November 2019

Post date: Oct 28, 2019 7:18:50 PM

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Gratitude to God or taking God for granted—in life we are often confronted with these 2 possibilities. Are we living with gratitude to God? Or are we mostly taking God for granted? In some churches, the gospel reading appointed for Thanksgiving Day is Luke 17:11-19—Jesus healing the 10 men with leprosy. Ten men with leprosy call out to Jesus, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Jesus tells them to go show themselves to the priests. In that day, priests determined whether a person had a contagious skin disease or not. As they went the 10 were made clean. “Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan (a foreigner).” Jesus marvels that only one returns to give praise to God and says to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Gratitude to God or taking God for granted. The reformer Martin Luther was asked, “What is true worship?” And Luther replied simply, “The tenth leper turning back.” The tenth leper turned back to praise God and thank Jesus for healing him, for making him well, for giving him a whole new lease on life, for saving him. This man was a double outsider: he was a leper and a Samaritan. The Gospel of Luke often lifts up outsiders and people on the margins of society as examples of great faith and thankfulness.

The original Greek verbs used here suggest that all ten men are made clean, but only one is truly whole, healed and saved: the one who turned back to thank Jesus and praise God. Gratitude to God or taking God for granted. Every day all of us have times when we can offer gratitude to God or basically take God for granted.

Some folks interpret Jesus’ healing of the 10 men with leprosy to mean that if you only have enough faith you will be healed of all your physical ailments. I do not agree with that. We can all think of very faithful, whole, saved, well people who suffer from diseases and ailments. In his earthly lifetime, Jesus did not heal everyone from their illness or infirmity. When he did, it was always with the greater goal of leading them to faith in God through him. Christians do not have perfect bodies, but we do trust in Jesus for salvation in this life and the life to come.

In the U.S. we set aside one day a year as a National Day of Thanksgiving. At present, our nation has its share of problems. But we also have very much for which to be thankful. And it is right and good that we do so. It is wonderful for families and friends to gather and enjoy good food together and thank God for all that God has given us. (Which is everything: it’s all a gift from God’s gracious hands.) But for Christians, every day is really Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving to God is our way of life.

Peace in Christ, Pastor Dennis