Second Sunday after Pentecost 2016 – Jesus heals the centurion’s servant
The reading (Luke 7.1-10) is a story of two authorities.
It is a story of two very different authorities –
Two very different powers
One such authority was that of the centurion,
Representative of a powerful imperium which moved the world.
Such an authority uses very few words, spoken in a multitude of ways
And people go and people come
And such an imperium especially likes the strong.
It likes the rich.
It likes those who have great intelligence and intellect –
the movers and the shakers,
the wielders of the sword,
and the wall street portfolio.
When they come and they go, things happen
Yet that imperium, that authority, that coming and going has very distinct limits.
And when it comes to the things that matter, that truly matter
that define life and human existence, it is very limited indeed
The centurion knew that…
He had a servant sick unto death
and nothing about his command,
nothing about his authority
nothing about the imperium which he served could do a thing about it.
For that imperium is itself set under the limitation of this world and death.
And so, that man sought another authority.
Sought out another imperium: that of Jesus
For He, too, represents an empire and a kingdom – one established on the cross.
And so this imperium seeks out the weak;
seeks out the sick;
seeks out those who cannot come and go on their own.
And should they do so, perhaps no one would even notice.
This authority likewise says very few words
spoken in a multitude of ways:
It says things like
“your sins are forgiven”
or “be healed”
“know the love of God”
“come to church”
“eat, drink, be washed”
“befriend because befriended”
And this imperium, and such words,
have no limits.
For they are the words of God, the words of the Savior
the words of the Forgiver and the Healer;
the one who builds up and cannot tear down,
the one who brings into the light and never goes into the darkness.
The Gospel text just read speaks of two authorities,
one small although apparently big
the other quitebig although apparently small.
The Gospel text just read is a story of an authority…
An authority which some of us possess, which together wer are served by,
and in some way, an authority which all of us ought practice:
to seek out the sinner, the weak, the lame, the marginalized,
or anyone, however powerful, maybe even a centurion –
who knows that before such things as sin and death, we have no power.
And so, we gather, and hear the words of the One who alone does.
What does He say?
“You are mine.
I love you.
I will never abandon you.
I am for you, and not against you.
Go. Go out the world.
Tell. Tell My Good News.
Come. Come receive my gifts.
Eat. Drink. For the forgiveness of all your sins.
Depart. Depart in Peace.
Let’s go home. Together. Back to Eden.
I am the Way.”
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
*Special thanks to Rev. Dr. William Weinrich who provided most of the inspiration for this sermon.