Summary: The Christian life calls for us to live our life respecting one another, especially those whom our Lord embraces in baptism.

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13th Sunday after Pentecost [Pr. 16] August 26, 2007 Series C”

Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us pray: Lord, through the power of your Holy Spirit, give us the eyes to see others as you see them, not in their limitations, sins, and shortcomings, but as cherished, blessed, beloved children of God. Give us eyes to see ourselves as you see us, not in our weakness, infirmity, and self-doubt, but as chosen gifted, responsible disciples. Bless us with your presence, and enable us to realize that we are a part of your plan for the world. Use us to bring your healing touch to those in need. This we ask in your Holy name. Amen. [1]

One of the reasons that I enjoy spending a week at confir-camp every year, is because it gives us an opportunity for Christian fellowship with one another in a unique environment. And by “environment,” I am not referring to the physical structure of Camp Lutherlyn. Although our camp does have some beautiful and inspiring outdoor worship sites, a state of the art dining hall, and some great recreational activities, the beds sure aren’t like the one I have at home. And the older I get, the harder it is for me to keep up the pace of all those activities.

Rather, the “environment” that I am referring to is the spiritual atmosphere that results from stepping out of “life as usual,” and striving to live our faith. The only time a TV is used, is for educational purposes in class. There are no radios or other media intruding into our day with news of all the violence and other perversions that our world seems to want to focus on. And except for the pastor’s need to be in touch with the office, there are no cell phones to detract us from the present moment. We begin and end each day with worship and prayer, and seek to learn and have fun the rest of the day.

In addition, there is an emphasis placed on caring for one another. We make a concerted effort to see that everyone has an opportunity to be included in all the activities, regardless of skill level. The use of profanity and terms of degradation are strongly discouraged, while saying “thank you,” and offering to help another are encouraged. In short, we truly strive to create an environment in which we experience living our faith in community with one another.

And although this is but one week out of the year, and even though when we return, it doesn’t take us long to get back into our normal routines of life in the world, I don’t believe we can overestimate the value of this week to our faith development.

In fact, Pat, who serves as a teacher and our resident guidance counselor, a job she holds in one of the Erie school districts, has stated that she wished every child could experience a week at camp – especially those who are on the fringe of the so called “normal” kids in school. For if we look at profile on the children who have struck out in violence against their classmates, one of the recurring themes is that they were often called derogatory names, were not always included in activities for one reason or another, and left to struggle to develop a positive identity.

According to Pat, “Every student learns something from this week at camp. The ones on the fringe can begin to see that people can accept them for who they are. And those who have been fortunate to have been accepted all of their life, can begin to realize what a difference caring for those who differ from themselves can mean to that individual. There is more than doctrine that we teach at camp. We teach people to live out their faith.”

This brings us to our Gospel lesson for this morning, in which I would like to paraphrase one of the commentaries that I read on our text. When Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, a woman enters, whose name is not mentioned. However, what we do know is that for eighteen years, she has had a problem. Some versions of the Bible refer to her as “the bent woman,” referring to the fact that she was unable to stand erect. She was most likely suffering from severe arthritis.

Here is a woman, who is immortalized in Scripture, not by her name, but by the fact that she couldn’t walk erect. She was bent over, and for most of her adult life, had been staring at the ground. She doesn’t appear to have a name, at least that anyone cared to recognize. When anyone saw her creeping down the street, her body bent, her eyes attempting to lift up from the ground, they didn’t say, “Here comes Mary,” or “Look, it is Betty.” According to our Gospel lesson, the important thing about this woman was not her name, but the fact that she was “bent.” She was a crippled woman. Even the author of our text makes no effort to come to report her name, only her disability.

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