I am more than my Skin. (Read Mark 1.40-45)

Services of Worship Forums Minister’s Message I am more than my Skin. (Read Mark 1.40-45)

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    Appearances can provide a range of hesitations for many of us. Over the ages we have set up various ways of dealing with, treating, reacting to people whose appearance is less that acceptable to our public sensitivities.
    A leper was no exception. Exiled to a colony of their own, banished from the sanctity of worship and their blemished appearance denying them access to the presence of God, their glory was concealed and denied by the religious structures of piety and offence.

    True, it may have been done in order that they not be exposed to public humiliation or rejection, but the problem lay not with them, but with those who would humiliate and reject and claim a purity of their own "

    It is not to define others by the blights I sometimes see. The alcoholic is not his alcoholism; the addict is not his addiction; the person with mental illness is not the illness. We, all of us and each of us, have been created in the image and likeness of God." (J Phillip Newell).

    When Jesus is met by this leper who begs, who kneels, "If you will, you can make me clean," a whole world of issues arise. Jesus is a rabbi, he has authority, he has now got a reputation as a miracle worker, he is seen as
    an holy man, he is in both the place of the Scribes and the Pharisees and God. How then will he act? Will Jesus will? And, if he does what will that come to mean? What moves Jesus? To ask to be made clean has both religious/ceremonial as well as physical significance, this leper knows it.

    Jesus is willing, where perhaps others were not, and he makes the leper clean. Jesus' willingness comes from his very nature, this nature being the same nature that is God, pity. In earlier translations this word pity has also been rendered anger! Jesus was moved with pity/anger. Anger was an appropriate response to a devastating disease, especially one that leads to social ostracism. Further, he was angry at the purity laws that isolated this man from the community and from God. Maybe we don't need to choose between the two emotions, anger and pity. Pity and anger can intermingle.
    Inspired by love and anger, disturbed by need and pain, will we also heal?

    Grace and peace, James.

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