HT BCP 8am 2 Kings 5.9-16, Psalm 118.1-9, Galatians 5.16-24, Luke 17.11-19 Homily 28th August 2016
If we had hymns in this service I would have chosen Great is thy faithfulness as it has the lovely refrain which reads
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided;
great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
The hymn conveys sheer joy and gratefulness towards God. A thankfulness of God at work in the world. I wonder too if this sense of exuberant thankfulness was in the heart of Leper that turned back to thank Jesus for healing him? Healing for him meant more than being healed physically of his leprosery. Being healed made him whole, of enabling to return to his family, friends and society. Being healed meant he could return to the synagogue to worship God. The gospel of Luke shows once again Jesus’ attitude to the outsider. To the those who have been somehow rejected and separated from society and from living a full life. Now this healed man is given the gift of a full life and he is so grateful he pauses, stops for a moment and turns back to Jesus. Luke doesn’t say that the other were less healed but rather wants to highlight this man’s humility and gratitude. The way Jesus responds to this man’s thankfulness pushes further how faith and gratitude go hand in hand. Jesus tells the man to rise up and go. Such words would have been recognised by the early Christians as having to do with resurrection. For indeed the man was for all intents and purposes dead. His leprosy meant he had no life, no interaction with others and no sense of belonging to anything. Now he has been healed and given a new lease of life. Jesus says his faith has healed him. Did the man know when he woke up that day that he had such a faith? Well, when the moment came, he believed that God was working through Jesus and trusted God would heal him. He didn’t have a vague religious ideal of faith. He had an active, humble sense of the reality of what believing in God really means. He believed that God is the giver of all things and we know this too. God provides all things; our food, our friends, our families (even those we don’t care too much for), the music we enjoy, the smile on a loved one or even a stranger. Even the air we breathe is a gift from God. For all these wonders do we remember to thank God? Or do we focus too much on the darkness of the world? Perhaps then, the act of listing the blessings we receive and naming them before God, giving thanks for all He is given is a way into remembering the goodness in the world and in our lives. By recalling all the good things in our lives we can realise how God is acting and working in our world. Our faith can be revitalised, deepened and strengthened as we continue onward in the rhythm of faith and gratitude. Being a Christian is all about being caught up in this rhythm of faith and gratitude. Of trusting God is at work in our lives even when we can’t see it.
When you go home I invite you to have a go at listing your blessings and thanking God for each one. Then perhaps in a week or months’ time, make another list. Are the lists the same? Or have they changed? Either way, you will see how God has blessed you and continues to bless you every day.