Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org


October 13:

Call:    Psalm 66: 1-12 (790)
Text:    Luke 17: 11-19
Prophet: Hosea 13: 2-6


All of us have things that annoy us or upset us.

Some of them are relatively minor
- to be honest, a good many are relatively minor.

For example,
I get annoyed when I put my socks on the wrong feet.

And, of course, this is where you observe
that with socks, you never knew that
      there were "right" or "wrong" feet

After all, unlike shoes, socks fit either foot just as well.

But socks - men's socks, at least - often have the brand name printed on the side of one sock.
   And because I believe that the name should be on the inside of the foot
   That sock goes on the right foot - not the left.

Every once in a while - perhaps once a year -
There is a morning when, that - for whatever reason -
I don't pay attention.

   And that evening when I take them off, I discover
      That I put the brand name sock on my left foot
And just about as often,
   since I have three identical pairs of blue socks
And   an equal number of pairs of matching black socks,
   I have an evening when I discover that I am wearing
      Two branded or two unbranded socks
      That is:    two right socks or two left socks.

And on both of those occasions I get annoyed at myself.

I get annoyed at my error
   Even though I wore them from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM
   Even though during that time, I had no idea that I had "erred"
   Even though I functioned just fine despite that "error."

I walked just fine.  I stood just fine.      I worked just fine.
   But I am annoyed because I wore my socks on the wrong feet

On the Jim Barnes II annoyance scale of 1 - 100
   With "1" being the least annoying and "100" being significant anger
   I can't even justify my wrong footed sock error as a "2."

Somewhat higher on that scale
is my annoyance at Thruway toll both operators
   Who spend their time talking on the phone
   And making me feel like I am interrupting them
      When I pull up to the booth.

When we lived in Jordanville,
   There was a guy who worked the Herkimer toll both
   And he consistently was guilty of this sin.

As a result I deliberately tried at times to ask him questions
   I was not particularly successful

My only satisfaction was that
   While I would give him a rating of "20" on my annoyance scale
   He probably put me at "45."

But these are not earth shattering annoyances - even for me.

Now my annoyance scale index has four sections
   1-33:       Annoyance
   34 - 66:    Upsetting
   67 - 90:    Low to Moderate Anger
   90 and above:  Extremely High Anger

What I want to address this morning
is something that
"earns" a JEB II Annoyance Scale "Extremely High"  rating

That something       is ingratitude.

While it rates below violent actions
And just below a refusal to forgive
   It is up in the "90s" for me.

Most of my memories of my life are good ones
   God has been awfully good to me
   Despite my flaws, my mistakes, and my sins

But prime among the relatively few negative memories
   Are instances of ingratitude
      Some to me;
      Some to others.

So you can imagine my reaction to this morning's scripture.

It comes from Luke's gospel,  17: 11-19
There were ten men who had
Been ostracized
And had become outcasts because of their leprosy.

As Jesus entered their village
   The ten men cried out, saying,   "Jesus have mercy on us!"

They begged him for help.
He responded by telling them what to do
   "Go and show yourselves to the priests."
      (who were the ones who could certify them as cured)

They started off to do what Jesus had told them to do.

As they went,  they were made clean.

As one of them began to notice that he had been healed
   He rushed back to Jesus
   He praised God with a loud voice
   And threw himself on the ground at Jesus' feet.

As he lay there prostrate     He thanked Jesus.

Interestingly, the man was a Samaritan
   And because of that, he was one looked down on by the Jews

And I picture Jesus
   With sad eyes in,
and a grim expression on,
His shaking head
      "Were not ten made clean?
      But the other nine, where are they?
      Was none of them found to return and give praise
except this foreigner?"
This is where you and quickly react,
   "Those nine ungrateful men!
   What an embarrassment those ingrates are.

And we want to take them out behind the barn
   And give them a good whooping
   Or, drawing on Nathaniel Hawthorne
      We want to brand them with a red letter
         But this time an "I" not an "A.

These ten men were sick, embarrassed, and ostracized.
Jesus healed them
   And   nine of them couldn't be bothered to turn around
Nine of them couldn't be bothered to praise God
or    to even offer thanks to Jesus for what he had done.

Interestingly, we read this story differently
than we read many of Christ's parables and stories.

When we read about the prodigal son
   We often read it as the older brother
When we read about the laborers in the vineyard
   We almost always read it as those hired at 6:00 AM

And thus with those stories,
it does not take long to realize that Christ is talking to us
and telling us what we need to hear.

But when we read this story
   We have a much more comfortable reaction
For when we read it     we hear it in the third person
      We don't see ourselves as one of the nine
      We don't find ourselves being chastised by him
   In fact we join him in chastising the nine ingrates.

This story doesn't stick a dagger in our hearts or our self esteem
It doesn't get us upset at ourselves

We have no question that had we been there,
We would have been the healed Samaritan.
   The one who returned and gave thanks

BUT if we take time to try to figure out
how it is that nine healed lepers didn't return to offer thanks,
we will discover a greater kinship with them
than any of us would like.

That search for what made them respond that way
Does not lead us to
      "Their parents didn't teach them any better"
         Although their parents might well not have
It does not lead us to
   They had to get home in time to watch
         The game between Jerusalem and Bethlehem
   Or "Stoners," the new reality show
in which contestants stone each other until only one is left alive.

I believe that where our search will take us is
   To a very familiar place and a very common activity.

I believe that the search inside the minds and souls of the nine
   Will show us that they  felt sorry for themselves
      "It's not fair that I am sick."
      "I didn't deserve these sores all over my skin."

Not a person here hasn't experienced that feeling
Not a person here has not actively felt sorry for himself or herself
Not a person here can stand up and say, "I haven't done that."

And therefore, not a person here can say that he or she
   Can't relate to the response that derives from that feeling
   The response we observed   from the nine healed lepers
who kept walking
instead of turning back to say, "Thank you, Jesus."

Those nine healed lepers who did not to fall prostrate before Christ
Who were not overwhelmed with praise and thanksgiving,
But who walked away thinking
      "It's about time I was cured!"
      "I deserved this healing."
      "I can't understand what took so long."

That response is not an attitude of gratitude,
but rather a feeling of entitlement.

Years before Christ healed the lepers on his way to Jerusalem
The prophet Hosea made it clear that
this was the attitude of the Israelites in the wilderness

Hauntingly, God, speaking through that prophet said,
   "They were hungry    I fed them
   They were satisfied     And they forgot me.

Christ could say the same thing about the nine healed lepers
   They were sick       I healed them
   They were satisfied     And they forgot me.

Should you and I worry that there are times
When Christ could say the same about us?

I don't want to be an ingrate
That would be infinitely - and eternally - worse
      Than wearing my socks on the wrong feet.