Sermons 2007
"The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19

Home | In the Beginning was the Word, Christmas Day, 25 December 2007, John 1:1-14 | What's Missing? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, Luke 2:1-20 | Joseph, the Forgotten One, Advent 4A, 23 December 2007, Matthew 1:18-25 | Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11 | Darkness or Light? Advent 1A, 2 December 2007, Matthew 24:37-44 | What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43 | Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19 | Just passing through? Proper 27C , 11 November 2007, Luke 20:20-38 | Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14 | "We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a | "The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19 | Proper 22C and Holy Baptism, 7 October 2007 | A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31 | We hear what we want to hear, Proper 20C, 23 September 2007, Luke 16:1-13 | "Lost -- but found!" Proper 19C, 16 September 2007, Luke 15:1-10 | "Who is coming to dinner?" Proper 17C, 2 September 2007, Luke 14:1, 7-14 | Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30 | "Fire to the earth", Proper 15C, 19 August 2007, Luke 12:49-56 | "Do not be afraid, little flock', Proper 14C, 12 August 2007, Luke 12:32-40 | "How much is enough?" Proper 13C , 5 August 2007, Luke 12:13-21 | "Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13 | "The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42 | The Good Samaritan -- the Summary of the Law" Proper 10C, 15 July 2007, Luke 10:25-37 | "Travel Light!" Proper 9C, 8 July 2007, Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 | "Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62 | "Three Questions", Proper 7C, 24 Jun 2007, Luke 9:18-24 | "In or Out?" Proper 6C, 17 June 2007, Luke 7:36-50 | "On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17 | Trinity C, 3 June 2007 | Pentecost C, 27 May 2007 | "Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26 | "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29 | "What is this thing called love?" Easter 5C, 6 May 2007, John 13:31-35 | "Numbers and Sheep", Easter 4C, 29 April 2007, John 10:22-30 | Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10 | Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31 | ""Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, Luke 24:1-10 | Good Friday 6 April 2007 | Maundy Thursday 5 April 2007 | Why are we not surprised? Palm/Passion Sunday C, 1 April 2007, Luke 22:39-23:50 | Party or Pout? Lent 4C, 18 March 2007, Luke 15:11-32 | To Stand on the Mountaintop, Lent 3C, 11 March 2007, Exodus 3:1-15 | "Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35 | "Liminal Thresholds and Lintels", Lent 1C, 25 February 2007, Luke 4:1-13 | Ash Wednesday Meditation 2007 | "Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36 | "Weal and Woe", Epiphany 6C, 11 February 2007, Luke 6:17-26 | "Who, me?" Epiphany 5C, 4 February 2007, Luke 5:1-11 | "Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32 | "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us," Epiphany 3C, 21 January 2007, Luke 4:14-21 | "Weddings and Miracles," Epiphany 2C, 14 January 2007, John 2:1-11 | Schism and Epiphany, Epiphany 1C, 7 Dec 2007, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Proper 23C 2007 Luke 17:11-19

The ten lepers. What are we to do with this parable? It seems so simple and straightforward on the surface, doesn’t it? Of course, it’s obvious that it’s about gratitude and ingratitude. After all, our own experience with the use of discretionary funds bears this out: far fewer than ten per cent of the recipients of our help have ever bothered to thank us. Three stories and some commentary:

One day an observer of the human condition conducted a small unscientific experiment. As he was driving through town he decided to take every opportunity he could to be a courteous driver. He would stop to let other cars make their turns and let pedestrians cross the street. He wanted to see how many people would say "thank you" or even barely acknowledge his little acts of kindness.

Out of eleven people who benefited from his kindness on the road, only two nodded or waved to say "thank you." The rest kept on going, as if whatever he was doing for them didn't matter at all. He concluded that most of us are like the nine lepers in the story, or the people he saw driving the other day. Our hearts aren't thankful enough. We don't say "thank you" often enough for the kindnesses, large and small, which are given to us every day.

He doesn’t recommend that others do this experiment themselves. If you start acting like a courteous driver and actually share the road with other people, the authorities might send you away for psychiatric observation. (1)

But in last Sunday’s Gospel Jesus reminded us sharply not to expect gratitude: “Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, `We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'”

Of the several messages that passage sends, surely one is that we begin with gratitude within ourselves. I’m reminded of the message that appeared one day on a butcher paper easel in the parish Hall: “Gratitude is the attitude!”

Dr. Richard Carlson, a noted stress consultant in private practice, has written a delightful little book entitled, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff...and it’s all small stuff:

In the essay, “Spend a moment every day thinking of someone to thank”, Carlson gives this advice: “this simple strategy, which takes only a few seconds to complete, has long been one of the most important habits I have ever engaged in. I try to remember to start my day thinking of someone to thank [God, family, friends, people from your past]. To me gratitude and inner peace go hand in hand. The more genuinely grateful I feel for the gift of my life, the more peaceful I feel. Gratitude, then, is worthy of a little practice....

“The point is to gear your attention toward gratitude, preferably first thing in the morning. I learned a long time ago that it’s easy to allow my mind to slip into various forms of negativity. When I do, the first thing that leaves me is my sense of gratitude.... What this exercise reminds me to do is to focus on the good in my life.”

In a "Peanuts" comic strip, Lucy and her brother Linus have just finished a chicken dinner, and Lucy is explaining to Linus how wishing on the wishbone works: "This is a wishbone, Linus," she says. "We both make our wishes and then we pull it apart. Whoever breaks off the biggest part gets his wish." Lucy begins the wishing. "Let's see now, I wish for a new doll, a new bicycle, four new sweaters, a wrist watch, and about one hundred dollars."

Linus then gets his turn. "I wish for long life for all my friends, I wish for peace in the world, I wish for great advancements in the fields of science and medicine, and ..." In disgust, Lucy throws away the unbroken wishbone and snarls at Linus, "You seem to have a knack for spoiling everything." (2)

The wise Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810), a great-grandson of the founder of the Hasidic movement, summed it up once when he wrote that "When asked how things are, don't whine and grumble about your hardships. If you answer 'Lousy,' then God says, 'You call this bad? I'll show you what bad really is!' When asked how things are and, despite hardship or suffering, you answer 'Good,' then God says, 'You call this good? I'll show you what good really is!'" (3)


1. Our Hearts Aren't Thankful Enough”, eSermlons Illustrations for 14 October 2007
2. MIRACLE OF LOVE, Sunday Sermons, Voicings, October 10, 2004
3. Moshe Mykoff, The Empty Chair: Finding Hope and Joy (Woodstock, Vt.: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1994), 34-35, as quoted in the Dailiness of Healing Measures, Homiletics On Line