This autumn, our worship follows our Church School curriculum, Seeking God Together. We are learning in worship alongside the youngest members of our community.
In Sunday’s Gospel story, we hear a story of ten men with skin diseases (assumed to be leprosy) who ask Jesus for help. The story explains that “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. Jesus replied, ‘Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.'”
“Where are the other nine?” Jesus asks…”going to the priests like you told them to, duh!” I want to answer back.
What are we to make of this story? I don’t think there is necessarily meant to be implied criticism of the nine who follow Jesus’ initial command to go and show themselves to the priests (after all, in those days, only a Priest could declare you healed from leprosy and thus ritually ‘clean’). I think we’re meant to focus more on the Samaritan who came back in gratitude. Given that the religion of the Samaritans diverged from the Jews during the Babylonian exile, maybe his traditions did not require a priestly declaration of health…who knows? All we know is that he turned back, filled with gratitude, and glorified God. Our curriculum writes, “When he realizes that he has been healed, he is filled with gratitude. This overflowing gratitude sends him back to Jesus to fulfill the quest—for worship and relationship with Jesus and his followers. This healed Samaritan is not shy about it. He praises God loudly; he falls at Jesus’ feet. He has been transformed. At the end of his quest, we see him whole, in full voice and full faith.”
Someone who least expected pity or healing, a Samaritan leper, received health and wholeness from a Jewish Rabbi- if that isn’t an illustration of God’s abundant love and care for the marginalized I don’t know what is…and I think therein might lie the seed of gratitude that rapidly grows into a majestic tree of faith. A faith that leads to wholeness, health, and interconnectedness with God and humanity.
And where does that leave us?
Join us for worship on Sunday morning at 11am in the Sanctuary and on YouTube to sing, pray, and find out together.
Autumn Worship Series
October 30 Saying Thanks (Luke 17:11-19; Colossians 3:14-17)
November 6 Crying Out, All Saints (Psalm 130; Book of Job)
Guest Speaker: Gerami Groover-Flores, Executive Director
Hamilton-Garrett Center for Arts & Music
November 13 Confessing (Psalm 21:1-8)
November 20 Celebrating (Psalm 11, 150)
Advent 1: November 27 “There’s room for every story” (Matthew 1:1-17, Isaiah 2:1-5)
image credit: The 10 Lepers, by artist Bill Hoover