Why are you here today in this church, at this service? I know I am putting you on the spot. But take a few moments to think on that. What is your purpose of being here today? Or on any given Sunday?
My answer ties in with our Gospel reading today. We heard the story of the 10 lepers who were healed(Luke 17.11-19). As Jesus approaches a village he is approached by these lepers who try to get his attention, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” They are so desparate and hopeless, shunned from society and from their families. Leprosy is a disease where your body decays over a period of time. It is a slow, painful, and humiliating existence awaiting inevitable death. It was one of the most horrible of the ancient diseases. Jesus was their final hope. He tells them to go and show themselves to the priests, a requirement of the Old Testament law in order to insure a full cure so as not to spread the disease, and they were cured as they were on their way. Can you imagine the joy that they would have had at being cured? And yet there was only one leper who returned “praising God” and he thanked Jesus.
It is interesting to hear how Jesus’ immediate response was a focus on the ingratitude of the other lepers; “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?” Jesus demands gratitude, not for himself; notice how he says, “none of them was found to return and give praise to God.” So Jesus here is showing us just how important gratitude is for us. While the one leper was transformed by his gratitude I imagine the nine who were unable to express their gratitude returned to their old attitudes, habits, goals, and general shallowness of life. Nothing else in tham had changed besides being free from leprosy. It is the same for us, so it is necessary to express our gratitude as it manifests recognition for how this particular act has touched or changed our life. Now, obviously Jesus deserves our thanks as he has brought us hope, not by a mere command as he does with the lepers, but by his life, suffering, and death on the cross. Have we thought about offering him our due thanks and praising him for this great gift of eternal life which he shares with us. God also deserves our utmost thanks, for all that we have has come from Him.
This is why I am here at this service today, to give Jesus Christ my due thanks and to give God praise for all His gifts, for my very life. He doesn’t need our thanks, but we need to thank him. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that we are reflecting on this as we celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend. I believe it can be easy to be thankful for what we have, but to show gratitude is an expression of faith; our utter reliance and trust in God.
A great thing to do today, tomorrow, this week, [something concrete] is to look back on your life; think of the people and events that the Lord has put in your life. Maybe at the time you didn’t realize they were a blessing, but looking back now you can see that they were. Have you thanked the Lord for that? The simplest and best prayer we could say is, “Thank you!”
Obviously God deserves our utmost thanks, but it is also important to recognize and appreciate the small or large favours and services done by others for us each day. Are there people in your life, maybe not even at the present moment, who have helped you on your way? Maybe in a deep or profound way, maybe in a simple way. Take some time to thank these people, a simple letter or note; “Your words, your act of kindness meant a lot to me!”
When we can express gratitude and thankfulness to God and others we can stand with the leper of today’s Gospel, hearing the words of Jesus resound in our own transformed hearts, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”
2 Kings 5.14-17
2 Timothy 2.8-13