|Epiphany, Year A||January 6, 2020||The Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 2:1-12|
|Christmas 2, Year A||January 5, 2020||Christmas II, Year A||Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23; Ephesians 1:3-6,15-19a; Psalm 84|
|Christmas Eve, Year A||December 24, 2019||The Eve of the Nativity||Luke 2:14|
|Advent 3, Year A||December 15, 2019||Advent 3, Year A||Isaiah 35:1-10|
|Advent 2, Year A – the Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||December 8, 2019||Advent 2, Year A||Matthew 3:1-12|
|Advent 1, Year A||December 1, 2019||First Sunday of Advent, Year A||Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44|
|Last Pentecost, Year C||November 24, 2019||Last Pentecost, Christ the King||Luke 23:33-43|
|Pentecost 23, Year C||November 17, 2019||Pentecost 23, Year C, Proper 28||Luke 21:5-19|
|Pentecost 22, Year C||November 10, 2019||Pentecost 22, Proper 27, Year C||Job 19:23-27a, Luke 20:38|
|All Saints, Year C||November 3, 2019||All Saints’ Sunday, Year C 2019||Luke 6:20-31|
|Pentecost 20, Year C||October 27, 2019||Pentecost 2, Proper 25, Year C||2 Timothy 4:6-8|
|Pentecost 19, Year C||October 20, 2019||Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 24||Luke 18:1-8|
|➤Pentecost 18, Year C||October 13, 2019||Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||Psalm 111, Luke 17:11-19|
|Pentecost 17, Year C – Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||October 6, 2019||Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||2 Timothy 1:1-14,Luke 17:5-10|
|Season of Creation 5, Year C||September 29, 2019||Season of Creation 5, Year B||Proverbs 8:22-31, Ephesians 1:3-10, Luke 24:13-35|
Pentecost 18, Year C
Sermon Date:October 13, 2019
Scripture: Psalm 111, Luke 17:11-19
Liturgy Calendar: Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C
“Ten Lepers” – James Christensen (2012)
Today’s psalm opens with these words.
Hallelujah! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation.
Giving thanks to God is even better than taking those powerful Eusana vitamins that Eunice swears by! Giving thanks to God is good all the way around—for our bodies, for our minds, and for our spirits.
So when we give thanks, the first thing to give thanks for is for God, who gives us life.
God feeds us.
God is faithful. God is just. All of God’s commandments are sure.
And God is gracious and full of compassion, and God’s righteousness endures forever.
Here’s a little refresher from the catechism in the back of our prayer book—the definition of grace. “Grace is God’s favor towards us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.”
When we make our best effort to be gracious to others as God has been gracious to us, and when we have compassion, that deep bonding in mind and spirit with the other person or creature in its place of need, then we find that we not only draw closer to one another, but we also draw closer to God. And our walk on this earth becomes more righteous.
And as Christians, we are thankful for Jesus, who in his life with us showed us how to live as gracious and compassionate people, how to live as merciful and healing people. Jesus came to save us from ourselves.
And we give thanks that through Jesus we never leave God’s presence, grace and compassion for us, not even in death.
We are reminded of God’s graciousness and compassion every Sunday when we gather and celebrate the Eucharist. The word “Eucharist” comes from the Greek word to give thanks.
And another refresher from the catechism—the benefits we receive from coming to the Lord’s table each week are the forgiveness of our sins, the strengthening of our union with Christ and one another, and the foretaste of the heavenly banquet.
Our belief as Christians is that everlasting life is a new existence, in which we are united with all the people of God, in the joy of finally fully knowing and loving God and one another.
I want to give thanks today for this congregation. Over time, day in and day out, spending time with one another glorifying and praising God draws us closer together in bonds of love.
The service for John Sellers yesterday is a great example of how we glorify God here by caring for one another. So many people did so much to make yesterday’s service one of comfort for John’s family—the offerings of food, lovingly prepared; the music, serving in the kitchen, the dishwashing, the yardwork and cleaning ahead of time, the fact that you were present in the congregation for the service; these things, great and small, that we did yesterday, first and foremost, gave glory to God and brought grace and compassion to those who came here yesterday seeking comfort in the Lord.
I want to thank all of you for all you did yesterday.
But we also give thanks to God when we enjoy one another’s presence in worship. Our love for one another is in itself an act of praise, for this love we share in the congregation is a hint of that love shared at the heart of the Trinity, the eternal circle of love that is at the heart of all love.
Think a minute of what you love about worshipping here in this place with these people. My list is so long—and something about each one of you is on my list—something I enjoy when I’m with you that makes me give even more praise to God as we worship together.
Here are a few examples from the younger people in our congregation. Not too many Sundays ago, Zeke Fisher got brave and gave his pet food announcement—and you all cheered him on. I love that. Once Evan Davis told me that his favorite part of the worship service was when he gets the bread. Yes! And remember a few years ago when Alexander would say Amen a beat after everyone else and I loved hearing that echo. And the Duke boys serving as acolytes with such concentration—these are just a few examples of how being here gives me such deep joy.
I could go on about every one of you—something I love about you that makes me want to come here and worship each week, something that makes worship less complete for me when you’re not here–but then this sermon would get way too long.
But think about it. As we take delight in one another, we are reminded of the delight that God takes in each one of us. Think about how the people you worship with each Sunday bring you delight and help you to delight even more deeply in God.
Yes, God delights in us–just as we are, while hoping and encouraging us to continue to grow into God’s purposes for us, and that’s how we are to delight in one another.
That leper we heard about in today’s gospel—that man had not one, but two strikes against him. First of all, he had the dread disease of leprosy, so he was shunned and avoided out of fear. But even worse, he was a Samaritan, so people shunned and avoided him out of hatred because he was different. He wasn’t like they were.
Jesus loved that Samaritan leper without any reservation. And Jesus healed that Samaritan leper just like he healed the other nine who were Jewish.
No wonder this leper came back to thank Jesus.
All of us have strikes against us that create distance between us and other people. And we avoid others and distance ourselves from others for a whole variety of reasons.
So Jesus reminds us—even the ones we’d like to avoid are the ones that Jesus loves. And our calling as those that God delights in is to be people of grace and compassion to one another, even when we’d rather not.
One more comment from the catechism regarding the Eucharist—
“It is required of us when we come to the Eucharist that we should examine our lives, repent of our sins, and be in love and charity with all people.”
These requirements are the requirements of living a gracious and compassionate life. And praise to God helps us to each of these things.
When we praise God, then we can’t help but examine those places in our lives that are the unhappy places, and even if we find that our hearts have grown hard and unrepentant, God accepts the prayer that offers up a hard heart, but then asks for the desire to repent! When we intentionally think about how we can thank God for all things, including the hard things like our bodies falling apart, or the illness of someone we love, or when we can give thanks for an argument or disagreement we’re having with someone, we factor God, hope and new life into those situations that would otherwise suck the life out of us. And we find that we come closer to being in love and charity with all people.
As Paul says in his first letter to the Thessalonians, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Centuries later, St Julian of Norwich said “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
And all SHALL be well.
When we praise our God, we remember that God’s deeds are great, that God’s work is full of majesty and splendor, that God makes marvelous works to be remembered, that God never forgets God’s covenant of love with us, that the works of God’s hands are faithfulness and justice to us, that God is always sending us redemption, that God LOVES us! And that God even loves the people we have trouble loving. And that God’s loving and healing are for everyone without reservation.
So Hallelujah! We WILL give thanks to the Lord with our whole hearts, in the assembly of the upright, in this congregation.
Resource: The Book of Common Prayer