"From the Pulpit" - Reflections on the Weekly Texts, from Pastor Greg at Living Lord Lutheran Church
On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19
Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the LORD Jesus Christ.
"On the way to Jerusalem". Hmm...I'm wondering what's going to happen to Jesus at Jerusalem. Any guesses? If you said his crucifixion, you would be right. Jesus is on his way to his own execution, and yet, he still is able to focus in order to deal with crowds who want to trick him, want him to heal them, and everything in between.
Here, he encounters 10 lepers. What do we know about leprosy in the time of Jesus? Yes, they were outcasts, unwanted, unclean, all because of what was then and now a debilitating and highly contagious skin condition that ultimately was fatal. Leprosy is still a disease on the 21st century. And how did the temple and others treat those with this disease? Couldn't touch. couldn't go near, couldn't even acknowledge them. And so, those with the disease ended up in "colonies" or "ghettos" with others who had the same disease, and were essentially left to fend for themselves or die, which many did.
But Jesus attends to them, and as they ask for mercy from him, what does he do? He says to the 10 to go to the local priests, and on the way, at some point between this encounter with Jesus and their arrival at the place of the priests, they were "made clean" - healed of their deadly disease. And one of the 10, seeing his own healing, out of gratitude, actually turns back and thanks Jesus, laying himself prostrate on the ground - face down out of complete and utter thanks. Gratitude. Maybe the other nine who were healed were grateful to Jesus, but only one showed their gratitude. Which brings me to the message today...GRATITUDE.
Tomorrow, during worship, we'll remember the clergy in our lives who raised us, baptized us, educated us in the faith. Those clergy who may have stayed by your parents' bedside as they drew their last breath. Those clergy who married you, confirmed you, worked with you when you were having trouble in your marriage, maybe. In short, those clergy who loved you in both good times and bad. Those clergy in whom you perhaps saw the love of God from time to time in this one human being.
During the prayers, we'll lift up aloud the names and some stories of clergy whom you remember and still love, living or deceased. Because through them, you felt the presence of the divine. And more. You'll have a chance to speak their name aloud, or in the silence of your own hearts. If you plan on attending worship tomorrow, bring in a story of them. Bring in a picture of them, or write their name on a piece of paper and we'll post it in the church, and give thanks for them. Gratitude. Being grateful for them.
The attached photo is from my church when I was a kid of about 5 or 6 or so. I remember my pastor, Pastor Marshall at the time (Methodist church.) I remember him not because of his sermons (I was sleeping or doodling or something to distract my parents and those around us), but because he let us kids run unattended in the church prior to worship - to ring the church bell/rope, to splash the water in the font, to touch the organ and piano, and to run behind the altar. I never forgot these things - to me, they were at the time, his way of showing his love for kids in church. I'm sure there were times when we wore his patience a little thin, but he thought having kids in church was a good thing - something that many clergy then and now don't necessarily agree with. And it's these memories of my early church that in some way has drawn me to this blessed work. I never forgot that.
Clergy Appreciation Sunday is normally a couple of Sundays from now, but we have some other business to attend to then, so we're doing all of this this Sunday. I hope you'll be able to be with us, and if not, maybe respond to this email with a memory, a name, a picture maybe of a clergy person in your life to whom you are grateful. Thanks.
Hope to see you tomorrow. I post some of my sermons on our church website, so check it out at www.livinglordlutheran.com.
P.S. Here is a picture of my church in Federalsburg, MD from the late '50's, where I was raised.
Hurricane Ian Relief - There are many ways to engage with hurricane relief for our friends over on the other coast, some of whom have connections to this church. However you choose to do it, please give as you are able. Lutheran Disaster Response, our church's social services agency responsible for dealing with such disasters, is already on the ground, and will be for many months or longer. They need our financial support to do their work. Check it out at www.elca.org and follow the link to Lutheran Disaster Response. And thanks!
Blessing of the Animals - We had a small but enthusiastic crowd last Sunday as we blessed and gave thanks to God for the animals in our lives. Roughly 10 animals and their owners gathered in the front of the church to receive a blessing from Pastor Greg, as their owners shared stories and enjoyed one another's company. Many thanks to all who donated stuff to take to H.A.L.O, in Sebastian. We had cat food, blankets, litter, and more donated.
Online Giving - Did you know that you can give to the church online, at our website? That's right. Just go to www.livinglordlutheran.com, and click on the "Give" link on the home page. And why not set up regular giving through your local banking institution? A good number of your LLLC'er's are already doing that. Save the hassle of writing a check every week or whatever. And you regular giving will greatly help the work of the church. It's easy.
The Rev. Dr. Neal Hively joins us tomorrow as our guest preacher. The church has contracted with him to help lead our congregation through some visioning/planning over the next few months, and you're part of the process. Tomorrow he kicks off his time with us from the pulpit. Pastor Greg will still be presiding. You'll hear more about this tomorrow and in the coming days.