Naaman, a general for the king of Aram, was a great man and highly regarded by his master, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. This man was a mighty warrior, but he had a skin disease. Now Aramean raiding parties had gone out and captured a young girl from the land of Israel. She served Naaman’s wife.
She said to her mistress, “I wish that my master could come before the prophet who lives in Samaria. He would cure him of his skin disease.” So Naaman went and told his master what the young girl from the land of Israel had said.
Then Aram’s king said, “Go ahead. I will send a letter to Israel’s king.”
So Naaman left. He took along ten kikkars of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. He brought the letter to Israel’s king. It read, “Along with this letter I’m sending you my servant Naaman so you can cure him of his skin disease.”
When the king of Israel read the letter, he ripped his clothes. He said, “What? Am I God to hand out death and life? But this king writes me, asking me to cure someone of his skin disease! You must realize that he wants to start a fight with me.”
When Elisha the man of God heard that Israel’s king had ripped his clothes, he sent word to the king: “Why did you rip your clothes? Let the man come to me. Then he’ll know that there’s a prophet in Israel.”
Naaman arrived with his horses and chariots. He stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent out a messenger who said, “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored and become clean.”
But Naaman went away in anger. He said, “I thought for sure that he’d come out, stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the bad spot, and cure the skin disease. Aren’t the rivers in Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all Israel’s waters? Couldn’t I wash in them and get clean?” So he turned away and proceeded to leave in anger.
Naaman’s servants came up to him and spoke to him: “Our father, if the prophet had told you to do something difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? All he said to you was, ‘Wash and become clean.’” So Naaman went down and bathed in the Jordan seven times, just as the man of God had said. His skin was restored like that of a young boy, and he became clean.
2 Kings 5:1-14 CEB
Let's see, how many times can I preach on the same text? I wrote about how the entire text hinged on the smallest of voices. I also connected the Jordan to the Missouri. (This later one is very important to understanding where I'm coming from. I highly suggest you take a moment and read it if you are new here.)
I guess, for now, the answer is three, because today I'm at it again!)
This month is movie/book month. Last week we were introduced to Evan Dolive's new book: Seeking Imperfection. In the next few weeks we will look at The Aviator and The Giver. Today it's all about Cinderella!
My initial experience with Cinderella was probably not your initial experience. I grew up reading illustrated fairy tales that piled up in a wicker basket in my grandma's farmhouse. One of those fairy tales was Cinderella. It was true to the original, with the stepfamily having their eyes gouged out by birds and all. I loved the Disney iteration, but it was a secondary experience for me. Since then, I've seen multiple versions, each choosing to change it's own thing. I've seen the Hammerstein musical, I've watched the Brandy Norwood version which is probably the most multicultural adaptation out there. Yes, I admit to seeing Hilary Duff try to fit into the role with A Cinderella Story. My favorite is probably Drew Barrymore in Ever After: A Cinderella Story. Then so many others, I barely remember. As our cultural identity moves towards new understandings of equality, our view of Cinderella becomes more and more difficult to tell.
The piece that always seems to stay the same in all versions of Cinderella is the extraordinary has to come from the ordinary. Cinderella is the servant of her house. Everyone in the story, except her, can get to the castle in their own carriages, and wearing their own pretty dresses. In the Disney Cartoon movie, at first even Cinderella attempts to use these methods to get to the castle. She wears her mother's dress, and tries to hitchhike on her family's carriage. Of course, it doesn't work, and Cinderella is left to cry outside the house, all hope lost.
That's the way new church planting has gone for generations. Follow this exact path, look a specific way, and you will make it [to the party]. Only, so many are gently feeling nudged into new church planting, but there is no way they could follow the formula. Maybe, like Church of the Misfits they are countercultural already, and conforming will cause them to lose a piece of their unique identity. Maybe, like Jerusalem Christian Church, they are in the context of being a church birthed from a dying church. It's a context where there has to be much more intentional grace and love for what was. Maybe, like us, you have a minister who started her journey taking the traditional route, and discovered her dress in tatters; no means to get to the party.
There was a time I thought the journey had be taken by knowing the right people, and dressing the right way. That just isn't always true. Like Naaman, God can take the ordinary to make the extraordinary happen. It's possible, for a plain dirty river to heal a foreign lepar. It's possible. God can take shoestring and bubblegum and change the world. John the Baptist was a zany and fool, and he was the one who started the journey for Christ. In the end, it's not about having/getting the right things; it's about God being present with the ordinary things you already have.