Seeds: Narrative Lectionary Resource Naaman

2 Kings 5:1-15a

Matthew 8:2-3


More images & other resources:
https://preachingandworship.org/search/naaman

Kids’ versions of the story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuzMNR6MFb42 Kings 5:1-15a
Song and puppet show version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chUWkrcgdr0
Puppet theater version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpCVnUb6t_8
Lego Star Wars version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JQgGQUqGR4&feature=youtu.be

Readers’ theater script of the story for 3 voices: https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2013/06/readers-theatre-naaman-healed-of-leprosy.html

Prayer reflection on the different people in the story: https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2013/06/prayer-reflection-2-kings-5-1-14.html
Ways of retelling the story:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theperipateticpreacher/2016/06/improbable-emissaries-2-kings-5/

Naaman’s personal leprous disaster drives him to plan a trip to Israel, but this time not as conqueror but as sickened supplicant. But first he must go through the hoops of ancient channels of diplomacy. He asks his king to write a letter of introduction to the king of Samaria, the northern kingdom of Israel, to smooth his way into the presence of the mighty prophet, Elisha, fabled for his miraculous abilities to effect cures. The king of Aram agrees to write the letter, while Naaman prepares to depart, assembling a vast caravan of silver and gold and festal garments, stacked on numerous carts, guarded by a phalanx of his finest soldiers. No general would or could do less!
Unfortunately, the king’s letter, though intended to assuage any fears the Israelite monarch may have as he watches the general and his enormous train approach, instead terrifies the king due to its straightforward, though perhaps ambiguous prose. “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:6). What, shouts the king, tearing his royal robes in horror. “Am I God to give death or life, that this man sends me word to cure someone of leprosy” (2 Kings 5:7)? This letter, reasons the king, is nothing more than a ruse to start another war. Once I fail to effect the cure, which I surely will, the Arameans will think I do not care about their general, and will come at me again with force of arms.

[Another rendering of this part of the story from http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1747%5D  The message to the king is a bit like a medical referral getting lost en route, Naaman’s case is held up by bureaucratic twists and turns. Israel’s king panics when he receives the letter — how in the world is he supposed to cure leprosy? And if he doesn’t, will Aram attack again? Is this some kind of trick? Interestingly, the King of Aram could have asked for almost anything else, and the King of Israel would have figured out some way to handle it. But curing leprosy was not an option for him. Elisha, upon hearing of the King’s anxiety, tells the King to send Naaman to him.
Fortunately, the prophet hears that the king has torn his clothes in terror, and himself sends a letter, calming the king and suggesting that he send Naaman to him; that way all will know “that there is a prophet in Israel” (2 Kings 5:8). So, after receiving Elisha’s address from the king, and coordinating his GPS, Naaman heads toward the house of the prophet. He brings all of his entourage with him and draws up to the entrance to Elisha’s house, horses stamping and wheezing, chariots squeaking and creaking in the dust. And then another improbable emissary appears.
Instead of Elisha, an unnamed messenger steps from the house and announces to the great throng, and especially to the general, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored and you will be clean” (2 Kings 5:10). And with that he turns and heads back through the door. And Naaman is enraged, commanding that all the chariots and horses turn around and head for Aram. “Does this so-called prophet not know who I am,” he fumes? I thought he would come out with magic robes whipping in the wind, wave his arms about, calling on the name of his God, YHWH, point at my skin and cure the leprosy. And the Jordan River? I know the Jordan River; we have just passed through that muddy creek. There are fabulous, rushing clear streams in our own land that make the Jordan look pathetic! I will not stand here and be treated like this. We are not amused! We are going home!

[Also from http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1747%5D Being treated as a nonentity by rude or busy practitioners and then being subjected to strange and distasteful procedures — this is very much the stuff of life on the other side of health and wholeness. Losing his identity, becoming a number, and feeling foolish and desperate at the same time proved overwhelming to Naaman. How could he possibly trust the prophet’s strange prescription relayed through a lowly underling?
And still one more improbable emissary shows up in the story. Again, some servants (the third time servants have delivered the powerful truths of the tale) admonish their leader, saying that if the messenger had asked Naaman to do something really hard, he would have done it, thinking that a cure can only come through arduous trial. How much more should he do this simple thing, dipping his body into the Jordan? The general again listens to a servant, takes his Jordan bath, and comes out clean as a baby (2 Kings 5:13-14). This grand story is driven by improbable emissaries at every crucial turn.
http://professorhswaybackmachine.blogspot.com/2013/03/tales-from-bible-1955.html

Healing 3.png
Themes/Titles:
Not specifically mentioned anywhere I found is baptism/renewal of baptism, which my husband used preaching a first-person sermon on this passage many years ago. He notes that washing 7 times can be seen as reflecting the 7 days of creation ending with the new/re- creation.
My own take is heading toward who Namaan was. He is an example of intersectionality, which notes that we are not monolithic beings. He is admired, famous, accomplished as a military leader and he is despised, rejected, unclean as a leper. And yet neither of these apparent polar opposites ultimately define him—ultimately he is a person in need of God’s mercy and healing, which he receives—as we all are.

Themes in online resources include health care, power dynamics, the witness of the unnamed servants, healing, etc.
Looking for God in All the Wrong Places See http://www.patheos.com/progressive-christian/2013/06/wrong-places-john-holbert-07-01-2013.aspx?p=2)
*Can’t Buy Me … Healing See https://politicaltheology.com/trickle-down-health-care-the-politics-of-2-kings-5-1-14-maryann-mckibben-dana/
Holy Health Care? See https://politicaltheology.com/trickle-down-health-care-the-politics-of-2-kings-5-1-14-maryann-mckibben-dana/
Power, Humility and Healing See https://lectionarylab.com/2013/06/28/year-c-the-seventh-sunday-after-pentecost-proper-9/
and http://day1.org/7368-on_scripture_moral_leprosy_2_kings_5114_by_adriene_thorne and https://www.pulpitfiction.com/archive/2017/02/24/ep-21-seventy-apostles-of-christ-on-the-wall-or-proper-9c-ordinary-14c-pentecost-7?rq=naaman

The Mountains Are Laid Low and the Valleys Are Exalted See https://lectionarylab.com/2012/02/02/year-b-the-sixth-sunday-after-the-epiphany/

The Magic Pill/Your Part in Your Healing See http://www.bethscib.com/lectionary-reflections/magic-pill.)

*That River? See http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1204_

Prophet for All See https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/worship/lectionary-calendar/seventh-sunday-after-pentecost-year-c-2016#notes

In, Through, and Despite of Bureaucracy See https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/worship/lectionary-calendar/seventh-sunday-after-pentecost-year-c-2016#notes

Bodies/Embodiment See https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3833
Hymns
BOW – The United Methodist Book of Worship
CLUW – Come, Let Us Worship (Korean)
MVPC – Mil Voces Para Celebrar (Spanish)
SOZ – Songs of Zion
TFWS – The Faith We Sing
UMH – The United Methodist Hymnal
URW – Upper Room Worshipbook
WSM  – Worship & Song, Music Edition
WSW  – Worship & Song, Worship Resources Edition
SoG  – Songs of Grace
Hymns directly referring to Namaan
See https://hymnary.org/search?qu=naaman (See place below first 3 hymns where it says “View 22 more texts”)
Note: you can set the hymnal so that you see only the hymns in whatever hymnal you are using (if it’s on hymnary.org)
These include:
Namaan the Leper
There was Namaan the Leper
The Beautiful Stream (although apparently it wasn’t!)
Great Namaan the Syrian
Naaman
Wash and Be Clean
We Read that Leprous Namaan’s Cleansing/Faith is the Victory
Namaan, Go/ When the captive maid had told of a prophet
Jordan River Is Flowing By/ Would your heart be free from sin
Is there anybody here like leprous Naaman/Weeping Mary
The Cleansed Leper/’Twas Namaan the Leper
The Little Missionary/Abana was a river
Washing
For those listed on Hymnary.org, see https://hymnary.org/search?qu=all%3Awash%20in%3Atext
Some examples (titles are after final /)
https://hymnary.org/text/wash_me_o_lamb_of_god
https://hymnary.org/tune/wash_me_cleanse_me
https://hymnary.org/text/lord_jesus_i_long_to_be_perfectly_whole (Also known as “Whiter Than Snow”
Healing
At Hymnary.org: https://hymnary.org/search?qu=all%3Aheal%20in%3Atext
https://hymnary.org/text/wounded_world_that_cries_for_healing

Teasers from other sources
Geneva Notes
http://www.ccel.org/g/geneva/notes/2Kings/5.html
2Ki 5:11
5:11 But Naaman was {f} wroth, and went away, and said, Behold,
I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and
call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand
over the place, and recover the leper.

(f) Man’s reason murmurs when it considers only the signs
and outward things, and has no regard for the word of
God, which is contained there.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc2.iiKi.vi.html
Note, the methods prescribed for the healing of the leprosy of sin are so plain that we are utterly inexcusable if we do not observe them. It is but, “Believe, and be saved”—”Repent, and be pardoned”—”Wash, and be clean.”

http://day1.org/7368-on_scripture_moral_leprosy_2_kings_5114_by_adriene_thorne

Now the United States of America was commander of the free world. She was a great country, in her own sight and in the sight of others, highly regarded, because through her the Lord had given victory. She was a valiant warrior, but she had leprosy.
Ways of retelling the story:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theperipateticpreacher/2016/06/improbable-emissaries-2-kings-5/

Naaman’s personal leprous disaster drives him to plan a trip to Israel, but this time not as conqueror but as sickened supplicant. But first he must go through the hoops of ancient channels of diplomacy. He asks his king to write a letter of introduction to the king of Samaria, the northern kingdom of Israel, to smooth his way into the presence of the mighty prophet, Elisha, fabled for his miraculous abilities to effect cures. The king of Aram agrees to write the letter, while Naaman prepares to depart, assembling a vast caravan of silver and gold and festal garments, stacked on numerous carts, guarded by a phalanx of his finest soldiers. No general would or could do less!
Unfortunately, the king’s letter, though intended to assuage any fears the Israelite monarch may have as he watches the general and his enormous train approach, instead terrifies the king due to its straightforward, though perhaps ambiguous prose. “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:6). What, shouts the king, tearing his royal robes in horror. “Am I God to give death or life, that this man sends me word to cure someone of leprosy” (2 Kings 5:7)? This letter, reasons the king, is nothing more than a ruse to start another war. Once I fail to effect the cure, which I surely will, the Arameans will think I do not care about their general, and will come at me again with force of arms.

[Another rendering of this part of the story from http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1747%5D  The message to the king is a bit like a medical referral getting lost en route, Naaman’s case is held up by bureaucratic twists and turns. Israel’s king panics when he receives the letter — how in the world is he supposed to cure leprosy? And if he doesn’t, will Aram attack again? Is this some kind of trick? Interestingly, the King of Aram could have asked for almost anything else, and the King of Israel would have figured out some way to handle it. But curing leprosy was not an option for him. Elisha, upon hearing of the King’s anxiety, tells the King to send Naaman to him.
Fortunately, the prophet hears that the king has torn his clothes in terror, and himself sends a letter, calming the king and suggesting that he send Naaman to him; that way all will know “that there is a prophet in Israel” (2 Kings 5:8). So, after receiving Elisha’s address from the king, and coordinating his GPS, Naaman heads toward the house of the prophet. He brings all of his entourage with him and draws up to the entrance to Elisha’s house, horses stamping and wheezing, chariots squeaking and creaking in the dust. And then another improbable emissary appears.
Instead of Elisha, an unnamed messenger steps from the house and announces to the great throng, and especially to the general, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored and you will be clean” (2 Kings 5:10). And with that he turns and heads back through the door. And Naaman is enraged, commanding that all the chariots and horses turn around and head for Aram. “Does this so-called prophet not know who I am,” he fumes? I thought he would come out with magic robes whipping in the wind, wave his arms about, calling on the name of his God, YHWH, point at my skin and cure the leprosy. And the Jordan River? I know the Jordan River; we have just passed through that muddy creek. There are fabulous, rushing clear streams in our own land that make the Jordan look pathetic! I will not stand here and be treated like this. We are not amused! We are going home!

[Also from http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1747%5D Being treated as a nonentity by rude or busy practitioners and then being subjected to strange and distasteful procedures — this is very much the stuff of life on the other side of health and wholeness. Losing his identity, becoming a number, and feeling foolish and desperate at the same time proved overwhelming to Naaman. How could he possibly trust the prophet’s strange prescription relayed through a lowly underling?
And still one more improbable emissary shows up in the story. Again, some servants (the third time servants have delivered the powerful truths of the tale) admonish their leader, saying that if the messenger had asked Naaman to do something really hard, he would have done it, thinking that a cure can only come through arduous trial. How much more should he do this simple thing, dipping his body into the Jordan? The general again listens to a servant, takes his Jordan bath, and comes out clean as a baby (2 Kings 5:13-14). This grand story is driven by improbable emissaries at every crucial turn.
http://cep.calvinseminary.edu/sermon-starters/proper-9c/?type=old_testament_lectionary

Nearly everyone needs some kind of healing. It may be from physical or mental illness. Or perhaps it’s from haunted memories or grief. Yet while God’s people know to look to God for that healing, we don’t always get to choose its method. So we may not always particularly like the way God chooses to heal us.
https://www.pulpitfiction.com/archive/2017/02/24/ep-21-seventy-apostles-of-christ-on-the-wall-or-proper-9c-ordinary-14c-pentecost-7?rq=naaman
war vs healthcare
Interfaith relations/dialogue
How might we reclaim evangelism as a way of showing God’s goodness and not about getting more members?
Are we willing to accept the strangeness of the Gospel in order to be healed?

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