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Sermon for 7 July

 

Blessings

With all these wonderful pets here today I can’t help but think of ‘unconditional love’. Jesus loves each one of us here today unconditionally, regardless of our backgrounds, our burdens or our joys.

This year I went to one of the craziest parties I can remember. The invite was not to me, but to my dog, because it was my friend’s dog’s 1stbirthday! I learnt there is a whole industry for canine celebrations, from doggie party hats, doggie pizza to doggie birthday cake - complete with bone shaped biscuits around the side. From the way the dogs woofed this down after a game of musical chairs - it was all good. It made me feel a little bad though when my cocker spaniel, Chui, turned 11 a few weeks later and we didn’t even have a present. It made me think how often do we take our pets, our family our blessings for granted?

This reminded me of the wonderful story in Luke’s gospel that we just heard. Jesus is making his way from Galilee to Jerusalem. He’s outside a village in the middle of nowhere, when he is met by 10 lepers. The lepers recognise him immediately (like we may recognise a celebrity I suppose).

They are outside the village because people are scared of their illness and they’ve been banished from town. Just imagine that. Having to live outside the community, away from family and friends.

They stand at a distance and shout ‘Jesus, Master, take pity on us!’ They were asking for practical help but interestingly not for healing – maybe they didn’t dare. But what does Jesus do? Without laying hands on them he says ‘Go and let the priests examine you.’ When you are allowed out of quarantine for an illness nowadays a doctor gives you the go ahead but in those days, according to Jewish law, it was the priests. Quite incredibly, after being told to simply go to the priests, they don’t ask questions – they just turn around and walk in faith to the priests. As they walk they must have looked at each other and realised that their sores were disappearing whilst they were doing as Jesus said.

Isn’t that amazing? How they just trust Jesus. You can almost picture this happening in slow motion, imagining the elation on the 10 lepers faces as they realised what had happened. They must have been so excited, so keen to see and show their families. But only one of the 10 comes back and throws himself at Jesus’ feet saying thank you to God. This guy was the only Samaritan, the only non-Jew in the group, the foreigner, but he came back. Even Jesus turned round and said ‘Were 10 not cleansed’….

It doesn’t mean that the nine others weren’t grateful:

Perhaps one was so excited he rushed off to see his family – like we sometimes do when a prayer is answered and we are so caught up in the moment that we forget to say thank you.

Maybe one just didn’t know how to say thank you. After all, this was Jesus, everyone knew about him. Maybe he was too nervous to see him again.

Possibly, one didn’t think that he would notice, Jesus after all was a busy man; he wouldn’t want to disturb him.

It could be possible that another thought, ‘well that is Jesus’ job – that is what he is supposed to do.

Did another think ‘oh, someone else will do it’.

Could it be that one thought it was his right to get healed? It was owed to him; he didn’t need to say thank you.

Maybe one of them didn’t want to go back to a place where they had known such suffering – they just wanted to get away.

How often do we take things for granted? Often for very good reasons.

At the moment, like many of us, I am particularly concerned by the state of the planet.

Are we taking our planet for granted?

As I sat down to write this an article flashes up on MSN about an orang-utan in Indonesia who was shot 72 times. As the land was being cleared for a palm oil plantation, she did not want to leave with her baby. Some may say, that’s far away, that is not my problem, I do my best, I recycle. I was shocked when I did some research into what palm oil is used for, realising that it is found in much of the food and household products in my home.

Do we just expect someone else to take care of our planet like the 9 lepers who did not care to show gratitude? Do we just appreciate our moment in time when there are still rhinos, elephants and orang utangs to show our children and not realise our blessings.

Do we get so caught up with all the rushing around that we forget to be grateful? Not because we are ungrateful, but because life is busy?

Sometimes, we just need to stop. Let’s stop for a moment and watch this short clip, a taster of Sir David Attenborough’s next documentary about our beautiful planet with its beautiful creatures:

https://youtu.be/IlFRPkT-hVc

If there were two imaginary baskets, one with our ‘thank you’ prayers and one with our ‘please can we have’ prayers which one would be overflowing? What blessings do we need to say thank you for? Amen.

Because it is so easy to focus on the ‘please can I’ rather than the ‘thank you’ we are going to use the paper in our pews to write down 10 things we are grateful for. With about 100 of us here today that would be 1000 things? Can we do that? When you are done, scrounge it up and we’ll throw them into our ‘thankful’ basket.

 

 

Going Deeper
  1. What are you grateful for today?
  2. What do we learn about Jesus through this story?
  3. How we learn from the lepers?
  4. Thinking deeper, what can we apply from this story to our own lives and community.
  5. How do we put our faith into action?

 

 

 

Posted: 07/07/2019 at 19:39
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