A favorite image of forgiveness to preach about this time of year is the passage in Luke 17: 12-19 of Jesus healing the ten lepers of their disease. In the text - as Jesus is passing by them - the ten leprous men cry out for him to heal them and he tells them to go show themselves to the priests. As they went they were healed. All ten are miraculously healed by Jesus but only one of them returns to Jesus to give thanks for that act of compassion.
Much is made of only one returning. Most talk about the lack of gratitude on the part of the nine who left and never returned. Some will talk about the fact that the others may have been so overwhelmed with their ability to reconnect that they rushed to be with their friends and families or that they left to go profess thanksgiving in their own faith traditions, but the one who came back to give thanks gets the most mentions. The nine are often chastised as being ungrateful, even though we have no clear idea why none of those nine returned. The point of the use of this text is the gratefulness of the one.
So the logical question for this Thanksgiving Week is to ask how grateful we are. Do we have an attitude of gratitude? Are we part of the 10%?
I know this past week or so I have had some amazing experiences:
· My son turned 13 and his team won their soccer league championship game
· I became ill and had great health care options to get better
· I was asked to preach at RevolutionNYC Church in Brooklyn and had a blast doing what I love
· My father had foot surgery and came through with flying colors
· I am off this week and get to enjoy some resting, writing, and being with family time.
These are all things that I am extremely thankful for, but there are so many more. I am thankful for my home and the roof over my head. I am thankful for the heat that keeps my family warm and the food in our cupboard that keeps us fed. I am thankful for my education and experience that allows me to do what I love for a living. I am thankful for my sisters who keep me sane and help me through tough times (even though they can sometimes also drive me insane). I am thankful for my parents who are healthy and active into their late 70s and who have supported me so amazingly throughout my life.
I am thankful for those people who have fought for my freedom in the armed forces and in civil rights and social justice movements throughout our history. I am grateful for my faith and all of the people who led me to understand God in ways that make me strong as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for my church family that blesses me weekly with their worship and willingness to support each other. I am grateful for my denomination, even though I disagree with it on several key issues. I am grateful for new trends in creating and being church that gives me hope for faith communities of the future. I am grateful for the school that my son goes to and for the education he is receiving. I am grateful for friends and family who are special parts of my life journey.
I am grateful for the opportunities that living in America provides and for the responsibilities I have as a citizen to hold my country’s feet to the fire. I am grateful for Occupy Wall Street and the ways they are calling for justice and economic balance. I am grateful for the election process that lets us get to know our candidates, even though they make me crazy with their limited plans, promises and partisanship.
I want to be part of the 10% this week … but more than that I want to be part of the 10% all year long. I want to live with an attitude of gratitude. I want to turn around and walk back to the one who makes me whole and say “Thank you, Jesus.”