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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Pastor Nelda’s Notes

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From the beginning of Naaman’s story, we know a few things about him. He is a foreigner, a powerful foreigner, commanding the army of Israel’s enemy, Aram. Naaman also has leprosy. {{more:: Continue ?}}
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Naaman’s leprosy did not carry the stigma of social alienation in Aram. It is clear from the story however, that this leprosy is something that Naaman (and perhaps his wife) wanted to be healed.
An essential character in the story is the Israelite slave girl.
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She was taken captive and has come to serve the wife of Naaman. Though nameless in the story, her role is important. Her speaking begins Naaman’s healing. Though a displaced insider, she is the one who directs Naaman to the healing power of the Lord, the God of Israel, by way of Israel’s prophet. She is the initiator of hope. It is upon her word that Naaman approaches the king of Aram with a request to follow this lead toward his own healing. And as quickly as she enters the story, she quickly disappears.
The king of Aram sends a letter, not to the prophet, but to the king of Israel. In so doing, the king of Aram not surprisingly disregards to the word of the slave girl. The contents of the letter are accompanied by a small fortune, perhaps a catalyst for healing.
The letter drives Israel’s king into mourning, for he knows that God alone can give life and assumes that this is the king of Aram and he tries to pick a fight.
Elisha intervenes. When Naaman’s entourage arrives, Elisha does not see him but sends a messenger with the prescription for the healing. He told him to wash seven times in the Jordan. What follows is a give and take. Naaman is upset at the simplicity and the locality. Are not the rivers of Aram as good as the Jordan? Calmed by his servant, he follows Elisha’s prescription and is restored.
Naaman confesses, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel…” Naaman has been met and healed by the Lord in a way that leads to knowing. Naaman tries to give Elisha some or all of the fortune from the king of Aram, Elisha accepts nothing. “As the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will accept nothing!” It is the Lord who healed Naaman, not Elisha.
Naaman, healed from leprosy, has come to know the Lord is the only God. He pledged his devotion to the Lord. And, in the face of a pressing dilemma, the prophet does not forbid and perhaps blesses Naaman in his position as commander of the army of the king of Aram with all that this entails.
Perhaps this story jars “common sensibilities” about borders and boundaries, about who is in and who is out. What does this story have to say about how the Lord disrespects the boundaries that we humans erect? Surely, the boundaries that we place around God’s love cannot and will not hold God back.
See you on Sunday – explore 2 Kings 5:1-14.
“I don’t know how, but I know WHO!”
Peace,
Pastor Nelda
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