Outward Embrace by Christopher Harbin

Outward Embrace
Christopher B. Harbin
2nd Kings 5:10-15; Luke 17:11-19: 2nd Timothy 2:8-15

Today we celebrate World Hunger Sunday. We embrace those in need around the globe with a show of God's love and provision. Alongside our tithes and regular offerings, we received funds to channel toward alleviating crises of hunger around the world. We picture hunger on the faces of beautiful children suffering through no fault of their own. We look at families suffering from drought, weather disasters, and oppressive poverty. We think of our own children, grandchildren, neighbors, and dole out a portion of our excess in demonstration of love. All the while, we think of ourselves and those we hold dear. Is not the gospel of Christ Jesus more than that? Am I willing to embrace an entire world in need, including those we prefer to despise?
Who did Jesus love and embrace, after all? Does the gospel really mean what it says by things like "Love your enemies," "Bless those who persecute you," and "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."? Are we willing to go that far with our offering God's loving embrace to the world beyond the walls of our fellowship?
We live with pictures of Jesus walking around the Judean countryside doing good and healing people of all sorts of diseases. We developed these pictures back during our childhood Sunday School lessons, looking at the teaching pictures our teachers used to illustrate the events recorded in the gospel accounts. The gospel writers often had other thoughts in mind. Our pictures often don't do justice to the import of their record. Luke seems to go out of his way to record only some of Jesus' healings-the more controversial ones.
Today's reading begins with the innocuous account of Jesus healing a group of lepers. We hear that he is in a region between Samaria and Galilee, but that hardly seems important to the story-until the end, that is. Everything goes along according to the standard expectatio ...


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