Note: This is a transcription of the semon.
Welcome to the first week of Lent!
We have started the season of Lent. We started it this past Wednesday night on Ash Wednesday, and we talked a little bit about different elements, the main elements of the world, where we have the sand, the dirt. But then we talk about, we are dust to dust. We shall return. We also talked about the air.
The air that we breathe. And here I have an empty vessel full of air. Of course, air is all around us. And I just wanted to remind you that when we breathe, we’re breathing the spirit of God, the spirit of God that has made us and the breath of the almighty that gives us life each and every time we inhale and we exhale and sometimes it’s just great to take a deep breath, hold it for a moment.
And then just exhale. Just let all your cares and worries go when you take a nice deep breath. And so we remember that each breath we take is a spirit breath is the breath of God almighty in our lungs. And we know that our bodies need oxygen. We take it for granted like everything, and we know that our souls need the breath of God working to heal us from the inside out.
So we talked about that. We also talked about how we were dust, but we can be transformed. We talk about the sand and the sea, it comes from the erosion, from the mountains and the Hills and valleys that goes into the water. And we talk about what happens with the sand and then there’s pieces of broken glass and sand creates glass.
But then there’s things that we find in the ocean and you get what we call sea glass. And it’s tumbled around and tumbled around throughout the seas and oceans. And then sometimes it comes up on shore and then you have a beautiful vase here full of broken glass. And when you feel it, you can feel how smooth it is and how each piece is unique and different.
And sometimes the colors are different as well. And so it transformed into something beautiful. And then we also talked about the water, water that gives us life. And we talked about the living water that who Jesus is, who offers us the living water. And then finally we talked about what sand can also be transformed to with glass because in Jesus’ day, they learned how to blow glass and they can create beautiful pieces of art, something as special as simple.
I couldn’t do it, but simple as this beautiful vase. So that was a little bit of what happened on Ash Wednesday, but let’s get into what this Lenten season is about. We are taking time during this Lenten season to seek wholeness and healing from any brokenness we and or our world have experienced. And we do this by embracing the gift of Jesus healing ways.
We are Holy Vessels
Our worship series throughout this Lent is entitled. Holy vessels. It’s a Lenten season of recovery and while some of us are good at recognizing the sacredness of each person. There are times when we lose sight that we too are Holy vessels. We are created in the image of God and we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
And sometimes we don’t even want to identify our brokenness or that we are even broken. But we think about that. And so by using the images of sharp glass, the sea glass we can see the brokenness and sometimes the brokenness is inside us and we keep it inside and we don’t. Allow ourselves to be healed and made whole, but Jesus is the one who gives us life.
He is the one who can heal us, not just our physical bodies, but our minds, our hearts and our souls. He is one who can make us whole. So when we begin this, when we look at the beach glass, Here is something that is whole, and yet discarded it’s tumbled by the sea. It’s broken and Polish until it becomes a treasured mineral gem.
And we don’t embrace the suffering that is necessary as God given, but that’s suffering as he said as a part of life. And we know that brokenness can enter our lives at all different times. We’ve seen this, this past year with the pandemic. Sometimes it’s a surprise. Sometimes it’s something that we know.
Expected, but most of the time things can happen to us and we don’t always know how to heal from it. So Jesus is the one who reaches out with touch and reminds us of the treasure that we all are worthy of. Do life in the midst of hopelessness in the midst of brokenness, in the midst of pain and suffering.
Jesus is the one. Who can help heal us. Even when we have a pandemic that’s wreaked havoc on our world, we begin by affirming our journey to physical health because of Jesus. So I want to think about this a little bit. Has there ever been a time when. You felt left out of a group, especially like when you were in school, whether it be sports and you had two teams and you might’ve been the last one to be picked, or they say, well, we already have enough people.
We don’t need any more players. And you were left aside, or maybe you go into lunch in cafeteria and you go into the cafeteria and you want to sit at a table. Maybe there’s some people, you know, or some people you want to get to know. And then somebody says the seat is saved. Have you ever seen that happen?
So often? There are times when we feel isolated and alone and. Unwanted, because there are others that want to stay close to their own little group, to their own little click. And we know that there’s clicks. We’ve seen it all the time, especially, you know, in school, but at other times, and I remember when I was in college, one of the things that I loved was that I could sit at any table with anybody.
And they were just welcoming and get into the conversation. I was just so thankful that even if there are people that are hanging out together, you could go and sit at a table and they would still welcome you. And I like to think that that’s the way we are at church. Even if you don’t know people, they came in and you sat with them, or if you came and talked to them in the church, people would say, Hey, we are so glad you’re here. Tell us a little bit about, you know, whatever you want to share. We, you are welcome here. But that’s not how it always is.
Jesus Heals the Leaper
And in Jesus’ day, he, we hear the story about Jesus coming down from the mountain. If you’re called last week, we had the transfiguration. We had this time when Jesus and Peter James and John had gone up this mountain and Jesus was transfigured.
And so now they’re coming down the mountain as they’re coming down the mountain, there’s a leper who’s. Reaching out and asking Jesus to heal him. And especially back in those days, leprosy, wasn’t just the what’s known as the Hansville disease. It could be people with all sorts of different kinds of skin ailments and sores on their body.
But they were marginalized. They were considered outsiders. They were considered unclean. They were told to stay away from everybody else. And they used to have leper colonies. And I think there’s still some in existence in the world today. So it was, it was something that made them feel unworthy, made them feel that they weren’t even worthy to live.
And so people kept away from them and they were afraid of them and they didn’t want to get sick with it either. And we seen a little bit of that with our pandemic, right. Because it’s very contagious with the COVID-19, and people don’t want to get sick, but they hadn’t done anything wrong. All they did was get this disease and yet they were ostracized and they were pushed aside.
And so Jesus does. He heals him and not only does he heal this man. The leaper from his aliment but he heals him in making him whole, because now he can be part of society again. Now he can return to his community. Now he can go to the temple and make a sacrifices, you know, to the priest. He can pray in the temple.
He can become integrated back again into the fold. So it wasn’t just. A physical healing that Jesus did. Jesus help make him whole body mind, spirit, and had him be able to be back into living in the regular world, not ostracized and marginalized. And so we think about that, we think about how lepers they were labeled as, as, as people to keep their distance and avoid touching or being touched.
You know, you just didn’t want to touch them because you thought for sure that you would get the disease. And I want you to think as to have we seen any of this with the COVID. We know that there’s been a controversy as to how it all started. And who are we going to blame? You know, was the country, was it a lab?
Was it certain animals? What was it that brought this disease to us? And sometimes we also blame a victim if somebody gets infected with it, and then they go and see so many, or maybe they don’t even know they have it. Maybe they’re an asymptomatic and they go and visit somebody and then somebody else gets sick.
And then that person gets really sick and possibly die. If you recall, there’s been a few bus drivers, not just the public bus driver in Detroit, but some school bus drivers in the country that wound up getting sick from COVID they got infected and they also died. And we’ve also seen this with large gatherings where people were getting together and not adhering to the social distancing, the safety protocols, you know, wearing the mask and, and, and keeping that six foot distance or whatever distance they need to keep apart.
People just, you know, shoot it away. And yet some people got sick. So we’ve seen some similarities, but it’s a little bit different today. But there is so much isolation that we’ve been experiencing in our world because of the COVID. If you think about it, you had the isolation of the lepers and they were all.
Isolated, you know, because of their circumstances, we’ve seen some different isolation with the pandemic. We seen lockdowns, our building was closed for a long time and yes, we’re going to be open again in a couple of weeks, which is great. But think about this. I know people in retirement communities that if somebody tests positive one of the staff or whatever tests, positive, anybody who tests positive in that retirement community. They get locked down and they have to stay in their rooms and they can’t go out. They, they have to have their food, all their meals delivered to them, their mail, everything. They have to stay in quarantine for at least a couple of weeks. They go under what they call lockdown. So think about how isolated and lonely they may feel, especially when no one can visit them.
And then we have also seen a lot with our nursing homes and we’re hopefully now going to at least have people be able to go to the nursing homes once they get tested for the COVID doing a rapid test and then maybe one person at a time can go and visit their loved ones in nursing homes. And we’re hopeful and prayerful for that.
But throughout all this time, the people in the nursing homes have only seen the staff. They haven’t seen anyone else except virtually, and it’s not the same as having that face-to-face and that human touch. And we’ve also seen it isolated in the hospitals. So much isolation families have struggled. The ones that have been sick have struggled and the ones that are home because they can’t reach out and touch.
They can’t be with their loved ones face to face in person. And we’ve seen this, not just with the elderly. We’ve also seen a lot of young people. We’ve seen some young people who, um, have felt very isolated. If they’ve had social media, they feel so isolated and sadly some have taken their own lives. I want to share a story with you.
There was a, another clergy person that I knew who, has a daughter in college and the daughter was away at school and living in an apartment with three other people. And she got sick with the COVID. So she came home. Her parents fortunately had in their basement, a place for her to, stay quarantine to be there.
And instead of calling it the quarantine cave, they thought that wasn’t too kind, they called it a healing place and they want to open that up to other people as well. But here’s this daughter, she goes, she’s home. She’s sick with the COVID she’s down in the basement. Fortunately the basement has, facilities and everything else like that.
And the other thing that was nice was that the basement door had a glass window in it, so the parents could see her. Face-to-face separated by glass, but even though she could see them, she could only see them once she was feeling strong enough to get up to the doorway, to take a look at them because she was sick.
But even though she could see them, it was still that human touch that she was missing and she felt so far away. And the one thing that helped keep her connected besides all the virtual stuff with Facebook and Twitter and everything with her friends and her boyfriend was hearing her parents’ footsteps above her here in the clomp, clomp, clomp across the wooden floor and the dogs.
Because the dogs kept dropping their bones on the floor. And if you haven’t heard that before those bonds, when they drop, make a loud noise and that gave her comfort, cause that made her feel connected to her family, even though she was disconnected by this disease. But. Imagine all these people that have been isolated and how lonely they must feel and how hard it is sometimes even for them to get the courage to get better because they are so alone and it’s hard to be encouraged.
So Jesus is there. Jesus, is there healing a leper, someone who nobody would ever touch and yet Jesus does. Jesus touches him and heals him of his disease. Human touch is such an amazing thing. When we think about Jesus who healed this leper heal and not just the body, but made him whole helping him to return to society as well.
We also realized that. When we can reach out and touch someone. Oh, that sounds like a commercial. Doesn’t it reach out and touch someone right. When we can reach out and touch someone, it can make a difference that human contact. And I know a lot of us have missed hugs, you know, because we can’t hug one another.
Um, we, we kind of like reach out or I’m sending a virtual hug, you know, we make the signs for it, you know, but it’s, it’s not the same thing as that physical touch. And I remember a long time ago when our, I was having a bad time. One of the things I love to do was when my mom was alive. To go home and visit her and get one of those mom hugs.
My mom was a great hugger. She was really good at it and she just knew how to hug. And I knew that everything was going to be better and there’s some people who’ve never had those hugs. And so when they ha they don’t know how to hug, because they’ve never had that, that sense of, you know, it’s going to be okay.
And that’s what Jesus is doing for us. Jesus is reaching out to us and giving us a big, huge hug. Even if we can’t physically feel it. I want you to know that Jesus is hugging you and loving you throughout this pandemic. And for those of you who can still be in touch with your families, that’s great but for those who are alone, people who live by themselves, you know, they probably haven’t had any human contact and if they don’t have any technology, what do they have that keeps them going.
There’s so much loneliness and isolation now. So we, we need to figure out how can we continue to reach out with love and compassion and caring when we can’t touch, when we can’t see them face to face, what can we do? You know, we are getting the vaccines. You know, people are getting, you know, the numbers are going down, but we’re not there yet.
I know so many of you have been making phone calls and checking in with one another and I’m so thankful for that. And people are sending cards and I’m so thankful for that. Cause that means so much to those who are so alone at this time. And I tell you, pets are a great thing to have because pets, they they’re totally immune to it.
They have no idea what’s going on. So they just are thankful that you’re home and giving them a lot more attention and giving them a lot more treats, you know, that’s great for them, but they don’t understand that, you know, there’s a lot of things going on in this world.
So if we continue to embrace. Jesus’ healing throughout the season of lent to acknowledge our brokenness, whatever that may be, whether it be a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual brokenness, whatever it is. If we are willing to open our hearts and open ourselves to, Jesus say, Jesus heal me. Please make me whole, he is the one who can do it.
He’s the one who can heal our brokenness. No matter how afraid we may be, the diseases that are out there, the pandemic, the fear of all those people. So long ago with the leprosy that didn’t want to get it, that kept those boundaries and kept away from those people.
Those people, yes, we need to be safe. We need to maintain boundaries. But we need to remember that they too are a Holy vessel with God’s love inside of them, that they too are equally loved by God, just as we are.
So Jesus chose. He said, you know, I do choose be made clean is what he says to this person who had the leprosy. And faced with that request. And given the choice, Jesus is the one who chooses to say yes. And he says yes to each precious and treasured life recovered. Wholeness is offered to us to everyone and will look different for each and every one of us.
So, if you take a piece of, I know a lot of you don’t have this. If, if we were all together, I’d all give you a piece of sea glass. Um, but if you take a look at it, you can notice a worn edges of it and the color, you can feel a texture and the thickness of it. You can examine it as a treasure, knowing that is completely unique and embracing the fact that it is unique and that each of us, no matter how we are made are unique and wonderfully made.
Because God is with us and God created us. So when you think about your own roughed edges, think about what broken edges in your own life need. Help. What images in your own life, what broken edges in your own life need healing, and what will you do during this Lenten season to focus on the healing of your body, your mind, and your spirit.
Are you willing to open yourself up to Jesus? And say Jesus, I’m yours heal me, help make me whole amen.