Sermon in a nutshell: “New Life is Possible” (Leviticus 14:1-9)
New Life is Possible!
I watched a TV show called America’s Got Talent. There was a woman who was depressed and who had an anxiety disorder. She could not get out of her room and meet people. She thought she was useless and helpless. However, with the help of medication and the love of her parents, she mustered her courage and came to the show and sang a song. People gave her a standing ovation and praise! Judges gave her unanimous pass to the next round. To her, the appearance on the show itself was a miracle. Now a new life was opened to her! Truly a new life is possible.
What is needed for a person to start a new life?
- Someone must keep a relationship with that person and bring the priest to them.
There must some people who encouraged the woman to be a part of the TV show. Either parents or friends who had a close relationship with her must have done the job.
The Bible also says that there should be someone who brings the person to the priest and the priest must go out of the camp and make an examination of the leprous person who lived outside of the congregation (vv.1-2). Because some people had compassion for them and maintained a relationship with them, they found out that it made a difference in the lives of the lepers. Now they took the initiative and contacted the priest. This role can be taken by Steven Ministers, Small Group leaders, or any member of the church. Are you the one who keeps the relationship with those who quit coming to church?
- We do not heal them but God does. We just share the Good News.
In the Steven Ministry training, we say, “We do not cure the care receivers but care for them.” God alone can cure people. We can care for them. In the Bible, the job of the person who brings the priest to the patient and of the priest is not “curing” but “caring.” They just observe and share the good news that God has cured them completely!
The TV show, America’s Got Talent, did not cure the participant that night. The audience and judges were witnesses and celebrated with her. God gave her courage to come out of her bedroom and to sing in front of hundreds of people. While she was singing she experienced healing. God cured her.
- We need some tangible symbols to share the message of healing power.
We can pronounce the cure by words. However, God wants us to use some tangible symbols for celebration. In the Bible the priest uses four elements – two birds, cedar wood, crimson yarn, and hyssop. One of the birds is freed and one bird is sacrificed. That shows the reality that someone has to make a sacrifice for someone to have a new life. In the TV show I could feel the sacrifice that the parents made for their daughter. In the Bible, it was the one innocent bird that died and shed blood. This ultimately symbolizes the sacrifice of Jesus. Cedar wood is used in the Bible to ward off evil power while hyssop is used to grant a clean heart. Together, cedar wood and hyssop would bring in clean hearts and keep away evil forces. The crimson yarn was used to show the lasting power of the blood sacrifice. These are all symbols. In the TV show, the singer needed a guitar, a microphone, and a stage for her to summon her courage and spirit.
Today we bless the blankets that our church members made for the Linus Project. It would be our cedar wood, hyssop, and crimson yarn. I did not kill any bird because Jesus already died on the Cross (I love this part!). We pray that each knot and stitch will deliver the love of God. We pray that the softness of the blanket will bring the people who use them the gentle love of God.
Complete new life is starting!
In the Bible, after the priest pronounces the person to be clean, the person shaves all the hair of the head, beard, and eyebrows. This is a symbolic action to show that the person expects a complete new life to start. If you recall the story of Samson, after Samson lost his power when his hair was cut, his hair started growing again (Judges 16:22 “But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.”) That shows God’s grace and Samson’s second chance to be a real judge for the Israelites.
When I watched the TV show, I could tell that a complete new life was starting for the woman contestant. She was full of new energy and life. Everybody cheered for her and her parents were filled with emotion. That should be happening when people receive our Linus blankets.
On this youth Sunday, I just want to add one note for young people. Whatever happens to you in your life, do not give up! A new life is possible always. Take one blanket for you if you need extra grace. God is with you and we are with you. You matter to God and you matter to us.
- When do you feel that your hope is gone and your life is over?
- Who helped you to feel that a new life is still possible? What did that person do for you?