St Michael and All Angels

Observatory, Cape Town

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Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity, 20

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“Martin, Jesus and the dream...”

I speak in the name of Jesus the Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

“I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...’”

The excerpt that you have just heard is part of a public speech delivered by American clergyman and activist, Martin Luther King, Jnr, on August the 28th, 1963. Last Wednesday was exactly fifty years since this defining moment. This speech was delivered to over 250 000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during a March on Washington. It was a call for equal civil rights.

In today’s Gospel reading we come across our Lord Jesus Christ continuing His ministry in Israel. Our Lord is in the final months of His life as he slowly makes His way back to Jerusalem, criss-crossing the country-side, healing the sick, casting out demons and performing miracles. Luke records five miracles for us in his Gospel, and the miracle of healing we read about today is the fourth recorded miracle.

We are told how Jesus was making His way through a town while he was passing between Samaria and Galilee. When he entered this town he came across ten lepers who stood at a distance and greeted Him.

Leprosy was and is a disease not to be taken lightly. Leprosy is also known as Hansen’s disease. It is a chronic infectious disease that primarily affects the peripheral nerves, upper respiratory tract, eyes and nasal mucosa. The disease is caused by rod-shaped bacterium known as Mycobacterium leprae. People with long term leprosy may lose the use of their hands or feet due to repeated traumatic injury resulting from lack of sensation. If left untreated, it can cause progressive and permanent damage to the skin, nerves, eyes and limbs.

Jesus had a dream... to bring justice, healing and light to the poor, sick and oppressed.
Jesus wanted to make a difference.
Martin had a dream... to bring justice, healing and light to the poor, sick and oppressed.
Martin wanted to make a difference.

Jesus proceeds to heal the ten lepers. He also instructs the healed men to go and show the priests. Only one man turned back towards Jesus and fell to the ground overwhelmed by the glory and healing power of this Man. This tenth man acknowledges Jesus and that he is fallen. The healed leper wants to reconcile himself with God and renew his faith. Jesus instructs him to go on his way for his faith has made him whole.

Here we have an interesting parallel this morning.

Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, performs a healing miracle on ten lepers.
Jesus had a dream: He knew that he was the Son of God and that it was His calling to spread the good news of God’s love and healing for the world. He was not afraid to action His dream. He made it happen. This is what we call a realised mission as Jesus did not merely wish for a ministry but He made it happen. This requires discipline, faith, commitment and perseverance. It was not easy to be Jesus in Israel two thousand years ago... there were no paved roads, no modern tele-communications, an unfriendly religious order and an even more unfriendly host government...yet this did not put Jesus off from His dream of spreading the word of God to everyone. Jesus had a dream. He acted upon it and made it happen.

Remember Martin? He too had a dream. Here Martin found himself living in an unjust state where discrimination and unjust laws were the order of the day. “Jim Crow” laws had segregated public facilities, forbade interracial relationships, and created unequal employment facilities and even unfair voting criteria. Martin was a foreigner in his own country of birth. He could be arrested at any moment for civil disobedience. He was disempowered in his own life and society...yet he had a dream. Martin dreamt of standing up for his people who were oppressed and treated unjustly.

He decided to make a difference.

He decided to act upon his dream and speak out. Martin had the discipline, faith, commitment and perseverance in order to make a difference. His speech today has been ranked as the top American speech of the 20th Century. Martin’s speech hailed the beginning of massive social reforms in the USA that eventually ensured equal rights for all. He made a difference.
Both Jesus and Martin were fully committed to their ministry... no matter the cost. They both believed in what they were doing and in many ways we could say that Martin modelled his life on our Lord Jesus Christ. What is interesting to note is that both Jesus and Martin eventually lost their lives as a direct consequence of their faith and ministry. Jesus was crucified by the Romans and Martin was assassinated by a single bullet to the neck in 1968.

Both Jesus and Martin died for their dream.
Both Jesus and Martin made a difference in the world.
Jesus said...
“Arise, go thy way, thy faith has made thee whole.”
Martin said...
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
I am reminded of a quote written by Edmund Burke, who was an Irish political philosopher...
“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Do you have a dream?
Does your dream include God’s will for your life?
Do you have the discipline, faith, commitment and perseverance to actualise your dream?
May God bless you this week as you work towards actualising your dream to do His will in your life.
Amen.
 

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