Carrying away the soil

Today is Rain Sunday in Zimbabwe. We ask the Lord of the harvest to send us rain just as people of old went to the Matopos and other shrines in the country to make the same request. At the same time we are given readings that have nothing directly to do with rain but an awful lot to do with the Lord of the harvest.

Naaman, the Syrian, is cured of his leprosy and is stunned by the experience. He wants to shower Elisha with gifts to pay for his cure. But the prophet will have none of it. Eventually Naaman realises why. It is not Elisha who has healed him but God. His response is to take some of the earth from Israel home to his own country so that he can worship the true God on Israel’s soil.

Jesus too cures some lepers but they too are as bewildered as Naaman. Nine of them don’t draw any conclusions from what has happened to them. Incredibly, they take it for granted. But one, a foreigner like Naaman, does think about it and realises what it means. He hurries back and “threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” And there is the key.

There is a huge cyclone in the Bay of Bengal. The last time one struck the coast 5,000 people died. Now tragedy looms again. The relationship between man and nature – some will deny this but most now accept it – is skewed. We may have conquered leprosy but we are far from conquering all the scourges that threaten us.

The point of saying ‘thank you’ is that it creates and nourishes a relationship. If we do not say ‘thank you’ to the earth that gives us life we are taking the earth for granted. We are treating it like a bicycle or a computer – to be thrown aside when it is worn out. But you cannot treat the earth or the fields or the animals like that. They are literally our life support system.

And if we do not say thank you to one another and to God we are doing the same. Either we develop an attitude of gratitude to the earth and the One who made it or we perish. It is no good praying for rain if we do not respect the rhythm of the earth that produces rain. When Jesus cured the lepers 90% of those cured took it for granted. We have to do better than that.

We have to “carry away the soil” from our experiences. They are the ground of our gratitude and the seedbed of our growth.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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