November 25, 2015: Thanksgiving Eve


TEXT: Luke 17: 11-19

Dearly Beloved Thankful Christians:

Almost every year at this time I preach on this little lesson. By now I’ve pretty much covered all the truths it contains. Yet, this year it drew me back again and as I studied it, lo and behold, a new application popped into my mind.

I have much to be thankful for this year. Most of it centers around my health and my heart. Getting through heart surgery and the past five months of recovery has been a challenge and a blessing. A week ago this Friday, after a couple of follow-up tests, my cardiologist said: “You’re cleared for anything. I’ll see you again in about a year.” That’s great news! I’m thankful for it! My problem wasn’t just with my faulty heart valve which the surgeon did a terrific job in fixing; my other problem is my faulty electrical system and weird beats. I’ve put up with that for about 30 years now. The skippy beat issue which leads to palpitations has gotten a lot better with surgery and follow-up. Basically, I’ve discovered I have potassium imbalances in my body and since potassium and magnesium help regulate heart beats, I would sometimes go into arrhythmias. About a month ago I discovered some of this in an emergency room visit, did research, and since then I’m downing a big spoon of blackstrap molasses every day. It contains a huge amount of potassium! Moreover, during these past four weeks I’ve been feeling really good with few irregularities. I got my life back. I have much to be thankful for.

However, I’m still not completely “healed” in all this. I still have issues which can crop up and limit me a bit. And perhaps down the road I will still have to have an ablation procedure to help iron all this out. Knowing all this leaves me slightly frustrated. Like all of you, I just wish God would wave his gracious wand and everything would be perfect! And so, even though I’m thankful for His blessings in this area, I find myself feeling guilty. I would like more from Him and I feel disappointed that my feeling that shows a certain lack of thanksgiving. That’s where our lesson comes in.

We all know the story of the 10 lepers and their healing. We all know about this disfiguring disease and how it destroyed lives and was a living death sentence in those days. We all know how Christ cleansed these 10 men with merely a word from His lips showing His gracious power and love. And we all know about how only one, a Samaritan, a foreigner to Israel, came back to Jesus to give thanks. I suppose you could say that it probably still holds true that only about 10% of the populace is truly thankful today, too. But the key wording that hit me this week was that last sentence: “Rise and go, your faith has made you well.”

Did this man feel guilty over the inadequacy of his thankfulness? Was he worried that it wasn’t enough considering the magnitude of Christ’s healing miracle? Was he so fixated on the physical that he overlooked the spiritual? Perhaps. But I’m guessing he was or would be. And so, Jesus, Who knows our every thought, comforts him with those words: “Rise and go, your faith has made you well.”

In other words, even our failures to feel and to be properly thankful and appreciative of all our blessings and the guilt that comes with it is wiped away by Christ! Faith is a “gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast” as St. Paul informs us. Faith is an undeserved gift which enables us to grasp hold of Christ’s entire pantheon of blessings in life that He won for us on the cross—the chief blessing being forgiveness for all sins and subsequent eternal life. So, by telling him this, Jesus was also taking away all the present and future guilt the man might have over not being thankful enough for his healing. In Christ’s eyes this Samaritan was “well.” It’s as if Jesus pronounced His benediction upon him. And if God’s Son says we’re “clear to go” well, who are we to doubt His wisdom?

So, like you, I stand this evening thankful. Thankful for all blessings—even those I overlook and sometimes take for granted. I’m thankful because like each of you, I am that Samaritan. So, when Jesus says: “Rise and go, your faith has made you well” He’s really speaking directly to me and to you! Amen