Summary: A sermon about faith, worship and Christian service.
"Grace is Not Cheap, but it is Free"
In one Peanuts comic strip, Lucy who is in love with the piano-playing Schroeder is watching him play the piano--she's looking at him all google-eyed.
Lucy asks Schroeder, "Do you know what love is?"
Schroeder stops the music and says, "Love is a strong bond or attachment toward another, a decision to act in their best interest."
Then he goes back to playing the piano.
In the next box, Lucy looks at the audience and laments: "Gee, on paper Schroeder is just great!"
Is it possible for Christians to look "just great" on paper, but in reality, to not really be living out what we are called to do and be?
A friend of mine recently talked to me about his "home church" in Norfolk, VA.
He said that, when he was a kid, that church had a membership of over 1,000 people.
But mostly all it did was "Sunday stuff."
It didn't reach out to the community.
It was very inwardly focused, kind of like a club.
Eventually, the church lost members, and got to the point where it almost had to close the doors.
My friend tells me that the church is alive now.
More alive than it ever was.
It may not have a membership of 1,000, but they now have feeding events for their community every week.
They are known in their neighborhood as a church which is racially friendly, open to all, non-judgmental, and a place where people can find help.
My friend says, "That's what church is in my view."
In our Gospel Lesson for this morning Jesus comes across 10 lepers, and thus confronts those around Him with their worst fears and deepest prejudices.
Lepers were unclean, set apart, isolated.
They were outcastes who, along with prostitutes and tax collectors and beggars, had no place in the religious community.
But, outcastes such as these, were the focus of Jesus' ministry.
The religious establishment of Jesus' day was more concerned with who was "in" and who was "out."...
...who was good enough to be a part of their club and who was not.
So Jesus and those following Him are on their way to Jerusalem, and they "traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee."
And the word "Samaria" throws up a whole bunch of red flags, of course.
The Samaritans were a despised group, totally inferior.
If they could have gotten rid of them altogether, they would have.
What does our society do with the so-called undesirables?
What did Jesus do?
What does Jesus call us to do?
Are we doing it?
As Jesus entered a village, ten lepers--ten desperate people--come running up to Him begging, "Jesus, Master, show us mercy!"
And what does Jesus do?
He shows them mercy.
Jesus said, "Go show yourselves to the priests."
"And as they left, they were cleansed."
They were all healed.
They had all come to Jesus for salvation from their horrible disease, they were all healed, but only one of them "returned and praised God...
...He fell on his face at Jesus' feet and thanked him."
And this guy was a Samaritan!!!
Not only was he a despised and feared leper, but he was a hated Samaritan.
Talk about a double-whammy!!!