“When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they left, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw that he had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice. He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. He was a Samaritan…” -Luke 17:14-17 (CEB)
Can you believe it? We are nearing the end of 2023. We have arrived at the month of November, where we shift our focus and begin preparing our hearts for the Season of Advent (well, unless you are the Hallmark Channel, where they bypassed everything and are showing Christmas movies—it is not time yet!!!).
As I begin to think about the month of November, typically attributed to the month of Gratitude, I was reminded the other day regarding the power of saying THANK YOU. I was navigating the airport and needed to make a stop at the restroom. While washing my hands, I simply looked at the person servicing the restroom, and said “Thank you for your invaluable service, it is appreciated.” I was not doing it for any accolades. I have just felt more inclined lately to extend appreciation for those who are typically overlooked and underserved. This cleaning person began to well with tears, and I inquired more about the tears. They began to share that most people do not notice them, and for me to see them, made all the difference.
Friends, I am more convinced than ever we need to begin seeing all people, as beloved children of God, created with sacred worth, and appreciate the humanity they embody. I am convinced from reading much research, which suggests that loneliness and isolation are becoming a growing phenomenon in our culture, and more people are wanting to be seen. So, I have committed to ensure that no matter where I am, I will offer a simple means of gratitude and appreciation. These types of gestures cost me nothing but could change everything for someone.
I can imagine these were the effects, in part, to the text referenced above from Luke 17:11-19. I could imagine these ten lepers were overlooked for years and often shunned because of their skin condition. However, Jesus, on his way to Jerusalem, saw these persons as persons and not by their health problem. Jesus gave them a directive to follow in their process of healing, and they went in obedience; or it may have been desperation. Nevertheless, in response to being healed, only one, a foreigner, returned to say THANK YOU for the miracle. While there is so much more to unpack in this text, what arrests my attention most is this understanding that Jesus saw them…and the one who said Thank You!
I would challenge us, before we get too busy in the holiday season, to be intentional about seeing people through the lens of Jesus, to see people, not in judgement, but with the love of Jesus and compassion. May we see people, not as problems, but as children of God, made in God’s image, because we see that in ourselves. I would ask, in us seeing “all the people,” may we be overzealous in our attitude of gratitude and appreciation.
There is a quote that says, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” May we commit to not just saying we are followers of Jesus Christ, but may we live like followers of Jesus Christ. I would offer that was we commit to living and loving like Jesus, we will begin to see transformation in the world. Lord, may it be so!
In Gratitude and Service…
P.S. In the practice of expressing Thanks! I would like to THANK each and every clergyperson, lay person, and congregation for your continued commitment of being in service and on mission for Jesus Christ. I want to THANK every person who serves our Conference and District by lending your time and talents to ensure the work of ministry is carried forward. I want to THANK you all for your continued extravagant generosity in both the local church and in faithfulness to our Connectional responsibilities. I want to THANK all for your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness, as we continue to live out being United Methodists in Indiana and beyond…THANK YOU!