Thanks! - Reflection - 10-6-16

 Texts for Sunday October 9, 2016

 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c
 Psalm 111
 2 Timothy 2:8-15
 Luke 17:11-19

 If you are around parents and children much, you will definitely hear at one time or another the parents tell the little one “Now, what do you say?” when the child receives something from someone. Giving thanks is something that is taught early in life.

But, as children grow to be youth and adults, it seems that there is a disconnect from a “lesson learned” and heart-felt gratitude. When I get a thank you note for some gift or deed, I can tell which one is writing out of obligation - mom is insisting on a thank you note – and which seems to have caught the gratitude bug, offering genuine thanks. I wonder what causes the difference. Is there a gratitude gene?

In the Gospel reading, one of the ten people who were healed of leprosy, returns to praise God and thank Jesus. Jesus had sent all of off to priests; they were the ones who would declare the ten healed and allow them back into the community. But one of them saw that he was healed and he turned back. So... does that mean the other nine were not grateful for healing? They didn’t have the right gene? Hard to imagine. This healing wasn’t just a “get well” moment, it was a restoration to the community and a full life. It really wasn’t a gift that would be taken for granted.

So what’s the point? Remember this story is told in Luke. Remember that Luke sees situations from the vantage point of those who were outsiders. And then look carefully at who it is that returned to give thanks. Oh! it’s another Samaritan! Like the Good Samaritan of chapter 10, this Samaritan, this outcast, is a model for us; one models mercy and the other, faithfulness. 

Note: The Old Testament story from 2 Kings which is paired with this text from Luke, the shows another outsider – this one from Syria - who recognizes God’s work in his healing.

Long ago and far away, when I was just starting out, the congregation to which I was called was reading together the book Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer by Brother David Stendl-Rast. It had some great thoughts like “Our mind can recognize a gift as a gift, but only our heart can rise to gratefulness.” Hmmm. Might be a clue there about how humans get the gratefulness bug? 

But this next quote from David Steindl-Rast (from a TED talk) ties our Lukan themes to the concept of gratitude:

It can change our world in immensely important ways, because if you're grateful, you're not fearful, and if you're not fearful, you're not violent. If you're grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people, and you are respectful to everybody, and that changes this power pyramid under which we live.

So, what do you think? You can write your comments below.

For more reflections on these texts, see the G.I.F.T. post for Sunday, October 9, 2016

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