Who Has the Wisdom?

Who Has the Wisdom?

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Rev. Dr. Sue Foster is pastor of the East Woodstock Congregational Church and author of Retreats to Go: Twelve Creative Programs that Renew and Refresh.
 

Scripture: 2 Kings 5: 1-14 (NRSV)

'But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, ‘Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.' (2 Kings 5:8)

Reflection: Who has the wisdom?

 

“Can I talk with your manager?” I asked the young woman on the telephone, more than slightly exasperated at her apparent cluelessness and non-helpfulness. I hoped that someone with more authority could offer some answers and resolve the problem.

Where do we turn for answers?  Who can guide us through the confusing maze of life?

In this story of Naaman’s sickness and suffering, it is the unexpected people – the ones who are nameless and overlooked – who possess much-needed solutions.  First it’s the young girl enslaved by the Arameans. She refuses to be defined by those who have taken her captive. Unlike her captors, she demonstrates a generosity of spirit and shares her knowledge and compassion as she directs his attention to “the prophet who is in Samaria” (v. 3). She is confident that the prophet Elisha can heal the afflicted commander. That young girl has the wisdom that the king lacked.

The king of Israel, on the other hand, is paralyzed by fear of failure. Despite his position of power, he can only visualize war and ruin. Elisha, prophet of God, trusts that God is at work. “Let [Naaman] come to me,” Elisha soothes the king, “that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel” (v.8). Haughty Naaman sneers at the offer. He yearns for the attention of the king and so overlooks the heavenly comfort exuded by Elisha.

Naaman’s refusal could have been the end of the story. But again, it’s the nameless ones who convey eternal wisdom. Naaman’s servants urge him to set his pride aside and risk being treated by a mere prophet. Do this easy thing, they urge, wash in the river and experience the cleansing power of God’s Holy Spirit. Sure enough, Naaman’s “flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy” (v. 14).

Again and again, it was the lowly, the overlooked, the undervalued, the unnamed people in the story who contained priceless wisdom for anyone willing to listen.  

The story makes me wonder – who are we not listening to? Who is being overlooked or ignored? What invitations to healing, peace, and renewal are we missing simply because they are offered in unexpected ways or by unusual messengers? What are we making too complicated? Whose voices are being silenced or ignored? What heavenly messages are we missing simply because we don’t recognize the messengers?

PRAYER

Trees clap their hands.
Sheer silence contains your still, small voice.
All of creation reflects your glory.
Sometimes angels sing and sometimes even donkeys talk.
Are we listening?
Help us to listen.
Help us to hear you, still speaking God.

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane at cochranem@sneucc.org.

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war
  • For those grieving or suffering due to mass shootings
  • For those families who rely on summer meal programs but may not get food because the Covid-19 pandemic waivers that provided school districts with much more freedom to distribute food to kids during the break were not extended
  • For those whose voices are being silenced or ignored

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For those who are generous in sharing their knowledge and compassion

 This Week in History:

June 28, 1969 (53 years ago): In what is now regarded by many as history’s first major protest on behalf of equal rights for LGBTQ people, a police raid of the Stonewall Inn—a popular gay club located in New York City—turns violent as patrons and local sympathizers begin rioting against the authorities. [History]

“Study the past if you would define the future.”
Confucius

suefoster.jpg
Sue Foster

pastor of East Woodstock Congregational Church

June 24, 2022
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