Pentecost 2c – Sunday 2nd June 2013
Luke 7: 1-10
It was with great sadness that I read of the death of Bill Pertwee this past week. Bill Pertwee was best known for his portrayal of Warden Hodges in the popular BBC sitcom Dad’s Army. He was the perfect protagonist to the bumbling Captain Mainwaring and his hapless band of troops, and most mishaps fell his way. He would often refer to the Home Guard as “Ruddy Hooligans”, he would address Captain Mainwaring as Napoleon, and almost every episode included his catchphrase of “Put that light out”.
Of course, his repertoire and CV show that he was a very accomplish comic actor. Many have paid tribute to Bill Pertwee and mourned his passing on television and in the news papers this week.
Dad’s Army is a million miles removed from the great Roman Army. And yet that is where we find the inspiration for our faith journey this week, the faith found in a Roman Army Captain.
David Lose has written an article called Unexpected Faith this week on his Working Preacher Blog. He begins by saying:
By and large, I’ve typically read the story of Jesus and the centurion as a tremendous story about the nature of faith. To the question, “What is faith?” this story offers a clear answer. I mean, here’s a guy who so trusts Jesus’ ability to heal that he sends a servant to tell Jesus to just say the word. That’s right, he tells Jesus not to even bother showing up, but simply to give a command. Why? Because based on his position as a centurion, he knows what authority is and he believes Jesus has it. Now that’s faith!
But David Lose goes on to write that this Roman Army Captain is actually a completely unlikely and unexpected source for this story … like so many of the characters we find intertwined in the gospel story … persistent widow, good Samaritan, shrewd manager, etc. As David Lose says so eloquently:
God regularly shows up where we don’t expect God to be and never, ever stops delighting in surprising us.
We often think that we’ve got God worked out. What we should believe, how we should express it, what is right and what is wrong, what is in and what is out. And yet, there are so many unexpected and unlikely twists and turns to our faith. We are growing every day. We are learning every day. The journey is never over.
Do you wish you had a sure and certain faith like the Roman Centurion? Well, the good news is, you are who you are because God wants you that way. You might be more like Captain Mainwaring than the Roman Centurion but that doesn’t matter. God still has called you by name and has mighty plans for your life. You were made to show God’s glory, you were made to honour his name. Listen carefully to his calling, be obedient to his Word, offer yourself wholeheartedly, he asks nothing more. Faith as big as a mountain or small as a mustard seed is one and the same faith to God.
Oh, and don’t forget as you leave the office tonight: “Put that light out!”