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    Jul 03, 2016

    Henry Poole

    Henry Poole

    Passage: Luke 17:11-19

    Speaker: Vivian McCarthy

    Series: Signs and Wonders - The Healing Stories of Jesus

    Category: Faith

    Keywords: faith, grace, healing, miracle

    Henry Poole is Here is a movie about a young man who is living without hope and doesn't know the meaning of grace. Henry moves into a dilapidated house, with little furniture and the intention to die with the least possibility of human interaction. However, surrounded by neighborly "angels," Henry's life story takes a significantly different turn!

    [Pastor's Note:  This message is based on the movie, Henry Poole Is Here.  You may find it online or borrow it from the RUMC library.]

    I’m using my imagination again.  This scripture story doesn’t say anywhere that the lepers were depressed, but can you imagine walking around the neighborhood having to warn everyone away by shouting, “Unclean!  Unclean!” everywhere you went?  Can you imagine not greeting anyone or being greeted by your neighbors because greeting required an embrace and no one was to touch or be touched by a leper.

    Henry Poole was by no means a leper, but he lived his life in self-imposed exile.  Although the movie doesn’t let on for a long time that he is terminally ill, it is totally obvious that Henry is depressed and desires to be left completely alone.  He wants nothing more than to move into the house where he grew up – to go home to die.  But he has to settle for a house down the street – a house that’s not in very good shape – a house where the well-intentioned real estate agent attempts to repair the stucco on the outside wall – a house not outfitted with furniture except for a recliner, a bare bones bed, and a TV – oh, and there is one decrepit lawn chair.

    The refrigerator is filled with booze, Krispy Kremes and other foods probably not Mom-approved.

    Henry has no patience for hope.  He just wants to be left alone.  But grace begins to creep in – aided by more than one neighborhood “angel.” 

    First is Esperanza.  Do you know what that name means in Spanish? Hope. 

    It is Esperanza who first points out to Henry that the new stucco job on the back wall of his house bears the face of Christ.  A woman of deep faith, she pleads with Henry to see – to recognize that the mark is not just a stain, not an accident, not a “lousy stucco job” but a sacramental sign of the presence of God. 


    Suffice it to say that there are healings and moments of great hope in this movie.  Yet Henry remains unconvinced – so much so that he finally takes a sledge hammer to the wall of his house to get rid of the offensive stain.  He is hurt in the process and lands in the hospital.

    How often do we go through life like Henry?  The power of this story is in how a small community reaches out to a man whose life is a mess in more ways than one.  He is offered healing by a wonderful busybody, her priest, a little girl, the grocery store clerk, and his beautiful next-door neighbor.  He shrugs them off, one after another.  Power also lies in the ways that, in reaching out to Henry and each other, each person in the story finds hope and healing for themselves as well.

    Friends, remember the lepers?  Like Henry, they were cast out by people who should have loved them – and I’m not talking about Henry’s doctor.  His life, too, was deeply scarred by intentional and perhaps unintentional ostracism.  Nine of the lepers walked away from Jesus without any response.  I wonder if they ever felt the awe and gratitude of the gift they received or if they simply went on with life, depressed and sick, failing to see where God was acting in their lives.

    In the story of the lepers, 1 returned.  One recognized grace and mercy.  One felt the amazing love that made him whole.  One was grateful.  In Henry’s story, it was a busybody, a grocery store clerk and a little girl who opened Henry’s eyes to the power of grace and love.