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Monday, August 29, 2016

08282016 14th Sunday After Trinity - Jesus heals even those who are not thankful!

August 14, 2016
Luke 17:11-19 – Ten Lepers Cleansed – Jesus heals even those who are not thankful!
While growing up in Virginia, at our church I grew up singing a catchy tune from Lutheran Book of Worship that we have begun to use again as a Post Communion Canticle.  Listen to the words from the tune: 
Thank the Lord and sing His praise; tell everyone what He has done.  Let all who seek the Lord rejoice and proudly bear His name.  He recalls His promises and leads His people forth in joy with shouts of thanksgiving.  Alleluia.  Alleluia.
This canticle of praise we sang last week after having received the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  It is clearly not only a “Thank You” song to God for the Gift of eternal life we have just received from the Altar, but it compels us to tell others about what we have received.  With our singing these words we boldly are calling ourselves to joyfully go and tell others of God’s promises with shouts of thanksgiving.
Enter our Gospel this morning.  Jesus in typical Savior fashion, healed ten leprous men, who were not allowed to enter the temple and not even darken the city gates.  Leper colonies were far outside of the city gates, unprotected by the ‘walls’ that usually surrounded cities and would not be visited by anyone of any status.
Yet, Jesus Christ, not only healed these ten men, but even the one who returned was none other than a Samaritan.  Remember that Samaritans were despised and hated by Jews.  Similar to today, it is a hatred that is both along racial and ethnic boundaries.  But as we know, Jesus Christ came to fulfill God’s call and the Samaritans were included in God’s gift of salvation for all of mankind.  Samaritans were early embracers of the Gospel as evidenced by this man who is commended by Jesus for his faith.  For Jesus says simply to the healed Samaritan, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.
For we who come to church and give thanks and praise two thousand years later, a clear assertion can be made that applies to everyone.  Not only the Jews who still to this day hold that the Messiah has not come, to the Galatians who Paul wrote one of his letters to, but also for our culture and community today.  Jesus healed even those who are not thankful!  This is why in the Luther’s Catechism when we read the explanation to the Lord’s Prayer, the seventh petition states, “But deliver us from evil.”  And Jesus definitely with the healing of this man has removed a curse from him and his life.  Now the Samaritan could go to town, walk among the people and no longer be shunned as someone who is ‘unclean.’
Yet, in true faithful fashion, this man, who only seconds ago was seen as unclean, after realizing he has been healed, “turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His [that is Jesus] feet, giving thanks to Him.”  He didn’t have to give thanks, but saw it as his duty to turn to the Man Who had given him his life back and as the canticle and our text says, “Sing His praise”.  The Samaritan not only verbalized in words, but also falling on his face he gave the praise to Jesus Christ for the gift of grace.  He didn’t have to, but clearly felt the human need to turn and give thanks and praise.
To paraphrase Paul in Romans 8, “What then shall we say to these things?”  Simply, we are called to give God praise as well.  We look to our world and listen to the radio, television, read in the newspaper, the internet and even conversations on the street, we say our world is in trouble.  The election coming up, the tragedies in Italy of the earthquakes, the floods in Louisiana, the fires in California.  Closer to home the price of wheat or corn, the rising price of inputs like fertilizer or insecticides or fungicides in order to do business and attempt to make a living.  It appears our world may appear to be in trouble, but I’m here to boldly proclaim we have a God Who loves us and gave His Son Jesus Christ to free us from all that binds us.
We have only to realize that God will heal us and God will not only heal us, but God through His Son Jesus Christ heals even those who are not thankful.  That is the true meaning of the Gospel of Salvation.  The free gift of God given by His Son Jesus Christ and His willingness to go to the Cross of Calvary was so we can be set free from sin, death and the devil.  This is the offer of grace for all of mankind not just for a select few who own the biggest spreads, the best toys or have the most.
The gift of grace is offered for everyone from conception of life to the youngest child only seconds from being taken from their mother’s womb to the oldest person who waits for death to come and take them away.  God offers all of mankind forgiveness and life and salvation because of His great love for us.  It is this free offer of grace that Martin Luther went against the teachings of 1500 years of the church in order to insure that grace would abound.  This is the same reason we sing the Post Communion Canticle.  It is the opportunity for we who not only have received the gift of eternal life to give thanks and praise to God for His gifts, but even for those who may not be thankful or return to God to give thanks and praise.
Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betty were prisoners in one of the worst prison camps during World War II.  On the day of a transfer to a new camp they read from 1st Thessalonians that speaks of giving thanks in all things.  Upon arrival in their new surroundings Betsy encouraged her sister to give thanks for everything in their new ‘home’.
Corrie wouldn’t, she said, ‘what do I have to be thankful for, we have been placed in and among fleas.  I can’t be thankful.’  Finally after much convincing Corrie began to be and express her thankfulness for these new surroundings.  Betsy and Corrie began many bible studies and prayer services while held in the prison camp, and found no interference from the guards, which out of the ordinary for the times and was a miracle for them.  Not until months later did they learn why the guards left them alone.  The guards refused to enter the barracks because of the fleas.

How thankful have you been recently for God’s gifts given to you?  If you would go and walk the halls of most nursing homes like Good Samaritan that deal with Alzheimers and Dementia or hospital wards that daily deal with the devastating diseases of cancer or AIDS and even death.  We who gather here today need to be and do like the Samaritan, for we have lots to be thankful for in our lives.  Let’s choose to be thankful to God for His gift of love, grace and forgiveness for us and share this message with others of what Jesus Christ did for all of mankind, especially for each of us gathered here this morning, just as the Samaritan did in giving thanks to Jesus Christ for giving him his life back.  AMEN.

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