Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving – the quintessential American Holiday

Thanksgiving Day
November 29, 2019
Luke 17:11–19  
“Thanksgiving – The Quintessential American Holiday”

Ten lepers cry out to Jesus with one voice: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” All ten share in the same condition. They are all leprous. They are all outcasts. Cut off from society. All of them.  Have faith in Jesus to heal them. “Have mercy on us!

"Ten" is a perfect number. All together. They cry out for mercy. But at a distance. They have nothing left to lose.

Lepers were like death-row inmates. They were as good as dead. Dead men walking. For death itself was in their flesh. Lesions. Sores. And scabs. Bore witness to their decay. As living symbols of death. They were unclean. As such. They were shunned from society. They were cast out of the community. Barred access to home. Market. And synagogue. 

Their leprosy made them dead to family and friends. Leprosy made them dead to religious practice. Only a cure for their leprosy could bring them life. But cures were rare. So rare, in fact. That the rabbis of the day considered the cure of a leper equivalent with raising a person from the dead. Lepers were the living dead.

These men  didn’t call out to Jesus just to say “Hello.” They called out because they were sick. In fact dying a very slow death. And it is precisely those people. Whom our Lord came to rescue. Perhaps the greatest virtue of the Samaritan was his sense of self. The man knew precisely what he was. And what he needed. More to the point. He knew where to get it. [1] 

All ten are cleansed by Jesus. The skin of every leper is restored. As they go their way to the Temple. Only the Samaritan, however, goes back to Jesus to give thanks. And Jesus commends him for his faith. 

Rise and go your way,” says Jesus. “Your faith has made you well.”  Rise up. Go. And keep going.  Your faith has. And continues to save you. Faith is always busy and active.

Jesus doesn’t give the Samaritan any direction.  He simply says “Rise and go.” The implication is that the Samaritan can go wherever he wants. He worships God in Spirit and Truth. He doesn’t need to go to the Temple. Or the priests in Jerusalem. He is not merely cleansed of leprosy. He is also saved. His soul is clean. He is reconciled to God. There is no one to accuse him.

Today is Thanksgiving – the quintessential American Holiday. In the midst of the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln declared that a grateful nation would simply pause to give thanks to God. That is why you have gathered here today. As the people of this parish have gathered - for the past one-hundred fifty-six years. 

We pause to give thanks. To the one who has shown mercy. To the one who could have left us dead in our trespasses and sin. But instead determined to save and redeem us. 

Not with a wave of His hand. But with hands and feet which were pierced. And a side which was wounded. And with a back which was scared by the whip of and an oppressor. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.’ 1 Peter 2:24

Jesus took responsibility for our sin. By taking our curse. (Galatians 3:13) Our penalty. (2 Corinthians 5:21) Our consequences. (Matthew 27:46) Our punishment. (Isaiah 53:5).  

Nine were hesitant to give Jesus the glory. This stranger. This outcast.   The one who had no purpose. And no status. Returned to give thanks. 

Secure then of His promises. Let us believe the past. Recognize the present. Hope for the future. ‘The blessing of the Lord are for evermore. Amen and Amen.’ (Psalm 89. 51) Thanks to His mercy. Thanks to His grace. We express our thanks. We do not give them. Nor return them. Nor repay them. We express our thanks in words. He saved us for no reward. He heeded not our impieties. He searched us out. When we searched not for Him. He found. Redeemed. Emancipated us from the bondage of the devil. And the power of wicked angels.[2] 

Almighty God, in fulfillment of the promise made to David’s descendants You established a lasting covenant through Your firstborn Son. You anointed Your servant Jesus with holy oil and raise Him higher than all kings on earth. Remember Your covenant, so that we who are signed with the blood of Your Son may sing of Your mercies forever; through Jesus Christ Your Son.” Amen  [3] 
Words - 860
Passive Sentences – 6%
Readability – 86.3
Reading Level-2.7

[1] From a sermon delivered by Pr. Ken Kelly Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity posted 9.18.2019 via facebookTM

[2]  St Augustine on the Gospel (From Exposition on the Psalms  in Vol. VIII, NPNF) Exposition of Psalm 89:51  Psalm passages related to Ingratitude and Thankfulness
[3] Collect for Psalm 89, For All The Saints, A Prayer Book For and by the Church © 1995 the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY 

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