Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

The Difference

February 12, 2012:

Can't Keep Quiet
February 12, 2012
Call:   2 Kings 5: 1-14
Text:   Mark 1: 40-45
Read:   Psalm 30        (762)

This is a place for self examination, so
On a scale of 1-10, how honest are you?
Think about it.

Are you a "1":  someone who seldom tells the truth?

Are you a "3":  someone who generally tells the truth, but is not
                uncomfortable when he/she lies?

Are you a "5":  someone who regularly tells the truth, but who on occasion
                lies and who feels some pangs of guilt while doing so?

Are you a "7":  someone who only lies when under extreme pressure

Are you a "9":  someone who invariably tells the truth about important things, but on occasion tells
                untruths about minor things so long as they don't hurt anyone else?

Are you a "10" a person who consistently tells the truth,
but is willing to keep quiet
to avoid hurting someone?

Like the time a neighbor showed my mother a room the neighbor had painted a color that Mom thought
was just about the ugliest she had ever seen.

When the neighbor asked my mother what she thought of the paint job,
Mom just couldn't bring herself to be brutally honest,
Knowing that such honesty would hurt the woman.
who was very proud of what she had done
        and yet she couldn't bring herself to lie to the woman either

So Mom gulped and said with a tone conveying enthusiasm,
"It just looks so clean!"

I have suggested this "Honesty Self Evaluation"
        Because         I want you to think about how you would answer this question:
                "When you discovered the title to my sermon,
                Did it, even for a brief moment,
cross your mind to say something like
"Can't Keep Quiet"
"Wow!  Jim wrote his autobiography."

Of course, I have come to know this congregation pretty well and I would suspect that
        40% of you would admit that you had entertained such thoughts
        30 % of you would deny that such a thought had crossed your mind
although 2/3 of that group would be lying out of kindness       (or embarrassment at having been caught)
        20 % of you would deny having noticed the sermon title
and     10% of you would gulp and try to deflect
with the equivalent of          "It just looks so clean."

But, regardless of what you thought, I have to tell you that
        While the sermon is not an autobiography title,
        I am proud to fall into the category of the people who just can't keep quiet
                In instances like the ones in our scripture this morning.

Look at the Old Testament Story that called us to worship.

It's a fun story and one I enjoy.
It's a story that shows God working though the prophet.
It is a story with lessons about
About God's power,
About the fact that God's love extends beyond the Jewish community.

And it is a story about not keeping quiet.

From my perspective,
the hero of this story is the nameless Israelite slave girl
        who took the risk of speaking up to her master
                and suggesting that Naaman go to the man in Israel who could cure him of his leprosy.

Look at what Naaman, trusting this slave girl, did.
        He went to his king to get permission to go
        He convinced the king to write to the king of Israel
                A letter that frightened the king of Israel
        [Whose faith and knowledge pale in comparison with that of the slave girl]
        He nearly walked away when Elisha told him what to do
                (and here he was convinced to follow Elisha's instructions by his own servants,
another group of ordinary heroes who couldn't keep quiet.)

Naaman was cured
        His flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy
                And he was clean.

But if he hadn't been cured;            if his flesh had remained marked
If Elisha had failed,   what would have happened?

Naaman would have been embarrassed
        Embarrassed before his king
        Embarrassed before his servants
Naaman would have felt like a fool.
        He would have been angry
                "I traveled all the way to Israel,
I washed in the Jordan,
and nothing happened"
Perhaps there might have even been a war between Israel and Aram.

If this had happened
Would you have wanted to be the slave girl
        Who suggested that her master go to Israel to be cured?
        No way!!

But this girl's faith in her God was so great
        That even though she knew there was there was risk
        She couldn't keep quiet
                She had to testify to God's power.

I can tell you this
You can be certain that I
would like my voice to be like that of the slave girl
                Even if that meant that you might conclude
                That "Can't Keep Quiet" was the title
- not of my sermon -
But of my autobiography.
Because the slave girl couldn't keep quiet about her God
        The grateful Naaman couldn't keep quiet himself
                "Now I know" he said in verse 15,
                "that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel..."

But that OT story is not even identified as our text.

Our text is from Mark's gospel.
Interestingly, it tells the story of another man
Who was healed of leprosy
And of someone else who couldn't keep quiet.
[Mark 1: 40-45]

The leper
        Who like the slave girl is nameless
Had faith strong enough to be cured by Jesus

And afterwards, (Mark tells us) Jesus issued a stern warning
        To the man whom he had cured.
        "See that you say nothing to anyone..."

The man went out as he had been instructed
BUT ...

But the grateful man    "went out and began to proclaim it freely,
and to spread the word"

Jesus told the guy to not say anything about what had happened
        But the guy couldn't keep quiet
                He proclaimed it freely and he spread the word.

Now, what frustrates me is not the man's disobedience
It's the warning and instruction that Jesus gave to the man.
I don't like them.

I have trouble reconciling them with what we have come to call
        "The Great Commission"
Where Christ tells us
to be witnesses to, and to make disciples for,  him

We are expected to do that
        By not keeping quiet
        By instead telling his story
        By proclaiming that story freely         and by spreading the word.
Just as the healed leper did
        In contradiction to the warning Jesus gave him.

I have been brought up on that approach.

Now, the guy's ignoring the warning did have its consequences.
Mark notes that
"Jesus could no longer go into a town openly,"
He had to stay out in the country
People had to come to him from every quarter.

So, one can interpret that warning
as an act of self preservation on the part of Jesus
But to do so
        makes him seem weak or "wimpish" - even cowardly
And that is not the Jesus I know.

        The Jesus I know is wise
        The Jesus I know is forgiving
        The Jesus I know is gentle
        The Jesus I know is patient
The Jesus I know is brave
The Jesus I know is courageous
The Jesus I know is bold.

"Brave, Courageous and Bold,"
        Does that line sound familiar to those over 60?

It is a line from the chorus of the theme song to the 1950s television show,
                "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp"
It is a line that I heard as a child and a line I have never forgotten

Certainly I am not the only one here who remembers it

With some modifications,
(substituting "Galilee" for the "West"
And substituting "Jesus Christ" for "Wyatt Earp.")
it not only describes this side of Jesus
        But it can also be a prayer that we
Like the healed leper in the scripture -
never be able to keep quiet when we have a chance to fulfill the Great Commission by word and/or deed.

I'll tell you a story
A real true life story
A tale of the Galilean frontier

Galilee was lawless
But one man was flawless
And his is the story you'll hear.

Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, brave courageous and bold.
Long live his fame and long live his glory
And long may his story be told.

If Hugh O'Brien was a man of faith, I think he would be pleased with me right now.

More importantly, I think that Jesus
        Despite the warning that Mark says he gave to the man
        Would be pleased with me as well.

But then again, I think that,
despite the warning,
Jesus had to have been pleased with the healed leper.

For Jesus most certainly understood that
        for a person who is truly grateful for what Jesus has done
                His warning and His instruction
                Were impossible to obey.

The man in the scripture was so grateful
that he was prepared to risk the wrath of the one who had healed him,
        By ignoring the warning and instruction to keep quiet.

Now that is faith and that is trust.

When I tell you that I want to be like the slave girl
When I tell you that I want to be like Naaman's servants
When I tell you that I want to be like Mark's healed leper
        Even if it means you think my sermon title
        Would make a great title for my autobiography

I am being honest with you
        I'm not simply deflecting you with my own version of
        "It looks so clean!"

I hope that you too can't keep quiet
        About Jesus Christ

For he was a man who was brave courageous and bold.
And a man about whom we pray,
        Long live his fame and long live his glory
        And long may his story be told.