November 4, 2018 – “Uncommon”

Today’s text is from 2 Kings 5:1-15.

This day we come together as we always do on Sunday mornings to give thanks and celebrate the promise and hope of new life through Jesus Christ. And yet this day, this first Sunday in November we also come together to remember all the saints who have gone before us.

We come together to remember all those for whom this no longer just a hope or a promise – but instead a reality they now live into. The reality of everlasting life. The reality of healing. The reality of peace. The reality of comfort. The reality of joy and love through their shepherd and Lord.

And so for those of us still on our journeys we, too, look forward to the day when that same peace and comfort and healing and love will be our reality. And yet, those promises and hopes aren’t just for a future time. In our present reality we are each called and empowered to bring them about.

This very day you have been empowered and called and strengthened by Jesus Christ to bring about the kingdom of God amongst your family, friends, and the communities that surround you. This very day you have the opportunity to shine the light of Jesus. Today you have all the gifts and blessings you need to be a blessing to others. To bring about justice in the world. To bring about healing. To bring about love. To bring about hope. To bring about new life.

Because although the saints that have gone before us now live into the reality that is the kingdom of God – we too have the opportunity to bring about that same kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

In our reading today we see individuals bringing about the very presence of the kingdom of God. But they’re not the people we’d probably expect. Especially because our reading today from 2 Kings is full of powerful and privileged people. Kings, prophets, commanders of armies.

Surely these people – those in positions of power – the kings, prophets, and commanders would be the ones gifted and blessed to bring about God’s very presence. And, they certainly are from time to time.

But, more often than not, God tends to act in unexpected ways. Work through unexpected people. Change the world in unexpected ways. Because the person who begins the process of healing today – the person who creates the change necessary to bring about healing and new life – that person is not a king. It is not a prophet. It is not a commander of an army.

Instead, it’s a young girl. Now, if that sounds familiar it’s because in less than two months we’ll be hearing about another young girl that God called to help change the world. Except this time the young girl we hear about isn’t engaged to be married with her whole life ahead of her.

This time the young girl has been taken captive. A servant of the enemy. This young girl – an Israelite – captured and at the mercy of a foreign power. And yet this young girl – even after having been stolen from her homeland – even after having been forced to become a slave to a foreign enemy – this young girl shows uncommon grace. Uncommon mercy. Uncommon love.

This young girl knows her captor is in need of healing. Her captor: the one who has made her a servant and slave – her captor: the one who has taken her from family and friends – her captor: the one who shows her no grace or mercy – this young girl actively chooses to see this individual as a child of God. As a fellow human being. As someone she can extend the hand of grace and mercy and love to just as her God did when God claimed her as a child of God.

This young girl shows uncommon grace by telling Naaman that he can find healing within her homeland. This young girl shows uncommon love by letting her captor know that he can find comfort and new life in an unexpected place.

But, this is the God this young girl worships and it is the God that in due time will send his own Son to be born as one of us and dwell with you. It is a God that turns the world upside down. It is the God that gave everything to provide you with an abundance of forgiveness and grace and mercy and love in this life and the promise and hope and reality of everlasting life in the next.

It is the God in Jesus Christ that leads us down uncommon paths. The God in Jesus Christ that encourages us to not simply hope for the future kingdom of God, but to actively bring it about in our present lives.

It is God the Holy Spirit equipping and empowering you to be the light that shines in the darkness. It is God the Holy Spirit that calls you to look beyond race, ethnicity, nationality, language, culture, and every other way we’ve figured out to divide ourselves from one another so that we can see the presence of Christ that dwells within all our brothers and sisters.

This day you have been gifted with uncommon grace and mercy and forgiveness and salvation and love through and in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a salvation and love that carried the saints that have gone before us throughout their lives and it is a salvation and love and new life that they live into in the loving arms of their Savior.

And it is a grace and mercy and forgiveness and salvation and love that you are called and strengthened to bring about in this life. For while we know that the saints that have gone before us live into the reality of the kingdom of God – you too have been called to bring about God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.