Remove Shame – Cleanse the lepers: restore to community (part one)
What a great favor God does to those He places in the company of good people! -St. Teresa of Avila
God’s tending the garden of our soul sometimes requires isolating and eliminating dangerous weeds or pests that would choke the life out of the growing flowers. To protect the healthy, there are times when the sick need to be quarantined to prevent the spread of disease. Take leprosy for an example.
The person who has the leprous disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head be disheveled; and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, “Unclean, unclean.” He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. Lev.13:45,46
In Jesus’ day leprous people were allowed to go to the temple to worship, but they had to go in first and stay until everyone else left and they had to sit in a special space separated from the rest of the worshipers by six feet. A very lonely, isolating existence. Not their fault, just their fate.
This is why cleansing the lepers was high on Jesus’ to do list. He came to remove anything that isolates and separates us from a healthy community and life-giving relationships.
On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-17
Notice that these ten, outcasts of society had formed a community of their own, The primary mark of their inclusion in this group was that they were excluded from their regular family and society. Community happens. Jesus touches us in a way that allows us to leave the “unclean” community and live amongst the family of the “clean.”
In part two we’ll talk about the nature of a life-giving, shame removing community.
(This material is taken from the Shaped at the Garden Retreat. For more information about this retreat see the events page or contact me directly.)