(Luke 17:11-19) Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
Every year as we come to the Thanksgiving season I become aware that I do not thank God nearly enough. I am quick to lament, to complain, to ask, to (if I am honest) tell God what God ought to do. But aside from a quick, “Thank you for today God.” I don’t get really down into the things I am grateful to God for. As I read about these lepers who were healed, I realize that it is often tricky to just cut loose and praise God. We get really excited and worked up about bad stuff, but what about the good? Have you ever heard at prayer group “not a single school shooting in America this week. Praise God.” Or “The Nation is grateful this week for all the successful cancer treatments that have left thousands of people with a clean bill of health.” No, that’s not as exciting as belaboring the negative. So bear with me for a few moments as I take some time to reflect on the ten lepers and how, through their story, I am reminded to be grateful to God.
Thank you Jesus for walking the “borders” – the places in life where the edgy people are. Thank you for going out of your way to connect with people who are pressed to the edges of our society. Thank you for stopping to listen as the ‘least of these’ call out for pity. Thank you for hearing the prayers of the outcast and the ones who are in need of cleansing. Thank you for being approachable, so that even a wretch like me can come to you with my every burden and fall at your feet.
Thank you for seeing the edgy parts of me. Thank you for going out of your way to connect with me. Thank you for leaving your throne in heaven and coming to earth to meet me where I am. Thank you for hearing me call out to you, and for healing the brokenness in me.
Praise you, God for all who turn back to offer praise. Thank you for all the people in my life who speak your name without hesitation; who bravely point to you as the source of all good things; who dare to recognize you as GOD and remind me that you are real and you are actively at work in the world redeeming what has been done and shepherding us all toward the day when you will return in glory like we’ve never seen before.
Praise you God for loving me too much to allow me to stay comfortable for too long. Thank you for interrupting my pride and refusing to leave me as I am, even it makes me uncomfortable. Thank you for walking with me through the valley of the shadow of death toward a more abundant life.
Thank you for this community where I have been called to lead and to love your people. Thank you for my crazy kids and delightful granddaughters. Thank you for my life partner who loves you enough to love me well. Thank you for music. Thank you for bread. Thank you for your Word which is alive and living in me. Thank you for peace that passes understanding when I just don’t understand.
Thank you for coming to us when we could not find our way to you. Thank you for the celebration of Thanksgiving, and the weeks of Advent when we are reminded to be prepare our hearts for your coming, and to be like that one leper out of ten who, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.
Thank you, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Maranatha. Amen.