Deuteronomy 26: 1-11          LUKE 17: 11-19

Hey!  Your guys.  Wait. Stop running, I can’t catch up to you.

Do you realize what’s happened?  Look at yourselves…go on look.  We’re clean.  There’s no open sores.  Look at your hands….your arms…your face…your legs.  There’s nothing there!  We are clean.  We have been healed.

Do you realize who that was?  That was the Messiah.  That was the one who came to heal all those with illnesses.  That Jesus is the one who will set free all those who are prisoners.

And that is us.  We needed to be healed, we needed to be set free and blessed by Jesus, we are!  We didn’t even know that Jesus was going to be around this area.

We have been truly blessed.  He just showed up.  And healed us.  We don’t even know him.  I mean we have heard about him.  It’s hard not to listen to those traveling through this area without hearing all those stories about Mary’s son, Jesus.

What a generous man he is.  He took the time to hear our pleas, and then he stretched out his hands, his clean hands and touched our dirty, open sores.                                                                                                                And when he removed his hands, there were no sores on our body.

Through his touch we have been given new life.  Our lives are now changed because of him.  Our lives have been wretched up until now.  I remember how when I was a child my family realized I was ill.  I wanted so much to help Mama that I ran up to her while she stood at the open fire.  I never saw that she was lifting off a pot of boiling soup.  When I ran up to her, it was just as she was turning, and the soup fell onto my arms and legs.  I cried, not because of the pain, but because I had caused Mama to spill our soup on the ground.  I felt no physical pain, just remorse at the accident.  I remember Mama and Papa wailing and crying and calling for priest.  None of my own family, neither my parents nor my brothers nor sisters would come near me.  No one would explain what was going on.  They just made me stay far away from them.  I just wanted to sit on Mama’s lap and hear her sing and rock me.  When the priest came, he banned me from entering the village or the temple ever again.  I was only 12.  I was left to fend for myself.  It was a few weeks later that some of you agreed to let me stay in your cave.  It was very lonely those first months. It was worse when you found out that I was actually from Samaria.  But then, you realized we all had leprosy, what did it matter where any of us came from?  We were all unclean in the eyes of the Lord.  I no longer had my Mama or Papa, instead I had a new family.  A family that cared for me.  You taught me new ways of living, ones that I had always been taught to despise.  You taught me how to beg…how to have a cracky whiny voice “Alms for the poor…alms for the poor.”, and how to reach my jar out in front of passersby at the city gate.

It broke my heart the first time I had to beg from my real family…and they just walked around me.  They didn’t even know I was their own child.

It was then I knew that I was alone, except for all of you.  Even when things were bad, somehow you made me laugh.  I will always be grateful for everything that you have taught me.  Most of all I am grateful for the love and acceptance you have given me.  May God bless you.

I forgot, God already has!  You have new life.  Isn’t it glorious!

Where were you running to when I caught up with you?  You were going back to you own real families.  Yeah, I guess you wouldn’t be caught dead with a Samaritan now, huh?

‘where was I?  Well, I was also running to my family, when I thought that maybe I should run back and thank the one who had made this new life possible for me.  It took me awhile to find the Messiah.  He is an amazing man isn’t he?

What did he say when I went back?  He was so kind.  He took my face in his hands and looked into my eyes, and all I could do was muster up a very weak thank you, and then I fell at his feet, my tears falling onto his sandals. He crouched down beside me, and kept stroking my head and back, saying “there, there, it’s all right now.  It’s all right now.  Your faith has made you clean again.”  I sat up and looked at him and said thank you again.

Then Jesus embraced me!

No one had touched me like that for almost 24 years!  The tears of joy overflowed again.  Then he stood up, dusted himself off, and then what he said, made me come back for all nine of you.  He said “weren’t there 10 of you?” I said, “Yes, Lord, there were.”  He looked around and then said “where are they?”  I said that maybe you had all run off to show the priest that you were now clean.  After all for some of you it has been over 30 years since you’ve been in a temple.  Jesus just shook his head and turned to walk away.

I asked him what was wrong.  “Are the other nine not as thankful as you?  Are they not grateful for the miracle God has performed in their lives?  Have they been forsaken for so long that they no longer have faith in the one who gave them life?”

I didn’t know what to say.  What could I say?  I just hung my head.  When I looked up again, Jesus was nowhere to be seen.  I called to him.  I wanted so much to follow him, and listen to his stories about people rejoicing over what they had found.  I realized we were not rejoicing over what we had found.

We have found life.  We have found the Messiah.  And if we do not praise God, and give thanks, we will lose him.  Do you want to lose him?  Do you?  I didn’t think so.

Then go.  Search for Jesus.  You will find him.  And when you do, give him thanks for what you have been given.  You will even receive more.  I know, what better thing have we been given than our lives, but there was something I could see in his eyes.  I’m not sure what it was, and I know I certainly don’t want to live without it.

We have had to beg for so long for what little we have been given that maybe we have lost out ability to thank God.  What do you think?

Yes, we need to go to the priest to prove that we have been healed, but we have waited so long to be able to go to the temple, what will another day or week matter?  What matters is our faith, and our willingness to be grateful.  You have been given so much, who do you find it so hard to say your thanks?

Don’t wait.  Don’t waste another moment in selfish gratitude.  Find Jesus, find the one who has given you life in abundance, and when you do, dance, sing, embrace him, just as his love and forgiveness has embraced you.

Where is he you’re asking?  If you look, you will find him.  Thanks be to God for all the many gifts of life we have received in the name of the Messiah, the Holy One.  Thanks be to God!!  Thanks be to God!!  Thanks be to God!!