidsChurch.htm) 

Doing the birthday names is a way of our saying you are important to us -
important enough to recognize your name and to celebrate with you - to show
that you are part our family - our church and that we care. 

Now I have a very serious question for you.  Do you like everyone?  Do you
care for everyone?  What are some of the things you dislike about other
people???

Sometimes there are children at school that look different and they get
teased for it or left out of things (where I lived last the Mexican kids
were rejected because of how they looked and dressed).  We have no choice
about how we are born, and it is important to remember that our outside we
can do little about.  However it is our inside we can do lots about.  We
can choose to be nice or awful, we can say nice things or nasty things.

What sort of things do you think we might say about people that would make
him proud? (Discuss)

No-one likes to feel rejected, so we should treat others like we would want
them to treat us. 

What are some ways we can include people - to help them know that they are
loved....   (Invite them to parties, say nice things to them, show good
manners).

Jesus welcomed and looked after people that others didn't care for.   He
was kind and good to them - and  wants us to be the same.   He never judged
anyone by how they looked or where they came from or how they dressed - nor
should we.  

That is the difference in being a friend of Jesus or not.  Friends of Jesus
know that what is on the outside - how other people look - or whether they
are sick or not - is not the important thing.  What is important is what is
on the inside.   Jesus came to help us see that everyone, no matter what
they look like, deserves our love.  That no one should be rejected because
they  are sick or look strange to us..


PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER (SUNG)
     Dear Jesus, Loving God - help us to see everyone - the way you
     see them - to not judge others - by how they look - or where they
     are from - or how they dress.   Help us to treat one another - as
     part of our family - to be kind - to use our manners - and to
     love them as we love ourselves.   Amen.

     Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom
     come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us
     this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we
     forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into
     temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom,
     the power and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen


* HYMN:  "Amazing Grace"                                           - VU 266
               

TIME FOR SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS: ANNOUNCEMENTS
- Welcome and Announcements     
- Birthdays and Anniversaries      
- Special Matters      
- Sharing Joys and Concerns


TIME OF SILENCE & AN INTROIT FOR THE WORD  (verse 2 - VU 371)
  Open my ears that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear
  and while the wave notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear.
  Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God thy will to see.
  Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!


A READING FROM II KINGS 5:1-14
     (NIV)  Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. 
     He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly
     regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram.
     He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.  

     Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young
     girl from Israel, and she served Naaman's wife.  She said to her
     mistress, "If only my master would see the prophet who is in
     Samaria!  He would cure him of his leprosy."

     Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel
     had said.  "By all means, go," the king of Aram replied.  "I will
     send a letter to the king of Israel." 

     So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six
     thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing.  The letter
     that he took to the king of Israel read: "With this letter I am
     sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his
     leprosy." 

     As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes
     and said, "Am I God?  Can I kill and bring back to life?  Why
     does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? 
     See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!"  

     When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn
     his robes, he sent him this message: "Why have you torn your
     robes?  Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a
     prophet in Israel."

     So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the
     door of Elisha's house.  Elisha sent a messenger to say to him,
     "Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will
     be restored and you will be cleansed." 

     But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would
     surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD
     his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 
     Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than
     any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be
     cleansed?"  So he turned and went off in a rage. 

     Naaman's servants went to him and said, "My father, if the
     prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have
     done it?  How much more, then, when he tells you, 'Wash and be
     cleansed'!"  

     So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as
     the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and
     became clean like that of a young boy.

L    This is the Word of the Lord
P    Thanks Be To God.


RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 30 (Voices United 757) & Gloria Patri (sung)
              
     Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.  
     World without end.  Amen


A READING FROM MARK 1:40-45
     (NIV)  A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his
     knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean."

     Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched
     the man.  "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!"   

     Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. 
                                             
     Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: "See that you
     don't tell this to anyone.  But go, show yourself to the priest
     and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing,
     as a testimony to them." 

     Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. 
     As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed
     outside in lonely places.  Yet the people still came to him from
     everywhere.

L    This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord.
P    Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


SERMON:   "Cleansed and Restored"   (If you Will - 1553)

     Let us Pray - Lord God, Creator and Maker of us all, speak in the
     calming of our minds and in the longings of our hearts, by the
     words of my lips and in the thoughts that we form. Speak, O Lord,
     for your servants listen.  Amen.

It seems to me that there are two main things happening in today's Gospel
Reading.

The first is that we are called to see that Jesus, 
     much like the prophet Elisha in the first reading, 
has power over even the most dreaded of all diseases in the ancient world, 
     power given to him by God to show that God indeed speaks through him.

You will recall from the first reading that Naaman had heard from one of
his servants, a young Israelite girl who had been captured in some raid or
other upon the land of Israel, that if he only saw the prophet  who lived
in Samaria that he could be cured of his leprosy.

Naaman tells the King of Aram about this - and the King not only tells
Naaman to go to Israel, he also writes a letter to the King Of Israel
commending Naanam to him and requesting that Naaman be cured.

The King of Israel despairs when he receives Naaman and the letter he
brings from the King of Aram, saying, 

     "Am I God?  Can I kill and bring back to life?  Why does this
     fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy?  See how he
     is trying to pick a quarrel with me!" 

When Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his
robes,  when he heard that the King was afraid, that he didn't know what to
do or where to turn, that he felt powerless in the face of the disease and
threatened by the King of Aram, he sends the King a message: 

     "Why have you torn your robes?  Have the man come to me and he
     will know that there is a prophet in Israel."

And indeed it happens that way.  Naaman is sent to Elisha, and Elisha shows
that he is indeed God's prophet, by speaking God's word to him - a word
that led to Naaman's life being restored to him, to his being cured of his
dreaded disease.

And so it is with Jesus.  

By healing the leper who comes to him Jesus shows everyone who witnesses
the event 
- and all those who hear about it later
that God has favoured him, that God is using him,  
that he is one through whom God speaks and acts.

That is the first thing that the gospel reading tells us today.  Jesus is
one in whom we find the power of God - the power to give life, the power to
heal and to restore what no person can heal and restore if God is not with
them.  Jesus is one in whom we can place our hope. 

The second thing the gospel tells us today is more subtle - because it is
related to what happened in Israel when someone was diagnosed with leprosy
- and indeed it is something that still happens in our world today around
diseases like leprosy - and AIDS - and a host of other conditions that
frighten us:
     - namely not only were lepers placed in a form of quarantine so
     that the unclean, the diseased, might not contaminate the clean,
     the un-diseased, 
but those who had the condition were regarded by many as somehow deserving
of their condition, as  being sinful, as ones being punished for their
offenses against God and others people.

Lepers were isolated not only physically, 
     which made good sense at the time, 
          they were also isolated socially and spiritually; 
               - so much so that even now - today - to say that someone is
     being treated like a leper is to say that he or she is unwelcome in
     every way, that people turn their faces away from them, that people 
     refuse to interact with them, refuse to see them as part of their
     community, refuse to see them as a child of God who is as important
     and as precious as every other child of God.

Lepers were in fact looked at as if they were unacceptable to God, 
as if they were people cursed by God.

It is in this context that we need to look at today's Gospel reading 
and to take note of some of the details of what is said and done 
- both by the leper - and by Jesus.

First of all we see that the leper coming up to Jesus and falling on his
knees before him.  Lepers were not supposed to come that close to anyone. 

Then we hear the leper beg Jesus for something that at first hearing sounds
like a plea for a physical healing - but is in fact much more than that.

He says to Jesus - not - "If you will, if you choose, you can cure me"
He says to Jesus, "If you choose, if you will, you can make me clean."

In other words, he says to Jesus "if you choose, you can restore me to
normal human life - you can bring me back into community, back into a
normal relationship with other people; you can make me acceptable to God
and acceptable to God's people.  You can, if you want, restore my life,
make me able to go anywhere I choose and not have everyone stare at me,
everyone avoid me, everyone fear me, everyone talk about how unfortunate I
am."

And Jesus wills it.

First he breaks every rule about how one should protect oneself from
someone with leprosy
     and reaches out his hand and touches him 
     - perhaps the first time that poor man has been touched in years - 
and then he says "I am willing, be clean!" 

The story then goes on to say that "immediately the leprosy left him and he
was cured" and that Jesus then commands him to go to the priests have them
certify the leprosy had indeed departed him and that he is now "clean",
that he is now acceptable to all of society.

If you will, you can cleanse me.
If you will, you can heal me.

How about us here today.
Are you willing?

Are you willing to do what you can do.

Are you willing to treat those whom others reject - those whom others fear
- those whom others avoid 
     - because of how they look or where they come from, or what
     disease they have 
as human beings who are worthy of being treated like all other human
beings?

Are you willing to forgo judgements based on appearances,
     - judgements about those who have AIDS
     - judgements about those who are live in rags and sleep on the streets
     of our cities
     - judgements about those who come from Arab nations
     - judgements about those who are different in appearance and in
     background from us
and see them as human, 
- as people who are loved by God as much as you are loved by God, 
- as people who need your touch and your word of love as much as you need
the touch and the love of those who are near to you?

The King of Israel despaired when he received the letter from the King of
Aram asking that he heal Naaman of his leprosy.   He cried out in despair
and in fear - "Am I God?  Can I kill and bring back to life?"

And the answer of course is that he was not God.
But it turned out that there was something he could do
he could turn to God - to the prophet of God that was in the land.

We here today are not God either.

But there is something we can do to help cleanse and restore those who are
in need of it, - there is somewhere we can turn to find help with our
disease and afflictions.

We can bring ourselves - and others - before Christ 
     and pray for healing and pray for cleansing.

We can treat one another as we would desire to be treated
     we can love one another as God loves us,
     we can love one another as we love ourselves, 
     we can love one another without fear.

God was with Christ and gave him power over the most dreaded disease of his
day.

And God is with Christ still - to cleanse us and our world - and to make us
part of one family,
- to restore us fully to one another and to himself 
in life, in death, and in life beyond death...

Call on his name.  And do as he did.  Now and forever.  Amen.


CONFESSION OF FAITH:  "THE NEW CREED" (VU 918 or inside front cover)

     We are not alone, we live in God's world.
     We believe in God: who has created and is creating,
          who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, 
          to reconcile and make new, 
          who works in us and others by the Spirit. 
     We trust in God.
     We are called to be the Church,
           to celebrate God's presence, 
          to live with respect in creation,
          to love and serve others, 
          to seek justice and resist evil, 
          to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, 
          our Judge and our Hope.
     In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. 
     We are not alone. Thanks be to God


TIME OF TESTIMONY AND PRAYER IN RESPONSE TO THE WORD
     - a chance for the people of God to reflect on how God has spoken
     to them, guided them, and helped them.  


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE    (Our prayer response to "Lord, hear our Prayer" is
                         "And in Your Love Answer")

God of our salvation, we come to you, as the leper came to Jesus, longing
to be made clean; longing for healing, longing to be fully united with you
and with one another.  We seek peace, we seek communion, we seek assurance. 
Touch us and make us whole.   Lord, hear our prayer...

Loving Father - help us to proclaim in word and in deed your healing and
cleansing love.   May we recognise in the faces of those branded by our
society as lepers and outcasts the image of Christ and like him reach out
to them.  Help us to embrace those who lonely, those who live in fear,
those who despair, those who think they are no longer worthy of the care
and of the attention and the love, of others   and help us to confront with
your Word those who cause pain, those who reject, those who seek only their
own good....  Lord, touch our world and make it whole.  Lord hear our
prayer...

Lord, we seek cleansing and healing not just for ourselves, but for all the
world.  Hear now the particular prayers that we hold up to you for those we
love - and for those we would love better...  

We pray to You for.... BIDDING PRAYER.... Lord hear our prayer....

Lord God, mercifully receive the prayers of Your people. Help us to see and
understand the things we ought to do, and give us grace and power to do
them; through Your Son, Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all stand for the
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer of
Dedication

     Loving God, through Christ Jesus you have blessed our lives.  You
     continue to draw us closer to you and one another.  In response
     to your gracious care, we offer these gifts and the  service of
     our lives to you.  May your name be glorified  on account of all
     that we say and do.  Amen.


* SHARING THE PEACE: (We greet those around us with a sign of peace  and
words like "The peace of the Lord be with you".  This ancient tradition is
an appropriate response to the peace that God gives to those who hear and
do his word.)
          

* COMMUNION HYMN:   "All Who Hunger"                                  - 460
   
         
     COMMUNION PREPARE - Including Cleansing of Hands

     COMMUNION EXPLAIN - Our table, the table of our Lord, Jesus
     Christ, is an open table.  All who desire to receive from  it may
     receive from it.  Today following the tradition of our
     Presbyterian ancestors in the faith we will receive the body and
     blood of Christ in the pews.   Please take the plate or cups from
     the person who hands them to you, then serve that person - saying
     words like "The body of Christ broken for you" or "the blood of
     Christ poured out for you" and then hand the  plate to the person
     on the other side of you - who will then serve you.  A
     traditional response to these words of service is "Amen" or "And
     also for you".
 
           
COMMUNION LITANY
L    The peace of the Lord be with you.
P    And also with you.
L    Lift up your hearts.
P    We lift them up to the Lord.
L    Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
P    It is right to give God thanks and praise.


-  THE EUCHARISTIC PRAYER (Prayer of Thanksgiving)
It is indeed right to give you our thanks and praise, O God, for your anger
passes quickly, but your mercy lasts a lifetime.  Your purpose is ever
good.   Your desire for us is pure and holy. 

From the depths of chaos you raised up the newborn earth good in every way. 
You created us in your image - and when we turned away from you - you sent
your prophets among your people to lead them back to the way of life.

Through Moses you gave the law to guide Israel in the way of righteousness.

Your servant Elisha spoke your word to Naaman, and he emerged from the
healing waters singing your glory - for you restored him completely and
made glad his days.

Through all your works - you have shown us what is good and done what is
good to us.

In the fullness of time you sent your Son, Christ Jesus, to teach us your
ways and to touch us and cleanse us.  Those who turned to him you set free,
removing from them what defiled them and restoring them to union with you
and with those they loved.  Though he was killed by gloating enemies, you
changed our anguish into a joyful dance, raising him up and crowning him
with a glory that will never fade.  Now he washes us in your everlasting
mercy and pulls us from the depths, cleansed and healed, so that we might
run the race and receive the victor's wreath, our lives forever singing
your praise.....


THE SANTUS
L    ... and so, with all the saints and the company of heaven, we proclaim
     your glory, saying.
P    Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God of power and might,
     Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
     Hosanna in the highest.
     Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord,
     Hosanna in the highest.


- THE WORDS OF INSTITUTION
O Lord, accept our humble praise and thanksgiving for all you have done
through Christ Jesus - he who on the night he was handed over to suffering
and death - took bread and gave you thanks, as we now give you thanks O God
for this bread, and THEN broke it and gave it to his disciples saying "take
and eat, this is my body broken for you";  and who in the same manner, when
the meal was done, took the cup and gave it to his disciples saying "take
and drink, this is my blood, the blood of a new covenant for the
forgiveness of sins, poured out for you.  When you do this, do it in memory
of me."

         
- THE PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Father, remembering how in his dying he destroys our death and in rising he
restores our life, we offer you this bread and this cup.  Send you Holy
Spirit upon them and upon us, and make them to be for us the body and blood
of our Lord Jesus.  Gather into one all who share in these sacred mysteries
that together we may praise and serve you, forever and ever.  Amen
     

THE ACCLAMATION AND  MYSTERY OF FAITH
L    Let us proclaim the mystery of faith.
P    Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.
L    Christ is Lord of all ages!
P    Lord, by your cross and resurrection you have set us free.
     You are the Saviour of the world.


- THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ELEMENTS:   
     (Please take the tray from the person who hands it to you, then
     serve that person saying words like "the body/blood of Christ
     broken/poured out for you" and then hand the tray to the person
     on the other side of you, who will then serve you.  We will eat
     and drink at the same time after all are served.)


DEPARTING PRAYER:
L    Gracious Lord, we thank you for stretching out your hand and cleansing
     us of those things that separate us from you and one another. 
P    For the bread we have eaten, for the wine we have tasted, 
     for the life we have received, we thank you oh God. 
L    Make us one in love and service as we go forth into the world.
P    Help us to proclaim your healing and restoring love to all the world, 
     through Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen


* DEPARTING HYMN:  "Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace"               - VU 684


* COMMISSIONING:   In the power of the Holy Spirit, we now go forth into
     the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body of
     Christ.

                    
* BENEDICTION AND THREEFOLD AMEN
Go in peace
knowing that God wills life for you, a good life, a life lived in love,
  May his love make you wise and joyful,     
  may his mercy make you compassionate and kind,
  and may his strength sustain you and uphold you,  
both now and forevermore.  Amen


* CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                              - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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