This week the theme of the service was South Africa and the great leader Nelson Mandela who brought the people together to unite his country after the dark days of apartheid. Even though his enemies had imprisoned him he forgave them and worked with them to remove hatred and division and build a country where all would be equally welcome.
Apartheid in South Africa is gone but there remain many other evils; poverty, injustice, racism and greed and there are leaders who would exploit these to their own ends and create a society that is divided. The great leaders are those who lead with humility and promote equality, harmony and peace rather than war and division. In the reading Jesus comments that the Centurion has great faith in Him despite being a Roman and not one of the Jews. Faith in Jesus is not dependent on race or standing – the Kingdom of God is open equally to all who have faith and follow his teaching.
Tim told us about a service in South Africa where there was singing and dancing during the collection so we did the same this morning and danced in the aisles to the song We are Marching - an uplifting experience!
The Faith of the Centurion
7 When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. 2 There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6 So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.