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Sermon for Luke 17:11-19   -   Giving Thanks Before Thanksgiving
Pentecost 19 - The Ten Healed of Leprosy
           

Greg Anderson, in Living Life on Purpose tells a story about a man whose wife had left him. He was completely depressed. He had lost faith in himself, in other people, in God--he found no joy in living. One rainy morning this man went to a small neighborhood restaurant for breakfast. Although several people were at the diner, no one was speaking to anyone else. Our miserable friend hunched over the counter, stirring his coffee with a spoon.

In one of the small booths along the window was a young mother with a little girl. They had just been served their food when the little girl broke the sad silence by almost shouting, "Momma, why don't we say our prayers here?" The waitress who had just served their breakfast turned around and said, "Sure, honey, we pray here. Will you say the prayer for us?" And she turned and looked at the rest of the people in the restaurant and said, "Bow your heads." Surprisingly, one by one, the heads went down. The little girl then bowed her head, folded her hands, and said, "God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food. Amen."

That prayer changed the entire atmosphere. People began to talk with one another. The waitress said, "We should do that every morning."

"All of a sudden," said our friend, "my whole frame of mind started to improve. From that little girl's example, I started to thank God for all that I did have and stop majoring in all that I didn't have. I started to be grateful."

We all understand and appreciate the importance of gratitude. How it can radically change relationships. In fact, one of the first things we got taught and that we teach our children is to express their gratitude. Some one gives them some candy and we parents say: "Now what do you say?" And the child learns early in life that the answer is "Thank you." And certainly we all know as adults that we appreciate being thanked by people. Yet, when it comes to giving thanks to our heavenly father, we so often miss the mark.

When it comes to this issue of giving our thanks to God, I don't suppose there is any story in the Bible that is so endearing to us, so timelessly appropriate, as the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers. We have all heard the story many times, but like so many Bible stories, we never tire of it.

The story begins: "And as he entered a certain village there met him ten lepers, and they stood at a far distance..
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