Beloved Friends- This Sunday when we gather, we will hear a gospel lesson from Luke that always reminds me of a part of my childhood I dreaded a couple times a year; the dreaded thank you notes ritual following either Christmas or a birthday. It’s not that I was ever NOT grateful- I loved receiving gifts and always felt grateful, but it is not too strong of a word to say that I hated being summoned to the kitchen table to sit and write what felt like a mountain of notes. You would have thought I was being asked to write a thesis and not simply a 2-3sentence note thanking the person for the gift and their thoughtfulness. It was, and is still, a powerful gesture of gratitude that changes us from the inside out when we make the time (even begrudgingly).
My mother knew then what I could not I suppose, simply, how important it is for the receiver to give thanks. Maybe that’s one of the points of this story in the gospel as well. There is something that happens when our response to receiving is even a moment of acknowledgement; a time in which we remember something of what it means to be connected to others and the gifts we receive- spiritual as well as material.
Now, let me be abundantly clear, I am still AWFUL about sitting down to write thank you notes- and some of you reading this today are certainly owed one, but I do know, in the depth of my being, how meaningful it is to take and make the time to practice giving thanks. (So, just to cover my bases- thank you, thank you, thank you!)
Then one of them, when he saw he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice…Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?”
I don’t know about you, but more often than not, I have found myself to be one of the nine- those who after receiving a gift along the way, has not always remembered to turn around and give thanks. On behalf of the nine, I also want to say that this doesn’t mean we aren’t grateful, just a little spiritually forgetful and maybe a tad-bit too self-absorbed. We’re also really busy people, right? And maybe the one who went back just doesn’t have as many “important” things to do as we do, right? Wrong. Time is all we have and recently a new friend reminded me that how we spend our time is how we spend our lives. Taking time to give thanks is a great way to spend a some time.
So, just for a moment, I invite you to imagine you are sitting at the equivalent of your “kitchen table,” a beautiful thank you note is before you ready to go- already stamped and addressed to the God who is the source of love in your life. Take a minute, get past the embarrassment of not knowing what to say, and just start writing- say thank you for a particular gift, blessing, challenge, person, healing, or awareness. Don’t think too much, just write…
Time’s up, pens and pencils down- you did it! Ahhhh, now don’t you feel better?
Come home this Sunday when we will gather around the Table set for us each week and together we will, through our liturgy, songs and prayers, lift our voices and say thank you, thank you, thank you. What could be better?
May you never forget that you are loved.