Today's Gospel reading was Luke 17:11-19, the healing of the ten lepers.
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.’How we got from there to a sermon about bullying of GLBTs and the recent suicide of a young man "pris en flagrant délit" is beyond me. Did we hear one word about how Jesus can heal such tortured souls? No, instead we heard a rambling tale of people "excluded from community" and how they can be returned to full acceptance by the community, somehow without healing of the individual. In this type of mathematic, the community alone is that which needs the healing. This leaves out important questions of what, if any, of our shameful behaviors are unseen by God, the questions of why we feel shame in the first place, and the questions of how we can return to the Lord in those times when we engage in sin and do shameful things. Why, why, did we not hear the call for all those who are afflicted to come to Jesus to be healed?
Trying to simplify a complicated math problem by ignoring important variables gets you nowhere, and trying to score progressive points by capitalizing on a tormented soul's suicide gets you a big fat zero in this pewster's grade book. I take this a bit personally as I have been touched by suicide and have also cared for way too many unsuccessful as well as quite a few successful suicides, and once the blame game starts being played, my dander gets up.
When I listened as our preacher used this unfortunate man's death to advance her agenda, I thought that this is how a church commits suicide: by ignoring scripture, blaming others, and by using a bully pulpit to promote a social activist agenda.
To that I have to plead to the church, "Turn back. Don't jump!"