Summary: A Samaritan leper tells of the hope he held on to, even through times when there appeared to be no hope.
Style: Dramatic.      Duration: 12min
Scripture: Luke 17: 11-19
Actors: 1M

Character: Samaritan leper

Props: soiled rags and whole cloth


Leper: (holding up old rags) Here is my old life. My shreds. My rags of despair.

And here is my new life. My wholeness. My untorn cloth of redemption. My symbol of God's healing love.

What cloth are you wearing today? What song are you singing in your worship this morning? Today I will sing for you a song of redemption come true. A life renewed. But mine was not always such a song. My life was a dissonant song. With discordant notes and sour sounds. The life of a leper. The body of a wounded child of God, cast out by the world, which made its own music. The music of the world never had a place on its scale for the yearning tones of the misfit. But God understands our discordant lives. And loves us for it.

Did you think the out-cast never sing? How soon we forget the story of hope. By the waters of Babylon - in exile and poverty - our people wept, and hung their harps on the willows of despair. But still they sang. Humming quietly, composing their poems of hope to the God of life. I have hung my harp there, too. But God still sent a song into my heart. Quietly humming itself into my soul.

I will never forget the song I used to sing. I will never forget to tell others of those sounds, nor of the new melody which stirs in my soul even now. I will never forget, for I know well that many still carry those songs of redemption in their bones, their very beings resonating with hope, ligaments vibrating, strings out of tune, yes, but straining to find the melody that connects them to the bigger chorus of praise and thanksgiving.

Everybody has a song of redemption unfound. A mournful tune of hope that blows like a breeze through the branches of our twisted trees. A song of life that lets you know you are not alone. Maybe you have sung your song, too.

Cynics know nothing of hope, nor its song. Give us evidence, please. In this world of marketplaces and hard facts and clinical thinking. Evidence! Show me your God! Bring me the hand of the Creator. Call the people out to see. Let them get autographs.

I understand the scoffing. After all, who gets to meet God? Moses, maybe, though it almost cost him his life. Almost seared his eyeballs out. The backside of God was all he got. Ever since then, we've been looking. Looking, if we are lucky, at the backside of God. Remembering the bigger story of salvation, but getting lost in our own stories of loss. Looking for signs. Shreds of evidence.

Shreds. I know about shreds. I've lived in shreds all my life. (holding up the rags) These are my story. The rags of my old life. These were the shreds of hope to which I clung. These were the rags I shared with my fellow lepers. The rags of poverty and despair.

I was born a leper. And, but for the grace of God, would have died one.

My parents did love me. What parent doesn't love their child? They brought me up to love myself, in spite of my affliction. In spite of the shunning they knew would be my lot in life outside their home. They took me to the place of worship, as long as they could, until my disease started to become too evident. Too contagious.

But the rabbi would come to our home, God bless the humble man. His love of God was stronger than his fear of my illness. He taught me to know God. To understand hope. He told me about the history of our people. Of the Jews suffering under Pharaoh. Of their slavery and their deliverance, their doubts and hope.

He reminded me of our history as a Samaritan people. At odds with the Jews. But never at odds with God. The life of a Samaritan, would never be easy. We were, by birth and history, an outcast people. Disfavored by the authorities of Israel. There were no advocates for our cause in this world. None but God. Small hope, I thought, but hope still it was.

My parents were poor. They had no way of providing for me in my later life, save that they gave me my dignity. And my faith. I could not secure a trade, for no one would apprentice me. My life, I knew, once my parents could no longer provide for me, would be the life of a beggar.

And so it came to be. My new family became the other lepers of my community. They welcomed me, as they themselves had been welcomed. We understood each other. There was no need of explanation. Our suffering had brought us together. And what wholeness there may be in life we would provide for each other. Tending each others' wounds, sharing such wealth as we could find, our food, and our poverty.

I would speak of my faith to them. I would write poems of hope and redemption. Humming them around the cooking fire. Some of the others wept at those songs, yearning as they did for the fulfillment of what God might do. Hoping themselves.

Others scoffed at me. "You, a Samaritan leper. Who are you to sing songs of hope in this valley of despair? Who are you to think things will get better for you, for us? Look around you, man. Things are the way they are. God has cursed us, and there is no blessing. Stop filling their heads with nonsense. Get out and beg." It silenced me for a while, but only on the outside.

One day, I was travelling with some of my friends. There were ten of us. We crossed a hill and there found Jesus. We had heard of him, of course. The stories of his teaching, his miracles blew like wild fire among the people.

Who among lepers would not wish to find healing? We had met other miracle workers before. Many had taken our money for the effort. Would we try again? We kept our distance, and then screwed up our courage and called out to him, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"

Jesus looked at us, though made no effort to come close. Instead he called out, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." A ritual of cleansing. It was, according to the scriptures, the way it was done.

We turned to the voice, then to each other, and fled with the wind at our heels. Down the valley we went, our rags flapping in the breeze. and then we slowly came to a stop. Something had happened in those leaping steps we had taken. A miracle. We were cured! The rags of our old life still clung to our skins, but we were whole!

We looked around. The world seemed different. It was full of life. I knew there was only one thing to do. Before I went to the priest, even. I turned around and ran back to Jesus. My eyes welling with tears of joy, I threw myself at his feet. "Thanks be to God," I cried. Then I heard Jesus call out, "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?"

I got up then, and looked around. I could see my friends in the distance, walking away. I wished they had come with me. They should have come. I don't know why they didn't. But for now, what matters is that I did.

The last words Jesus said to me were these, "Get up and go on your way. Your faith has made you well."

My suffering was over. God is good.

But that is a long story. Suffice to say I have found a new song to sing, and new clothes to wear.

Maybe my story doesn't interest you. The last part, perhaps. The happy ending. You all look so well dressed. Perhaps you would rather just hear me sing my happy songs. O don't you worry, I will be glad to sing my song for you.

But maybe some of you can relate to my struggle. Not the suffering of a leper. So far removed from your experience that you can simply call it 'history' and cure it with a turn of the page. But I mean the other disease. The dis-ease which so many carry around inside their souls. The lives of quiet desperation, which nobody knows save the ones who have it.

Perhaps, like me, you have felt disharmony. You who have just lost a job. Or you who have just fought with your loved one and carry the scars of emotional pain around. You who have not been reconciled with your children for so many years you cannot remember. You who have looked on the dealings and greed of the marketplace and felt that this clutching and grabbing and building empires does nothing to harmonize the creation with its creator. Shreds it more, even. A bit for me. A shred for you.

If we are honest, we have all known what it is to live with shreds. And those who wrap themselves in them know the throbbing sound of hope. The beautiful melody of life that is so much stronger and truer than the discordant notes we keep striking. I am here to tell you, my friends in hope, my brothers and sisters in Christ, that the music of God is worth the singing. Christ's garment of life is worth the wearing. Cast off your rags. Listen to the melody of hope.


Written by Jim Hatherly

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