St. Luke xvii. 11
AND it came to pass, as Jesus went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on a point to which Father Roddy alluded in his sermon on the above passage last Sunday and to build upon it a bit.
It has always seemed to me a little odd that Jesus asked the Samaritan, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” It seems to me that Jesus could have reasonably assumed that the nine were on their way to the Temple to show themselves to the priests just as He had commanded them to do. Having been healed, they would of course be eager to obey that order so that their healing could be officially verified and they could return to living a normal life. Jesus' words seem clearly to place a higher value on the Samaritan's glorification of God and gratitude to Jesus than on the other nine persons' obedience to His definite and explicit command. Does this mean that gratitude to God for the works of His Son Jesus is a higher and better path to Him than obedience is?
Obedience to God is rarely a simple task. Jesus' instructions to the healed lepers were perfectly clear and required no interpretation, but attempting to live one's whole life in accordance with God's will is quite another matter. All too often we struggle to know what God wants of us, and the choices before us all too often are difficult, if not impossible, to evaluate. Many of the choices we face present themselves as choices between multiple possible goods of which we can pursue only one or of multiple possible evils of which only some can be avoided.
Gratitude is by comparison a simple thing, but it has profound implications. It requires the acceptance of the fact that we are indebted to others, including God, for much of the good in our lives, and that acceptance makes for a certain degree of humility. Gratitude also binds us closer to the object of that gratitude. Obedience assumes that there already exists a relationship of power or authority between the one who orders and the one who receives the order, but gratitude can establish a relationship as well as strengthening and enriching an existing one.
None of this is meant to denigrate the importance of obedience; once one accepts Christ as Lord that acceptance includes a commitment to attempt to obey His commands in every aspect of our existence. Nevertheless we all know that through our own ignorance, weakness, or wilfulness we often fail to do so, and that knowing that painful truth can lead to a sense of despairing failure that is the opposite of Christian joy and poison to our souls' health.
Maintaining a grateful heart and mind, thanking God for all His many gifts to us, is a wonderfully effective antidote to that poison. It reminds us of His favor and goodness towards us despite our failings and binds us closer to Him through that appreciation. This in turn can make us stronger in faith and discernment and thus both more willing and more able to attempt to live in obedience to His will for us. This is perhaps why Saint Ambrose, fourth century bishop and theologian famously wrote, “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.”
REMEMBER THE WORDS OF THE LORD JESUS, HOW HE SAID, IT IS MORE BLESSED TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE
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Sunday, 10:30 AM, Sunday School
Monday September 26, 7:30 PM, Vestry Meeting, church undercroft
Wednesday at Noon – Holy Communion
Saturday, October 1, 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM, Blessing of the Animals (annual pet blessing -- please bring your pet and also invite family, neighbors and friends to bring their pets too; setup 8:30 AM)
Saturday, October 15, 8:30 AM, Men's Group, Breakfast & Bible Study, come enjoy a great breakfast, fellowship, and an interesting and thought provoking Bible study
Monday, October 24, 7:30 PM, Vestry Meeting, church undercroft
SAVE THE DATE: Wednesday, November 30, 7:00 PM, St. Andrew's Day -- Kirkin of the Tartans with bagpiper and Scottish music followed by festive reception with Scottish foods and beverages
Please pray for everyone on the parish's prayer list that is in the attached bulletins.
Donations to the Food Bank and Marih Center are greatly needed. Across the country, crisis pregnancy centers have been attacked or vandalized. The needs are great. Please help with either a goods donation or a monetary donation. You can give through the donation button in this newsletter and use the drop down menu to choose "Charity & Mercy." Thank you.
Please help this month with a food donation if you are able. Christ House is very thankful for the food we provide to them each month. Please also buy low sugar cereals (and not the kid's types that have lots of sugar). Current needs include the following:
• canned meats (chicken, corned beef, spam)
• peanut butter
• canned vegetables (corn, green beans - (regular and low sodium)
• individual fruit cups (low sugar)
• canned fruit (low sugar)
• cereal (low sugar)
• pasta (regular and gluten-free)
• instant potatoes
• Macaroni & cheese kits
• Coffee, cooking oil, flour, sugar
Updated List of Needs for MaRIH Center (crisis pregnancy center)
MaRIH Center with its all volunteer staff has been providing help to mothers-to-be and mothers in need. If you can provide some of the items that are needed, please do so. (You can leave the donations where the food for the food bank is collected on the pew in the undercorft.)
Baby wipes (an ongoing great need)
Diapers (sizes 1, 4, 5, & 6)
Clothing for boys and girls (0-6 months)
Sleep Sacks: Girls 0-6 mos.
Socks: Boy/Girl 2T
Diaper rash ointment
Aldi, Giant, Safeway & Walmart gift cards (for food!)
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