Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"Working The Harvest"

II Kings 5:1-14,Psalm 30,Galatians 6:1-10,Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

July 4, 2007

by James Greene

 

In our sermon from Pentecost, we remember how it marked the foundational beginning of the church, and the beginning of The Great Harvest that is the work and mission of the church.In todayís sermon we see the dynamics of Godís healing, and salvation in our Working through The Harvest.

 

†††††††††† In the reading of II Kings is the story of Naaman who is a valiant commander of the army of Aram. This is about 850 BC when Ben-Hadad was the king of Aram which is in present day Syria (Fertile Crescent).Ben-Hadad was an Aramean.We remember from Genesis, that Abraham was identified as a ďwandering ArameanĒ. So in an ironic way, this could be called a family story, and involves the roots of Israelís history.†††††††

Now the name Naaman means: ďPleasantness, charm, or lovelinessĒ.This is truly a pun on the character of the man and the text.He is anything but pleasant, or charming in his actions or character.He is a typical A-Type personality.He is a warrior-leader and he only gives orders.Ironically, it is an Israelite slave girl who tells about Elisha the prophet.So Naamanís king allows him to go with money, his letter, and clothing, to ask the king of Israel to heal Naaman.

Elisha tells the king of Israel to send Naaman to him, so that he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.Naaman arrives with all the elements of his power: with money, horses, and chariots.

 

Elisha sends out his servant, telling Naaman, to wash himself seven times in the Jordan River, and he will be healed.Naaman wanted the healing to be done his way.He wanted the Man of God to come to him!†† Elisha sending a servant to tell him,

what to do, and where to go!He goes into a rage.

 

Arenít we a lot like Naaman in our personal expectations?Donít we carry a preconceived idea of what is wrong with us and how we are to be healed or to be saved on our terms?He is blinded by his own arrogance.

Finally, his own servants ask him the direct question: ďIf the prophet had asked you to do something great, wouldnít you have done it, to be healed?It is only then does he comply with his servantís instructions.He still is defiant in the way he follows orders.He only dips himself instead of washing himself as instructed.He is reluctant and defiant even in the face of being healed.

Havenít we done that at times in our lives, where weíll do it, but only if we have to, and weíll still try to heal ourselves our own way?Sometimes, we as a people are hard to teach, and it is even harder to follow instructions.

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God still heals us in spite of ourselves.He heals us not through people of power or super natural events, but through the actions of servants, and simple acts of cleansing.There is nothing complicated in the way God heals us and sets us free if we just take time to hear the instructions.

 

In the reading from Psalm 30, we see Davidís dedication of the palace.It also another view of Godís healing and salvation.In the light of the New Testament, we see the outline of the Resurrection and a view of the Second Coming with the bringing in of the Kingdom of God.The Resurrection and salvation is seen in calling upon God and our healing.We are brought up from the grave, and out of the pit.

Isnít this the way it will be in The Kingdom?Our weeping and loss will only last the night, but we will rejoice in the morning with The Resurrection.The sackcloth will be removed, and we will be clothed with joy.It is in and because of Godís salvation that we will sing and give thanks - forever.What could be more descriptive of The Resurrection and the joy of the resurrection, outlined here, where it describes the healing and restoring work of God?Isnít that what the Great Harvest is all about?This final goal of the work and mission of the church is being done during our time of harvest?

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†††††††††† The reading from Galatians, is the example of the Christian life.It shows us how we should carry each otherís and our own burdens.It speaks to us about sowing and reaping.How sowing to the flesh reaps destruction, and sowing to the spirit reaps eternal life.It is about how we should love one another in the relationship of the Christian community.

What is this talk about bearing burdens?How can we carry each otherís burdens, yet we are charged to carry our own burdens?It is about, staying the course, and not giving up or giving out, in our efforts.It is about our work in The Harvest of God, in bringing about The Kingdom, into the here and now.

 

†††††††††† In the Marine Corps we spent a lot of time running, and a lot of time caring all your gear, and wearing a pack.In a Platoon run everyone would run in step to a beat. As a group we ran 1 mile.Then, if you can run 1 mile, you can run 3.If you can run 3 miles, you can run 8.It is during this running, you come to understand the theological concept in the Galatians text.Because while running 1 mile or 3 miles, we would sing or recite chants to keep everyone in step, and in rhythm.Like the church where we were of one beat, and of one mind during the run.This encouraged us all, and helped us all to carry the burden, of finishing the run, no matter how long.It kept you from dropping out of a run, because, to stop, and start running again, causedmuscles to cramp.Then the running became twice as difficult.There is also social

and peer pressure, to have the mental toughness to finish.

Running, like working The Harvest, is 90% mental.You have to set a pace to hold on mentally, and not quit, or stop in the middle of the run.

 

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It is like pouring concrete, you cannot call a Ďtime outí with 16 concrete trucks churning away, ready to pour for the buildings foundation.Once the pouring starts, you have to, keep up with the work, until the last truck is emptied, and the slab is completed.This same concept applies to working The Harvest.

It is a group effort.We help each other to bear that load.It is about relationship in the community.It is about caring for each other and not giving up in the middle of the run, in the middle of the pour, or in the middle of the harvest.Our work, as the church, is the bringing of Godís healing and salvation to all people, and to help each other in the work.

 

In the Luke we see the beginning of the Lordís Harvest and Salvation in sending out the 70 apostles in pairs.This is what Christ was teaching.It is the beginning, it is the bringing in, of God's people with healing and salvation.It is his teaching and his declaration that,

ďThe harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few: ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves."

Here and in Galatians, is seen, the beginning of the work of the harvest.Jesus tells the 70 if the people listen to you, they will ďlisten to meĒ.It is the outline of the spreading of the Good News of The Kingdom.Just as the salvation and healing in the Psalm reflects the joy of the believers who have experienced the healing and salvation, so the 70 apostles experience the joy of the harvest in bringing healing and salvation to the people of God in the harvest.

Like the Parable of the workers where some were hired in the morning and some at noon, and some in the last hour, yet all participated, in The Harvest, and all received the reward (the coin) of salvation, because of their labor.

 

†††††††††† Just as in II Kings, God is the source of each blessing and healing, so is, the praise to the Lord, for his healing and salvation in Psalm 30.It is all about working The Harvest.Just as Luke shows us, God is the Lord of the harvest,Luke also shows how God leads the mission of bringing in The Harvest.The 70 Apostles go with their calling, in spite of the dangers and the hard work.Their focus and priority is their ministry.Like running 3 miles, is not just a requirement of strength, but is a requirement of a mind set, and a mental toughness, where we stay the course.We donít give up; even when it is tough.It is a mind set of relationship to, and with each other, in the work of the harvest.It is bringing in the Kingdom that is ďcoming upon youĒ, and happening through you.††† It is the rule of God through Jesus,

††††† bringing in His Kingdom.†††† It is the time for us,-††† gathering in of Godís people.

Now is our time,-††† working The HarvestÖ.

 

†††††††††† In the Name of Ö††† the Father,†† the Son,†† and the Holy Spirit.Amen

 

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