"Go Ahead, Slurp Your Soup" – Luke 17:11-19
On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean.
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."
I’d like to begin by playing a little video about Thanksgiving; perhaps this will touch on some nostalgia for some of you. But don’t give in to the nostalgia; pay attention to the message.
“Could you wish for more?”
Kind of creepy, right? Ironic how the words happy, glad, and fun occur a dozen times and yet none of those adjectives can describe a single person in the film! They’re too concerned about having good table manners and eating soup without making a sound that they can’t be happy, glad, or fun.
I was drawn to this video because it says something about a life spent going through the motions, pursuing happiness through strict rule-following; living with an understanding that other peoples’ quality of life will be improved if you don’t bother them with the sound of slurping soup.
Yes, I think we can wish for more.
I think we ARE wishing for more.
As my mind turned towards thinking about Thanksgiving this year, I thought of...
...the woman who will experience her first holiday without her mom, who died last month;
...the couple who will experience their first Thanksgiving after their divorce;
...the neglected who will watch another holiday come and go without a single word of love and encouragement from another person;
...the families who will sit in uncomfortable silence, lest someone say something that ignites the powder keg of dysfunctional family dynamics;
...those grateful for a day off from a job that destroys their souls;
...or the unemployed, who would give anything to return to their jobs, whether they were meaningful or not.
For Thanksgiving this year, let’s wish for more; more than having good table manners, not slurping our soup, and not being a bother to our dinner guests. Instead, let’s wish for mercy.
Today’s Gospel story reassures us that we are free and encouraged to approach Jesus, calling out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
Just like like the ten lepers in today’s gospel, we can and will be made clean.
All ten of the lepers who sought mercy received mercy and healing. But here’s where it gets interesting – only one of the healed ex-lepers saw that he was healed. Only one of the healed ex-lepers returned to Jesus with the profound thanks and praise of one who has been saved.
Everyone who seeks mercy will receive it; but not everyone will notice it is there. Failure to notice the mercy in our life – the presence of God in our life – will cause us to search for mercy elsewhere, be it in a bottle of alcohol or pills, an abusive relationship, the false comfort of material wealth, isolation from others, or any other number of possible alternatives.
Could we wish for more?
How about wishing to have the faith of the one leper who bothered to stop, take a look around, and realize that our afflictions are not our identity; the faith of the one leper who realized that he was healed; the faith of the one leper who returned to the source of healing, feel to his knees, and thanked Jesus; the faith of the one leper who stood back up and went on his way, “made whole, restored, drawn back into relationship with God and humanity.”
“Thanksgiving is about seeing all that we have been given and rejoicing in a way that cannot help but shape how we act.”*
May your Thanksgiving celebration be an occasion to stop, reflect, and realize the grace that is in your life. May your Thanksgiving celebration look less like the kids staying quiet so the dinner guests can be happy, and more like this: