Sunday, October 11th, Harvest Thanksgiving, Action, not just words
Deuteronomy 8:7-18, Psalm 65, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, Luke 17:11-19
The two parts of Thanksgiving come together. In Corinthians Paul says that God loves a cheerful giver, and we have in the Gospel the Samaritan leper coming back to thank Jesus. He receiving the gift of healing with such thanks he had to feel a sense of cheerfulness and joy.
It is easy to understand the cheerfulness and joy of the one receiving the gift, whatever it is, but the one giving the gift? Giving away something, where is the cheerfulness in that?
Perhaps this comes back to relationship between the two parties. That the giver shares in the joy of the receiver and they feel good about helping the other person to feel good and are able to move forward in life.
The question becomes; where do we fit? Are we more likely to be the one who gives or receives?
That is a trick question; because we are both giver and receiver. May be we have difficulty asking for help, and would rather see ourselves as helping others, but we are both even though we have to swallow our pride to ask or accept help.
And where does what we give and use to support others, both financially and otherwise come from? All we have and are comes from God. This reminds me of the line from the prayer of St. Francis,
Make me a channel of your peace. In other words we are passing on what comes to us from God.
That is way I call this sermon Action, not just words.
Today, we celebrate thanksgiving, as we give thanks to God for all the blessings we have received, all the joys and wonders of life. Then ask ourselves the question; how do we extend the thanksgiving to becoming a cheerful giver, finding ways to share the blessings we are giving thanks for to others who can benefit from these blessings as well. I keep coming back to relationship with God and others. Perhaps we can be a little hard on the other nine, who maybe had a family and a community they could go back to, while the Samaritan, as an outcast, maybe was alone.
It may also take time for the other nine to realize what has happened to them and the implications. The story ends with the Samaritan coming back and giving thanks to Jesus, but is there more to the story we do not hear about? How often do we hear about people who face a life-threatening illness or another type of challenge or tragedy and they or a family member embarks on a journey to help others in the same or similar situation?
Perhaps what Jesus is getting at, to truly give thanks is to take the blessings to heart in such a way that we cannot go back to our lives as before. What we have been through has changed us so that we do not see the world the same, even though on the surface, nothing seems to have changed.
I hope and pray that Thanksgiving strengthens our relationship with God and others as our journey of faith continues.