Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thankful Enough to Turn Back

On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19

The other day I had the opportunity to participate in a service of thanksgiving at a local retirement village. It was a n interfaith gathering and members of the community told the story of their people in America. How, despite hardships, their ancestors had struggled and accomplished much. And they were grateful for the opportunities that they had been given by coming to America. I was asked to make some final remarks and reminded them of the great hospitality of the Native people who welcomed, fed and trained the recent arrivals in survival techniques in this land. And I got to thinking how many of those new arrivals turned around and really thanked their rescuers? And how many, once their feet were on the ground and their bellies full, turned away and ignored or disparaged those who had given them life?

Jesus healed a bunch of men along a lonely stretch of road. They were elated to be whole and took off at his instruction. The foreigner among them was the only one to return and be grateful, the only one to be thankful for this new lease on life. And he was the only one who knew the strength of his own faith, and his trust in God despite the challenges he faced in his body and in society.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving in the coming days, I wonder how many of us have turned and stopped to thank those who have given us life, rescued us, fed us and gotten us through the hardest times? I want to remind myself of those people in my life and do all I can to turn and be thankful. For in their faith, my own faith has been strengthened and I have seen the love and miracles of God in their offerings.

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