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Epiphany 6 | Ordinary Time 6, Cycle B

“Lord God, mercifully receive the prayers of your people. Help us to see and understand the things we ought to do, and give us grace and power to do them; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
It is in the portions of The Prayer of the Day for this Sunday that are italicized above that we see the unifying factor in the four texts selected for this day. Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Syria, needed help from the Lord God through Naaman’s own servants before he could understand the things that he should do in the cleansing of his body from leprosy in the 2 Kings 5:1-14 Elisha story.

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  • SermonSuite Special
     
    SermonSuite
    Chris Keating
    Ebola 2014: A Test of the Heart
    1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46

    Fears of the Ebola virus spreading across the United States are creating worries for many. But for nurses like 26-year-old Nina Pham, the battle against the disease is proving to be a true test of the heart.
         Pham -- the first health care worker in the United States to be diagnosed with Ebola -- had been part of the care team for Thomas Duncan, who died on October 8, 2014. Pham was initially treated at the hospital where she works, but was then transferred from Dallas to an isolation unit at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
         She’s a nurse, a 2010 graduate of Texas Christian University. As a medical practitioner, Pham was among the first to respond to Ebola in the United States, embodying the spirit of Paul’s metaphor in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 -- gently, deeply, and devotedly caring for Duncan. Like Amber Joy Vinson, the second nurse to be diagnosed with the virus, it’s possible that Pham provided care for Duncan with less than optimal preparations or protocols.
         In either case, what is true is that both Vinson and Pham approached their work as a calling. As Paul says, “we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children.” Nurses and health care workers treating Ebola patients face the greatest risks of exposure to the disease -- a single drop of an Ebola patient’s blood can contain nearly a half a billion viral particles. It is risky work, especially since health care providers are regularly exposed to a patient’s bodily fluids.
         Instead of fear, Pham approached her nursing duties as a calling, fulfilling Jesus’ admonition to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Like Vinson, or another infected nurse in Spain, or nurses on the front line of the epidemic in Africa, she understood the risks. There’s no mention of room for error.
         In a time of epidemic and panic, that is indeed a test of the heart....more
    Test ... Test ...
    Sometimes things happen that push us back to our deepest questions and force us to answer. A marriage breakdown, loss of a job, kids leaving home, or simply the midlife re-evaluation that all of us go through -- any of these can push us back to asking what it's all about, what we really want in our lives, what matters and what doesn't ... what we want our life to count for.
         Sometimes the question gets asked more directly. An Islamic family moves in down the street, and their children ask your children what they believe. You become friends with a Buddhist coworker, and find yourself deeply impressed with the quality of his or her life, and wondering if that is available in your own tradition. The local Jehovah's Witness buttonholes you and you wish you could put into words what it is you believe....more
    Sandra Herrmann
    Endings and Transitions
    As we approach the end of the year and the days get shorter and darker, many people have a difficult emotional time. That's why so many societies worldwide have celebrations during this season that feature light and put the emphasis on celebration. The secular world celebrates Halloween, while the Christian church celebrates the lives of those who have gone before us in the faith. In the United States this is followed by Thanksgiving and then the Christmas (shopping) season. But it is good to talk about those things that we are trying to avoid: darkness and our fear of change. Today's scriptures talk about the death of Moses, the separation of those who have been blood or spiritual family, and the end of things....more
    Frank Ramirez
    Within Sight of the Promised Land
    Deuteronomy 34:1-12

    He was there at the creation of the new age. When others mocked at the idea, he spoke and wrote and argued as a true believer and finally convinced others. Having left the land of his birth he wandered in the wilderness for decades stubbornly attempting to lead others beyond the frontier into the future. Having finally lived long enough to come within sight of the Promised Land he passed away without crossing over himself.
          Willy Ley was born October 2, 1906, in Berlin. ...more
    Janice Scott
    Encouragement or bald truth?
    We Christians, especially in the Church of England, tend to be quite good at making the best of what might be considered by some to be a bad job. On the whole, many of our congregations are diminishing, some small village churches have closed for lack of support, and others feel themselves to be teetering on the brink of extinction because so few attend services. This isn't a new phenomena, but has been gradually occurring over many years....more
    Cynthia Cowen
    Whose Money is It?
    The Point: God has given us rules on how to live our life.

    The Lesson: Good morning, children. Thank you for coming forward to share this time together.
         This morning I have brought with me the rules for how to play the board game Candy Land. Have you played Candy Land? (get responses) The rules explain what the game is all about. With the rules in hand we know what we can do and can't do...more

Author of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen

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