Thank You, Expressions of Gratitude, Part 1

 11.10.2019 Rev. Jennifer Hageman
(please click on the link above to view the sermon on Facebook)

Although we often come to church and receive a lesson reminding us of things we should be doing as followers of Christ, how often are we sent home with a homework assignment? Although many probably didn’t enjoy homework when we were in school, the one Pastor Jen gives us will bring us and other important people in our lives joy and gratefulness. 

Pastor Jen begins the first in her new sermon series “Expressions of Gratitude” with a lesson simply entitled, “Thank You.” The opening hymn “God of the Sparrow God of the Whale” sets the tone for the message by reminding us that God created everything and everyone, and we all in our own way should find a way to praise and show our gratitude to our Maker. 

The scripture associated with this lesson comes from Luke 17, which tells the story of Jesus healing 10 lepers, people whose devastating disease left them physically, emotionally, and relationally isolated, as they were not allowed to touch anyone, work, or even attend synagogue. The lepers cried to Christ, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” the first time He was called “Master” in the New Testament scriptures by anyone other than His disciples. After healing, then instructing the lepers to the priest to be deemed healed and cleaned, only one, a Samaritan, someone reviled by the Jews, returned to thank Jesus. Although the other nine were healed physically, according to the original text, the one who returned was also made well, or saved. 

Like the Samaritans, we are all sin-sick unclean before God, and isolated from Him until Jesus heals, cleanses, and saves. He sees past our disfigurement to see the beauty underneath. We need to recognize our need for Him and ask Him for His mercy. As clarification, Pastor Jen reminds us that mercy is not getting what we deserve, while grace is being given what we don’t deserve. God freely offers us His grace and delights in showing mercy to us. Saving faith is not just calling on Jesus’ name and believing, however, as in the example of the nine lepers. It is about religion versus relationship, as exemplified by the one leper who returned. Nine trusted Jesus would heal them, but were more concerned with the dictates of religion, as they rushed to be declared clean by the priest; whereas the one who returned to be in communion with Christ was saved. 

So, we come to our homework for this week: saying thank you. Pastor Jen challenges each of us to turn to God and express gratitude to him for five different things each night before going to bed, and to write a thank you note to someone every week, offering gratitude for something kindness they may have done, or just to connect with someone we haven’t talked with for a long while. “Take time as people of faith to cultivate an attitude of gratitude as we acknowledge God, our Creator and Redeemer,” says Pastor Jen in closing.