Pastor’s Reflection

One thing Americans of every political stripe seem to agree on is that we have a lot to
be thankful for. Thanksgiving Day, which has been a federal holiday since 1864, is still
honored by family gatherings in ways that other federal holidays are not. Many of us will
display our gratitude as we gather at Emmanuel Episcopal church or elsewhere to thank
God in prayer and song and in many services the preacher will read the story of “Jesus’
Healing of the Ten Lepers,” the text appointed for Thanksgiving every year.
As you may remember the story, ten people with a skin disease that ostracized them
from society called out to Jesus for mercy as he was passing them on the road. After he
healed them and sent them to get the official clean bill of health from the priests so they
could rejoin society, one of the ten turned back and praised God loudly. That’s where the
story ends. I wish we knew what happened next in the life of this solitary, grateful man but
he disappears into history. Did he have a big thanksgiving meal with his family and then go
back to work in his former trade or did his life take a different turn?
Of the 31 individual healings by Jesus in the Gospels we have the details of a few
besides the grateful leper. When Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, bed-ridden with some
type of fevered disease, she got up and started serving him! When he healed a man of a
demon who caused him to roam the graveyard howling and bruising himself with stones, he
begged to follow Jesus but was sent, instead, to the ten cities of the Decapolis where he
amazed people with his story of healing by Jesus. Days after Jesus restored life to Lazarus
and ordered him from the grave, his sister Mary was still so grateful that she bought
imported perfume from the Himalayas, at the cost of a year’s wage, and poured it on Jesus’
feet at a dinner party.
Maybe the question to ask ourselves this Thanksgiving is how does our thankfulness
affect us the rest of the year? Daily the news reminds us how fortunate we are to be spared
from fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and war. Daily we can remember that God walks with us
through the challenges we do have, promising strength and healing. Daily we can remember
that all the blessings of this life pale in comparison to joy of knowing we are loved and
cherished eternally by the grace of Jesus Christ.
This year, when the Thanksgiving holiday is over may we, like the people Jesus
healed, translate our gratitude into acts of service and love and look for ways to share our
faith so that others can know the joy of life-long gratitude for the presence of Christ in their
–Pastor Penny