1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 NIV, 1838
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus
Luke 17:11-19 NIV, 1629
11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
- Summary of what we are going to do on gratitude and it’s All Saint’s Day
- Over the years, we have looked at books by John Ortberg. He has written many challenging books on the Christian faith that takes the difficult questions we ask about the Christian faith and distills them into understandable English.
- In one of his books Ortberg writes, “Gratitude
is the ability to experience life as a gift. It opens us up to wonder, delight,
and humility. It makes our hearts generous. It liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation.[i]
- Gratitude is the gift God gives us which enables us to be blessed by all God’s other gifts, the way our taste buds enable us to enjoy the gift of food.
- Without gratitude our lives degenerate into envy, dissatisfaction, and complaints, taking for granted what we have and always wanting more.”
- So, gratitude is a way of orienting our spirits to experience life as a gift, while the alternative is being chronically discontent.
- Someone said, “It is not happy people
who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.”
- “It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.”
- Ask congregation about their thoughts about what does gratitude mean.
- Here are some attributes of grateful
- Express their joy.
- Celebrate all of God’s blessings.
- Remember who and what helped their lives turn for the best.
- Endure hardships with grateful hearts.
- Serve others with their talent, time and money.
- Value the small things in life.
- Spend time with loved ones and fiends.
- Let’s look at this morning’s Gospel lesson
from Luke about Jesus healing the ten lepers.
- As we look closely to this passage, we can see that the secret to a content and joyful life is contained in this brief passage?
- The key to both contentment and joy is tucked away in a deceptively simple observation: They were all cleansed (ie. made well) —They’re all made well!
- All the lepers in this story, that is. They are all made well. Did you notice that? All ten of them. No one was left out. Not a single one!
- At the outset of this relatively short
story from Luke’s Gospel, there are ten men who are suffering from leprosy,
which is highly contagious.
- Any form of Leprosy made them ritually unclean, which meant they couldn’t participate in the Temple services and rituals of their faith,
- they had to be segregated from other people or they would contaminate them, making them also ritually unclean and unable to be part of society.
- Unable to practice their faith, these men stood on the outside of their community as well, likely feeling alone, abandoned, and desperate. They tended to stick together for safety reasons near the roads-close enough to beg for alms from folks as they passed by.
- So, as St. Luke tells us, when these ten men realize Jesus is coming near them, they call out to him, not simply for comfort or companionship or someone to listen to them, but instead asking if he would have mercy on them and cure them. To their surprise, he does. All of them.
- As Luke writes, “When Jesus saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean.” All of them!
- Luke continues, “Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He stretched himself on the ground at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan” And this is important because the Samaritan was the despised, hated mixed-race person.
- Jesus notices immediately, asking, “‘Were
not ten made clean? But the other nine,
where are they? Was none of them found
to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’”
- Jesus’ response is pretty understandable. He just cured ten men, instructing them to go to the Temple – something they have not been able to do for who knows how long – and show themselves to the priests so that they might return to their faith, their community, and their families.
- Jesus did exactly that they asked him to do and yet, of the ten he made clean, only one bothers to come back and thank him.
- At this point in the story, what would
we ask of Jesus:
- is Jesus confused, do you think?
- Or hurt?
- Is he a little peeved?
- or disappointed, or even angry?
- What we do know is that he gets over it pretty quickly, shifts his attention to the one in front of him at his feet, and then offers this blessing, saying, “‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’”
- So, why does Jesus say, “your faith
has made you well” if they’ve already all been made well?
- When we look at how the biblical word was translated from Greek it turns out– can be translated as “made well,” in the sense of being healed,
- but it can also be translated as “saved,” in the sense of being brought through mortal danger.
- It can be translated as “made whole,” in the sense of being completed and made to be what you were meant to be all along.
- So, ten were men in total were made
clean, but only one was saved.
- Ten were made clean, but only one was made whole.
- Ten were made clean, but only one recognized the source of the healing and gave thanks and, in giving thanks, became what God had intended all along.
- I believe, is pretty much the secret
- Gratitude is noticing God’s grace,
- Gratitude is seeing God’s goodness,
- Gratitude is paying attention to God’s healing,
- Gratitude is stopping to take in the blessing,
- Gratitude is giving thanks for the ordinary and extraordinary graces of our life together.
- Gratitude is the secret to a good life and the heart of saving faith. This is the secret to living completely whole and joyful no matter what circumstances comes your way.
- I have seen gratitude come forth from the small things that life throws at us.
- I know this because I’ve seen it.
- In new parents and those in Hospice care,
- in the face of a child receiving an unexpected treat as well as the expression of a very ill patient recognizing the extraordinary care of a nurse.
seen it in reverse as well. The lack of
gratitude is shown in:
- The person who is never satisfied.
- The person who gets a break and complains it wasn’t bigger or better!
- The person who compares their lot in life to everyone else and is never satisfied because so and so has more…
- True joy isn’t found comparing your situation to someone else’s but, rather in seeing the blessings you have as pure gifts from an amazing God who has given much more than you could ask for or ever deserve.
- Which is what I find so amazing – this
gratitude which restores and heals and completes and saves… it’s available to
us at every single moment of our lives.
- In our health or with those who are caring for us when we aren’t well.
- In those near and far who have contributed to who we are.
- In the fellowship we share in our congregation and for the people and programs that bring them to life.
- In both the rain and sunshine! – People who are filled with gratitude enjoy their lives.
we open our eyes to look, blessing is all around.
- I don’t think Jesus is angry or upset with the nine who didn’t come back. I think his heart aches for them.
- They were made clean, but they still had the peril of an ungrateful life.
- They had not yet been made whole and had not yet become the people God hoped for them to be.
- So, there it is – the secret to a completely whole and joyful life, the heart of gratitude.
- I believe that the most joy filled
people are those whose gratitude flows from their hearts.
- I believe that generous people are the most joy filled people.
- Generosity and abundant faith, and for our witnessing to the grace of God that not only showers us with blessing but gives us the eyes to see it and hearts eager to respond in gratitude and generosity.
- God blesses us with so much and allows us the freedom to be grateful or not; to be generous or not. I try to count my blessings and remember to return to give Jesus my thanks every day.
- Will you?
- November 1st for many is known as All Saints Day.
- This day has been primarily celebrated by most Christians.
- The thought of All Saints Day has always been a time for people to remember and pray for the those who have passed away.
- All Saints Day though is a time for us to think about
those who have gone before us. It is a time to give thanks and remember.
- As the scriptures say “therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).
- We have been surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses, the saints who have gone before us and who have laid a foundation of faith for us.
have been influenced by those who have shared their faith: with us, with others
on the mission field, with people in their faith communities, and beyond.
- the saints who have gone before us and are the torch bearers that helped lay a foundation for individuals to see Christ for themselves.
- All Saints Day should draw us into reflection and thought
about those witnesses to us in our faith journey. We ask ourselves:
- Who is a person who witnessed Christ to you?
- Who showed you the hands and feet of Christ in real and practical ways?
- Who was or is that person who helped you in your walk of faith?
- All Saints Day is also a time of gratitude.
- A time when we consciously think about the many blessings in our lives and give thanks.
- It is with gratitude for us to reflect on and give thanks for those for whom have shared the life of faith with us.
- It is an opportunity for us to think about the ways in
which others have impacted our faith journey and offer up prayers and praise
for their life.
- For all the Sunday School teachers, pastors, faithful saints, grandmas/grandpas, aunts/uncles, friends, who have shared faith with us we give thanks.
- For all those who spent any time on the mission field sharing God’s love with others, we give thanks.
- For the quiet ones and the loud ones who shared their testimony with us, we give thanks.
- This day and everyday moving forward to give thanks and pray
- Let’s pray:
- O Lord that we might be the hands and feet of Christ to the next generations of who are seeking faith and understanding. Help us O Lord to remember the ways in which others have witnessed to us and lead us in ways we can witness to others. May today mark a day of deep gratitude and the being of a thankful life.
- [i] When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg
-  When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg