nullPentecost 18 2019, Proper 23
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
October 13, 2019
Ruth 1:1-19a, 2 Timothy 2:1-13, Luke 17:11-19

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
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Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

In every city and every town there are abandoned houses.  These houses were once homes filled with families and love and laughter but now sit empty, filthy, broken down, and lonely.  These houses are the bane of their neighborhoods.  They are an eyesore, they are a blight.  They are in desperate need of restoration.

I enjoy watching HGTV shows about fixing up run down homes.  It is truly amazing to see the difference before and after the restoration.  One particular show is more extreme than others.  It is called “Good Bones” and a woman and her mother buy houses in Indianapolis that are in extremely bad shape and take them down to the studs and rebuild them.  They change neighborhood blight into the best house on the block and a new family takes up residence and makes the house a home and fills it with love and laughter and life.

In our Gospel reading today Jesus comes across ten lepers.  Lepers are not only afflicted with a terrible skin disease, but in the Jewish communities they are cast out of society and have to live on the fringes and when people come near they must call out, “Unclean! Unclean!”  These lepers were once part of loving families and communities, but now they are broken down and a blight to wherever they are.  When the ten lepers see Jesus, Luke 17:13 (ESV) 13 …[they lift] up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”[1]

Luke 17:14 (ESV) 14 When [Jesus sees] them he [says] to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they [go] they [are] cleansed.[2]

Jesus restores the ten lepers.  He brings them all back to full physical health.  One leper, a Samaritan, returns praising God and falling on his face at Jesus’ feet.  All ten lepers were physically restored, and this one former leper is also spiritually restored.  He knows that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, and he gives praise and thanks at the feet of God.  Luke 17:19 (ESV) 19 And [Jesus says] to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” [3]  True wellness is the knowledge that Jesus is God for you.

This leper is restored physically and spiritually.  He has new life.  He has the Holy Spirit dwelling within him.  His body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  He is full of life; eternal life.  Jesus fully restores this man.

Jesus is still in the restoration business.  Not of rundown homes, but of rundown people, and there is a world full of rundown people.  There are so many lonely, hurting people in this world; so many isolated and alone.

There is the man who sits by himself in his apartment watching television and scrolling through Twitter and Facebook.  He is connected to people all over the world and yet he is agonizingly alone.

There are prisoners who are in a dorm block with 39 other men and yet are absolutely isolated.

There is the older woman who was once very active in life and now only leaves her home to go to doctors’ appointments.

There is the young mother caring for her children who longs for an adult conversation.

There is the student who is surrounded by others at school but does not have a close, trusted friend and is very alone in the crowd of people.

There is the young person away from home for the first time at college.

There is the addict who thinks everyone is judging her.

There are so many with secret sins and grave doubts that they are afraid to share with anyone and they find themselves very much alone.  The devil uses this isolation and loneliness as a tool of despair and destruction to separate you from the source of life.

Because you know that feeling of isolation and loneliness.  You have experienced it yourself.  You are by nature sinful and unclean.  You’ve been that hurting person with shameful secrets that you do not want to see the light of day.  You have been broken down.  You have been that one who is a blight to others.  Praise God, Jesus is in the restoration business.

The 10 lepers were unclean.  They were cast out from normal society and had to live along the margins.  Jesus cleanses them.  Jesus restores them.

You are, by nature, sinful and unclean, and today you come into Jesus’ presence and he restores you.  In your daily remembrance of your baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, you die to sin and rise to new life.  Jesus takes your darkness, your shame, your guilt, the filth of your sin.  He takes all that away and He washes you clean.  You are washed clean in the waters of Holy Baptism.  You are washed clean in Jesus’ words of forgiveness.  Jesus’ touch heals you as He gives you His body and His blood.  Jesus restores you and fills you with the Holy Spirit and welcomes you into community with Him and with your fellow followers of Jesus.

Jesus is in the business of restoration.  Each week you go out into the world to fulfill your various vocations and you get beat up and run down by the devil, the world and your own sinful flesh.  And so you come here on Sunday morning to be restored; to be forgiven; to be cleansed and connected to the community.

Today we welcome little Walter Fonner in the waters of Holy Baptism and we welcome many new members to God’s Church here at Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hamilton, Ohio.  As we welcome new members into our midst; into our family, we promise to care for them and they promise to care for us.  We are in this together.  We are being restored together.  You all care for one another in many and various ways already, and I urge you to seek new ways to connect to each other and care for one another.  Continue to get to know each other.  Be intentional about introducing yourself to someone you don’t know.  Come to breakfast on Sunday morning at 9:15 AM and stay for a Bible class and Sunday School at 9:45 AM.  Once in a while go to the other service.  8:00 AM folks attend the 10:45 AM service.  10:45 AM folks get up early and come to the 8:00 AM service.  Meet your brothers and sisters in Christ who you may never have met.  You may be a lifelong member at Immanuel and folks at the other service will think you are a visitor.

Be the conduit to bring others into Jesus’ restoring care.  Consider in your day-to-day life people who may be lonely and disconnected.  Reach out to them to invite them to come with you on Sunday morning to be restored by Jesus and connected to the Body of Christ here in this place.  Think of those who are part of this fellowship that you haven’t seen for a while.  Drop them a note.  Give them a call.  Reach out and invite them to return to this place of restoration.

And when you see an abandoned house, run down and needing repair, think about the restoration God has done to you.  In Christ, God has taken you from being a broken down sinner deserving death and hell to being a saint of God destined for eternal life in the heavenly city.  You have been restored and you are marked by Christ for complete restoration on the last day when the dead will be raised in perfection to dwell in the presence of God, forever.

Amen


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

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