Scripture on Thanksgiving Luke 17:11-19
Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
A father in Phoenix, Arizona, called his son, John, in New York City two days before Thanksgiving. He said, “Son, I just can’t take it anymore. Your mother just gets on my nerves so badly and all’s we ever do is fight. After 45 years of misery I just can’t take it anymore. I’m sorry to dump all this on you but I’m applying for a divorce. Do me a favor, tell your sister in Chicago because I just don’t even want to talk about it! The father hangs up.
Ten minutes later the phone rings and it is his daughter. “Dad, don’t do ANYTHING right now. DON’T apply for the divorce. I’ll call John and we’ll fly to Phoenix tomorrow. Let’s sit down and talk about this before you do anything you’ll regret”
The father hangs up the phone and turns to his wife and says, “Honey, the kids are coming home for Thanksgiving and we don’t have to pay for the airfare!”
Leprosy is a terrible disease. In the time of Jesus, it meant that you were unclean; you could not be within 50 feet of a person who was not a leper. You needed to walk with a bell to announce your approach. You were an outcast, losing your home, your family, your community.
This is the backdrop in today’s Gospel message for Thanksgiving. Can you imagine the joy and elation that the ten felt as they walked to show themselves to the priests that they were now cured of this terrible plague! Now they would be able to go home to their families, their friends. They would again be part of the community and so they ran and they ran and they ran to tell everyone that they had been cured. They never looked back.
Aren’t we very much like them? When we receive a blessing that changes our lives, what do we do? We run and tell everyone who will listen. “Look at me, I just received a promotion; Look at me I’m happy; Look at me…” Wasn’t it funny that when the lotteries were almost at a billion dollars, many people were somewhat altruistic when asked what they would do with the money. Most said that they would help those in need. They would donate heavily to charities. But I never heard anyone, even from the lips of this poor sinner, say that they would thank God. We never look back.
Only one turned back. He came back and fell at His feet and thanked Him for his cure. Ten were cured but only one was made whole. Healing, my friends, is more than just a physical state. Healing creates a change in the human heart. And this change in the human heart which makes us whole is a change made from love.
Today we live in a loveless society. Last week in Bible Study, our group talked about the “good old days” in which we didn’t have much, but what we did have we shared with others. Many remembered strangers being brought to the table to share a meal. Can you imagine, strangers, and it was not just on Christmas Eve for Holy Supper! Love begets trust! Love is fearless!
God loves us, in this we can trust. In 1 John we read …”let us love one another since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God…we are to love, then, because He loved us first”
Think about a parent’s love. We teach our youth to the point where we must trust them to make the right decisions in their own lives. We trust them because we love them.
If there is no love, there is no trust. If there is no love there is no thankfulness. If there is no thankfulness there is only bitterness and the constant asking “Why me?”
Dr. Jim Moore, the Pastor of St. Luke United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas wrote a book entitled, You Can Grow Bitter or You Can Get Better. He was asked once where he came up with this title. He related a story of how a young woman came into his office sobbing. She had a towel in her hands and her knuckles were white from wringing them with the towel. A tragedy had befallen the family. Her 26 year old husband had just been killed in a farming accident. He left her alone now with three preschool children. She said, “I don’t know how I am going to go on without him. I do know one thing, I can get bitter or I can get better.”
It is only with a thankful heart that we can rid ourselves of bitterness and we can get better. It is with a thankful hear that we can know and experience the love that God wants to share with us. It is this love that will not only heal us, but it will make us whole.
God loves you….and so do I