Happy May Day! Or, if you want to get all official, happy Law Day (since President Eisenhower declared May 1 to be “Law Day” back in 1958, celebrating the rule of law in America)... but somehow, that just doesn’t seem like as much fun to celebrate.
Or I could just say, “I hope you had a happy Passover,” since that just concluded this weekend as well. To celebrate that, we hosted Chosen People missionary Justin Kron, who walked us through a traditional Jewish Seder meal -- sharing an important part of Judaism with us, as well as giving us a solid historical and cultural background for that “Last Supper” that Jesus ate in the Upper Room with His disciples, and why He said, “This is my body...” and “This is my blood...” when they came together that night. If you’ve never been to a Seder dinner before, then let me strongly encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity sometime. You’ll never look at taking Communion the same way again.
Oh, and speaking of opportunities, let me make sure to invite you and any mother (or mother-figure) in your life to join us this coming Sunday morning for our annual, youth-led, Mother’s Day service on the 8th. It’s always a joy to have the teenagers show their appreciation for their moms (and for all of the adults who usually run the services on Sunday mornings) by taking the reins in a responsible manner and sharing their hearts for the Lord and for our church family. Please make it a point to join us, if you possible can.
This week, we continued our “Voices in the Wilderness” series and looked at my favorite story from the ministry of Elisha. Unlike Elijah, Elisha was content to pronounce miracles and judgments from a distance -- he didn’t feel compelled to be there in the center of the spotlight like his mentor had (which confounded his own servant, Gehazi, who kept being surprised that Elisha didn’t demand the respect that Gehazi just assumed that he was owed).
For instance, when foreign officer Naaman asked for healing, Elisha never even left his house -- he just sent a messenger telling Naaman that he needed to wash himself in the Jordan. Naaman was incensed that this Jewish prophet didn’t respect his own importance, and he went away angry. But his servants convinced him to at least try it, and he came away healed and praising God. And let’s be honest, if either Elisha or God had answered Naaman’s prayers the way that he’d expected them to, then he would’ve just gone away praising Elisha’s power instead of God’s power. So praise God when He doesn’t answer prayers the way we want Him to.
Gehazi then tricked Naaman into paying for Elisha’s free miracle, and in response, God moved Naaman’s leprosy onto Gehazi. In trying to “stick it” to Naaman the sinner, Gehazi became a worse sinner, suffering a worse curse.
Now, on one level, the moral of the story is to really trust God -- if you do, then you’ll be blessed, but if you don’t, then you’ll be cursed. And that’s arguably true. But the heart of the story is actually found in the beginning of 2 Kings 8... where Gehazi is still the servant of Elisha, and sharing with the king his honest praises of Elisha’s work. See, even when Gehazi suffered the natural consequences for his sins, neither God nor Elisha ever gave up on him. He was broken, but never abandoned.
So the moral of the story is that sinners should love God... but the heart of the story is that God loves sinners (whether they be prideful lepers from Aram or self-serving servants from Israel or messed-up people like you and me). He never gives up on you, and He never will.
So live out the moral, and be assured that God will live out the heart...