Glencairn Methodist Church
Well, the year moves on. The secular calendar tells us it is summertime and holiday time for us in the northern hemisphere. In the church's calendar we are now in a longish period of "Ordinary Time" or counting time. We are counting the Sundays after Trinity until we begin to approach Advent and the start of another cycle of festivals and seasons which help us celebrate all the significant events in our Lord's life from incarnation through crucifixion to resurrection and ascension, and finishing with Pentecost and the gift of the Holy Spirit. In this long period of ordinary time after Trinity, our lectionary directs our thoughts more to living the Christian life, although the salvation of the world through Jesus is never far from our thoughts.
The Gospel reading for 2nd June is Luke 7: 1-10. It is the story of a Roman Centurion whose valued servant was very ill, and when he heard about Jesus healing the sick, he asked some of the Jewish elders from the local synagogue to go to Jesus and to ask him to come to heal the servant. The centurion was well liked in the neighbourhood and had even given generously to the synagogue - something rather unusual for a Roman army officer to do. Jesus of course answered the request for help and set off to the man's house.
But when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent some friends to say to Jesus, "Lord, don't trouble your self, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. I did not consider myself worthy to come to you. But just say the word and my servant will be healed." The centurion went on to explain his thinking. "For I am a man under authority with soldiers under me," he said, "I tell this one to 'go' and he goes and that one 'come' and he comes." And Jesus was amazed at the faith the centurion had in his authority over sickness, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel" said Jesus to the crowd.
The servant was healed without further ado.
The Roman centurions were the field captains of the Roman army, each with 100 men in their command. They fought alongside their men and were respected by them. They enforced strict discipline; well, they had to to win wars. The centurion sees the same leadership qualities in Jesus - a man under authority from God but with authority over others. He has heard, probably from his Jewish friends, of Jesus' exploits in casting out demons and in healing all manner of sickness. But he also sees Jesus as someone more worthy than himself. So he comes to Jesus in humility and reticence. He knows that Jesus only has to "say the word", and that he does not have to be physically present at the scene of the healing.
The centurion was not a Jew and not a close follower of Jesus, but yet he had faith in Jesus to answer his request - just "say the word".
Christians say that they "believe and trust in Jesus". We say that we have "faith" in Jesus, to save us from sin and from all manner of danger. Is our faith as strong as that of the centurion?
29 May 2013
NOTE - Previous "Monthly Messages" are archived at http://glencairn.connor.anglican.org/previousmessages.htm