Advent Unleashed

Advent
Is the prayer
For justice
And healing
In the midst
Of impatience
And pain

It’s the cry of love
In a world of no

The grace of yes
Reaching out
To the whole of humanity
Without question
Qualifiers or pause

All Amens and Alleluias
Of Mary’s Magnificat

Feel free to share/adapt/use with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Surgery, A Prayer

God,
is there any prayer like going into surgery?
Closing your eyes to the world–
Holding your beloveds close to you.

Somehow you try to remind yourself to breathe

Is that how it felt Christ,
when you healed?

Did you hold their beloveds close to them?
And remind them to breathe?

Bless those undergoing surgery
their beloved
the doctors, nurses, and all the technicians, custodians, secretaries and support staff who we work too hard along the way

May we all be granted
Belovedness
and Breath.

Amen.

Operation Game with a lot of blue gloved hands around it

Image

Feel free to use/adapt/Share with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

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Speed Bumps–A Prayer

OK God,

Do I complain about this speed bump now?
The Covid standing in the way of surgery?

I’m taking a deep breath–of gratitude for quadruple vaccinations
And so few symptoms that I did not know

And thankfulness for masks

and frantic prayers that I didn’t infect anyone–and really that I didn’t infect anyone vulnerable.

And for a Day of Work that somehow came together in Coverage
really its a miracle, so easy that I feel guilty about how easy it was
I know you gotta be laughing at that one God
How easily we humans feel guilty, right?
(But I planned to be there and had been excited to see all the people and miss them)

But really, I long for deep healing
The rest and restoration that I could almost taste

The baby-sitting, rides, meals, work, set-ups, coverage, therapy, bracing

I really do not want a drop of it to go to waste, and the idea of setting it all up again is
Daunting
Wearying
Soul-wrenching

So I pray that you have this figured out already
Just like the Church Government meeting I obviously could not go to this week–what with the surgery and/or covid (that I thought I wanted to sign up for)

And so many other things as they go past that I thought, oh I thought I wanted to sign up for that, but I’m glad I didn’t because I realize now that I did not really have the time for that.

Ok God,

What now?

The wait for Monday is a Lot–
And this feels more like a speed bump to healing
It feels like a mountain, or a quest

I lift my eyes to the hills
the annoying, freaking have to climb them hills
From whom will my help come?

Fine it will come from the Lord my God…

But I don’t have to like it today.

Here’s hoping for surgery on the other end.

Amen.

Feel free to use/share/adapt with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Healing Stories

Psalm 40:1-5

John 4:46-54 [5:1-18]

Call to Worship

God we long to be Healed

We sorrow in the sickness in the world

God we gather together to pray

Come let us pray for one another to God

Prayer of Confession: God we confess that we would prefer instant solutions to our problems. We would like for everyone to be instantly healed of their illnesses. Remind us to take responsibility, to do the work, and to hold fast to praying for one another and to not lose hope. Help us when we lose hope or are tired. Encourage us and surround us with support when we are worn out we pray. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Hear the Good News: Jesus loves us and supports us, loving us into wholeness every time: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: God please heal us in the ways that we need to be healed, that are perhaps beyond our human understanding, and bind us together so that we can continue to love and support one another in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Hymns: I love the Lord Who Heard My Cry, There is a Balm in Gilead, Lord I Want to Be a Christian In My Heart, Lift High the Cross, Love Divine All Love Excelling

With Children: Talk about ALL the ways of healing: physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, intellectual, relational, natural (earth), individual, communal. Discuss how the healing Jesus has promised is way more than just one kind of healing and how fixated humans are upon primarily physical and then secondarily mental healing and how we might work towards other kinds of healing.

If you find my work useful, please consider giving to my Doctorate in Ministry in Creative Writing https://gofund.me/70a114f9. It is a “working theologian’s” doctorate where I preach, write and share my work with the world all at the same time. If your church uses my work extensively and could use a receipt email me at katyandtheword at gmail and let me know!

A Prayer for Healing A Brood of Vipers

God the whole world is sick

No one is safe anymore–

there is no sanctuary.

You know that we are a world in desperate need of healing.

God I don’t want to live in a world

where healthcare is on the bottom of the to do list

Where people aren on the bottom of the to do list.

And God, I want to scream like John the Baptist:

You brood of vipers, you idiots, you fools!

Turn around! Change!

Don’t you want to be on Side that has already won?!?*

Don’t you know there is another way to win?

One where we don’t fight over scraps,

but we care for everyone?

One where we don’t say, “Did they have any pre-exisitng conditions”

but instead we say “don’t worry we will protect, you, and feed you, and care for you!”

And like John the Baptist, and Desmond Tutu, and bell hooks and so many others–

I want to hold you accountable,

because in the end,

God wants us all to heal.

At the end of the long day of work,

When the sun sets and we look around to see who has healed–from hunger and racism and every single kind of bigotry, and Covid

I want to be there, and I want to see you there too.

I want to party with you in the Kin-dom.

God almighty knows it.

God you know we need this healing–

teach us how to hold each other accountable

without screaming or shaming one another,

teach us grace and forgiveness and reconciliation.

Teach us I pray,

because Lord knows, we could all use a party right now.

Amen.

Feel free to use/share/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

*This is a question that the great Healer Archbishop Desmond Tutu used to reconcile and convert and people (with way less anger I’m sure than it is used here).

Back to “Normal” A Prayer

Jesus, when you were born. A political and religious refugee in the midst of a religious apocalypse, in an occupied country, with no citizenship or even personhood to be acknowledged. Brown Hebrew child born in the frailty of a human skin, did you ever long for normal?

When you scared the, excuse me, BeJesus out of your parents and taught in the Temple, did you wish that you could have been a normal boy running with your cousins where your parents could easily find you?

When you preached your first sermon and almost got thrown over a cliff, when your cousin John the Baptist was arrested and beheaded, and as you wandered around with a bunch of smelly disciples who were really great guys but who didn’t really get it. Did you worry about humanity’s obsession with being normal?

When you healed on the Sabbath–taking the withered hand into yours, touching the forbidden flesh with your flesh, ignoring the precepts of the day. Did you think, but yeah normal is overrated.

When you reached out to the Samaritan woman and banqueted with the tax collectors and enjoyed the miracle of feeding thousands of people with meager faire, is that when you thought, in your anachronistic, asychrononius way that normal is only a setting on the washing machine?

I bet that when you told the storm to shut up, when Mary bathed your feet in perfume, and when you climbed the mountain to hang out with Moses and Elijah you really embraced that your normal is counterintuitive and counterculture and anti-institution land anti-nationalism.

I bet flipping those tables felt really good, Jesus.

So here is my prayer, that we don’t go back to normal, not really. Because normal saw a lot of wrong and a lot of idols and a lot of vanities. Normal was all about the have and have-nots and racism and inequity and cis-hetereo-patriarchy was the name of the game.

I hope we know, that THAT game is already lost. Because Jesus promised, has and will always win.

And there ain’t nothing normal about that.

Thank you Jesus, for all that you are, and all that you stand for–fix our fixation on normal, and focus our eyes on you and all that you stand for: equity, sanctuary, healing and love, we pray in your mighty name Jesus.

Amen.

More Pandemic Prayers

calendar but the as the return to wholeness, health and peace in the community ‬

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Standing in the Breach

Lord, I am not the beggar with a disability waiting at the gate of the church. But I understand their plight better this year. As I stand in the breach of church–trying to hold open the bridge between the world and worship. As we collect money for food pantries, and try to find ways for communities to meet and pray. I feel like we too are stuck at the gate of the temple.

Sometimes we are outside the temple, begging to get in, yet unable to pray.

Sometimes we are at the gates of heaven, barely breathing in and out.

Sometimes we are waiting by the side of someone who is on the cusp of death.

Lord, the breaches are gaping right now: the gap between rich and poor, healthy and sick, abled and disabled, the privileged and the marginal, essential and nonessential, the black and the white and the rest of the people of color.

Help us to be the disciples at the breach, fixing our eyes upon them, seeing not just their stated wants but also their deeper needs. Help us to to touch those who are stuck, and to take their hand and walk with them in the community. Even if that touch and walk is only metaphorical today.

Lord we know what it’s like to be in the breach.

Show us how to be the helpers, the healers, we pray.

Remind us that no help is too little, that we are longing for one another’s company, touch and presence.

Help us to be present and stand in the breach, we pray.

Amen.

Eastertide Resources

Peter Heals in Jerusalem Seeds of Prayer

Acts 3:1-10

(Mark 6:53-56)

Psalm 6

Call to Worship

Be gracious to me God, for my bones are shaking in terror.

All that opposes me will depart, for God has heard my weeping.

I am weary Lord.

The Lord will deliver me through steadfast love.

Call to Worship

Lord we long for you.

Touch our eyes, our hearts, our bodies & our souls

Lord we long for your healing

Touch your blessings on our heads, we pray.

Prayer of Confession: Lord, I confess I am weary with my moaning. I flood my bed with tears. I feel surrounded by evil and adversity. Every day brings bad news. But I know the Lord hears my supplication. Wherever I invite God, God promises to hear and be there. When the world wastes away, I know that healing awaits. I will wait for the healing touch of the Lord.

Assurance of Pardon: Lord, we know your healing floods out, a droplet of grace will save us. Hear the Good News In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: Lord, we cast our imperfect bodies before you. We give them on to you. We await the healing of the entire world, we breathe for the moment that the world is made whole. Orient us towards you and your touch, we pray. Amen.

Eucharist Prayer; As we touch the bread and cup, the body and the blood of Christ to our lips. Let us remember that Jesus came as embodied love. Fully human, he bore the scars of his death upon the cross. When we consume Christ, when we practice communion with his body, we re-member you, we start the healing of coming together. No matter how we are practicing communion, we are practicing with you and therefore with one another. Strengthen us as the body Christ, heal us as the body of Christ and empower us to be the body of Christ we pray. Amen.

Hymn: Balm in Gilead, There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit in this Place. O Christ, the Healer, We Walk By Faith and Not By Sight, Jesu, Jesu Fill Us With Your Love, My Shepherd Will Supply My Need, We Are Your People, They Will Know We Are Christian’s By Our Love

With Children: Talk about tools of Healing and How God continues to work with us as we try to heal (bandaids, medications, masks), Read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible No Good, Very Bad Day, Where the Wild Things Are, Beauty & the Beast

 

 

Rejected Sermon Titles: Jesus and the demons of our mind

Mark 5:1-20

Psalm 89:1-4

by Pastor Katy Stenta

“Legion: for We are many”

I think it is amazing that Jesus gets the man to name his demon…or the demon to name itself before Jesus expelled it from the poor man.

How many times do we need to name our demons before we can get rid of them? If it’s something that is (typically) smaller like jealousy or self-righteousness or something all encompassing like mental illness or addiction, so often we humans need to name a problem before we can even work on it.

And don’t we all have demon voices, terrible self-erasing voices in our heads twisting the way we see the world.

Whether they are the kind of demons that self-aggrandize (though I don’t think that is this demon’s way) telling us that we are better than everyone else, telling us we deserve more than others, dismissing others as meaningless, insignificant (or worse of all) dehumanizing them so that we don’t have to care for each other. There are strong echoes of the need for Anti-racists and Anti-Terf and Anti-Ageist work across the board. It’s the voice that tells us we are better Christians (or patriots or workers or whatever) and don’t need to listen to anybody else. Martin Luther King Jr looked towards the humanization of all people and basic humans rights, beyond the dehumanizing results of institutions and systems the include the church and capitalism and nationalism.

Or there is if it is the demon voice that points out every one of our anxieties and failings. It harps on our imperfections and plays our mistakes on repeat in our heads. It gets us to focus on all that is wrong with us and the world so that we cannot hear the voice of God anymore. We devalue ourselves, and can no longer see ourselves as the image of God.

Demons dehumanize.

They erase and X out our names and existence (Madeline L’engle covers this well in her Time Quartet)

When I hear the story of the man tormented by legion–even though no details are given as to how they are making him feel and act crazy only the side effects. When I hear he can’t stand still, and he is driven to live alone, uncleanly with the dead. When I hear that he is cast out as better to be with the dead than the living. I have no trouble hearing those doubting and harping demons in this man’s mind.

In essence that is what the Screwtape Letters is about. The demon has the human focus on the high pitch voices, the gum smacking neighbor and the squeaking shoe fidgeted until these people are no longer seen as community but as annoyances, and all of church is seen as annoying and there is no room to focus on God.

But when we name these problems in our lives, when we lift up our imperfections and sins for prayer, when we ask for support from others and talk about our insecurities. Then people can help us to name all that we did do that day, and how our imperfections are small compared to being a beloved child of God. They lift up that people care for us even when we make mistakes. And remind us of our friends and neighbors good qualities even when (especially when) they are driving us to distraction.

No photo description available.

Maybe then it is no surprise that Jesus restores the Gerasenes Man to his community. I do not think it is about if this man is good enough to follow Jesus, nor about his will to follow for he wants to follow Jesus. I think that Jesus has decided that to complete the healing, this man needs to be restored to his community–so he says “god back to your friends…” The community that hopefully can counter the years of bad and do a better job of nurturing and supporting this man. And I hope we as the church can do the same.

 

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?