Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanks for tomorrow Luke 17:11-19

So thanksgiving's coming soon. And I've heard people talk about thanksgiving as a duty—as a sort of civic responsibility. Giving thanks often starts with remembering—looking back at a day, week, month, a year, a lifetime with gratitude towards God for all the good that's come. But sometimes looking back isn't going to provide much reason for gratitude.

In the gospel of Luke there's a story about 10 men; the gospel writer called them lepers. These men were considered contagious. They were feared, even thought of as dangerous. They had to stand back at a distance from their neighbors calling out in warning announcing they were coming. They had to yell “unclean, unclean” as a warning for others to stay away, far away (Leviticus 13:45).

When I hear people talk about thanksgiving as a duty and then I think of these ten hurting people it doesn't seem so easy to be thankful. These men wouldn't have been welcome to join the rest of the community in the thank offering. The were forbidden to go up to the temple or to sit at anyone's table. No one would invite them to join the congregation to give thanks. It's easy to tell someone they have to give thanks; but it's whole lot greater blessing to come alongside of a hurting soul and walk with them in their pain.

Jesus crossed paths with these 10 men. They called out in faith to him, “Jesus, Lord, have mercy on us” Jesus heard the deepest prayer of these hurting people. He called to them to go show themselves to the priest. And along the way—walking in trust that they would be healed—they were made clean.

Faith looks not at things that are—but trusts in the ability of God to transform. Faith in God means there is nothing in our situation in our stories that is beyond redemption. See there are some years thanksgiving is easy. Some times it's easy to look back at the recent past with thanks for the blessings of the past. Maybe your family is healthy—that cancer scare is fading away, the business is going good, you've reconciled restoring a broken relationship. Those days it's easy to look at the blessings right in front of you today and look ahead with joy and say thanks. It's easy to see reasons for gratitude when everything is going great and you've feel like everything has fallen into place and everything is just coming up roses.

But I think of these ten men—they weren't welcome in town. They couldn't gather with family and friends. They had to stay by themselves on the outside far enough away that they couldn't even look in on the celebrations.

Jesus travels, like our own, bring us into contact with all kinds people in every kind of circumstance. You will meet some in their most desperate moments and you will encounter some in their time of greatest joy. And here's where the good news of Jesus meets us—right here in this world. These ten men knew they needed help and in Jesus they saw hope for a different kind of future. In Jesus they saw the possibility of a future beyond their disease and isolation. Faith is about seeing God's unfulfilled promises and still trusting that God's at work.

All these 10 men had was faith. And in the end that was all they needed. Amen.
Peace and thanks for reading,