Scripture: Luke 17: 11-19
Key verses: (12-15)
12As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice.
Reflection: Sometimes a Bible story comes along at just the right time. I sat down to write this devotion with a swirling brain. I didn’t sleep well, and am cranky about it. I suspect it has to do with getting older, and I’m cranky about that too. Still processing an email exchange from yesterday where I think I was misunderstood. Approaching a difficult family anniversary date, 20 years on, and mad/sad/bewildered by it still. There are ten different big projects on my to-do list and unfortunately, like everyone else, I can only do one thing at a time.
And suddenly here are these ten lepers who are healed by Jesus. All are saved from a devastating and isolating illness. Only one came back to say thank you, and that one—a Samaritan—was the least likely hero. Jesus offers an additional word of grace to him. Not only is he healed, but also his faith had made him well in another deeper way. And suddenly I wonder: what if gratitude is the answer, even if we aren’t sure what the questions are? Could gratitude make us well when we are off track, even just cranky?
Lately I’ve been enjoying David Lose’s commentaries on scripture. He’s the President of Lutheran Theological Seminary. Lose says this: “Gratitude is not a command, it’s an invitation, one God never tires of making.” And when we choose gratitude, and actively practice it, we strengthen the muscle-memory of thanksgiving which can change us and heal us. By God’s grace, we get better at it, and enable others around us to choose it as well. Lose describes a colleague who always responds to the question, “How are you?” with the answer, “I’m grateful.” My plan is to practice that response this summer, and in that small way, respond to God’s invitation to thanksgiving and healing. Perhaps some of you will join me.
Prayer: Dear God, I am grateful. For a safe home, and plenty to eat, and family and friends. I’m grateful for meaningful work and supportive colleagues, and a church family. I’m grateful for stories like this one that speak your word of grace and invitation in new ways even when I’ve read them over and over. Help me practice gratitude in a way that might change me, and be grace to others who need it too. In the name of Christ the healer, I pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].