A crown's no cure for a headache.”
-African proverb, Kpelle Tribe.
2 Kings 5: Story of Namaan
The great Namaan has a personal problem. It’s embarrassing, but there it is.
Namaan has military power, success, recognition and wealth, but he is ill, un-whole,
at a fundamental level helpless to help himself.
The nameless girl, however, has the power of knowledge:
She has “holy know-how.” She has faith.
There are other more conventionally powerful people in this story.
The king of Aram, Namaan’s supreme commander, has power to release Namaan and power to influence others on his behalf. (thus the letter).
The king of Israel, in a communication snafu, and facing something he cannot do,
is feeling far from powerful about Namaan’s request.
Enter Elisha, “man of God,” who CAN change what needs to be changed
but …..who could evidently care less about using the proper diplomatic channels to do so. Instead, another child carries the message of healing.
Namaan, confused by the impropriety, is offended.
He’s gone through the proper channels, played the power game properly.
He’s brought the right gifts,
Presented himself in full dress uniform,
He’s ready to pay whatever the treatment’s worth.
He’s backed by the winning king.
So where do these Israelites get off sending a child as though Namman were some back yard neighbor being called for a casual supper in the barn?
As we listen in, we can’t help but wonder,
What do you really want changed, Namaan?
What’s most important to you?
Is it people’s attitude toward you or is it your actual condition?
We’re really asking Namaan what defines him,
his wellbeing or the way people treat him.
Can he tolerate this disordering of one for the reordering, the healing, of the other?
At the pinnacle of his power Namaan feels the peril of revealing his weakness.
He has so much power, so much to loose, that healing is obscured by the complications of power that he’s come to expect.
Do you remember who started the ball moving in this story?
It was the simple young girl of faith,
the most apparently powerless character in the story.
She was young in a time that valued the wisdom of age;
….enslaved in a culture that valued freedom,;
….female in a world ruled by male power.
What empowers the powerless to speak up? Faith.
What message does faith give? Come and be made well.
Back in 2002, the world noticed other young people raising their voices for the well being of others when their movement was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, the first time children had ever been nominated.
The movement’s founder, Gerson Andres Florez Perez was 11 when he heard of first one, then another child being killed by land mines in the eastern part of his country, Columbia. And so in 1998, during his school holidays, Gerson wrote a proposal for peace. entitled “Children For Peace”. 2,700,000 children from all over Colombia voted in a referendum and insisted that their basic and essential rights be respected. This act was named the “Children’s Movement for Peace”. As Gerson expected, the children’s voice had a huge effect. Soon after this vote, 10,000,000 adults also voted and demanded peace in Colombia.
How simple can becoming well be?
But how terribly, horribly, complicated we make it.
We crave attention as we already are instead of than well being as God knows we can be. (Which, if you think about it, is idolatry, my image, not yours, God.)
We do at the simplest level in our own lives.
What do you ususally say when someone asks, How are you?
What would happen if I answered honestly when I"m having a bad day? Are we afraid of what revealing our truth might provoke?
Honestly, wouldn't most of us rather be in the power position of praying for others rather than having others pray for us?
What might happen if each of us were willing to expose our woundedness?
But we want to give the world a strong face, we are imperiled by our power.
Gerson saw what the power of attention did to adults working with his movement. At age 16 he wrote, “Unfortunately the [peace prize nomination] made some of the adults who coordinated our activities to indulge in a passion to win the Prize ,forgetting to act with humanity towards the children. … At my young age and with my innocence,
I understood that for many adults peace is as good of a business as war, and that only when it is born from our interior will we be able to bring peace to our fellow human beings. I understood that true peace is provided by God, and that it is our duty to maintain it for the well-being of all humanity.
Power brings peril:
But humble yearning for the well-being God intends for the world is the most powerful force in our lives and in our world.
Psalm 30 (©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net)
I pleaded for help, LORD God, and you stepped in and healed me. They were nearly ready to pronounce me dead
but your brought me back, LORD;
you put me back on my feet when I was about to be carried to the morgue. So I’m singing your praises, and I’m encouraging everyone to do the same; to name you with joyful thanks.
I was guilty of taking your goodness for granted;
I thought I had it made.
You had put me on top of the world but I got all too full of myself.
You stepped aside — made me stand alone —
and I turned to jelly!
I realised how much I needed you, LORD,
and in my panic I begged you for mercy.
…..Give me another chance, LORD.
Please, LORD, bail me out one more time.”
And sure enough, you did, LORD.
You turned my tears to laughter;
you set my dragging feet dancing; .
…So now I’m singing your praises ........
from the bottom of my heart, ................and no one can shut me up! You are my God, LORD, ........and I’m eternally grateful.
 Written by Reinhold Niebuhr while at Heath Union Church, Berkshires, 1943.
Karen L Munson
United Methodist Pastor & Liturgical Artist