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

The Majority

November 25:

Call:       Deuteronomy 8: 6-18
Read:   W&S #175
Text:       Luke 17: 11-19
Closing:    Hosea 13: 4-6

                The Majority

I am baffled.
I am perplexed.
I am without any clue.

For I do not understand
how Thanksgiving has become so under appreciated.

And I especially do not understand
    Why people in churches of every faith
    Of every denomination, and in every geographical location
Seem unable to recognize that this is a religious holiday.

Is it because "Thanksgiving" has become a name rather than an act?
    If so, I would be more than glad to support a move to rename the holiday to     "Giving Thanks Day."

That change in what we call the holiday
    Would make it clear that the title incorporates a verb
More specifically,  what we called while I was in elementary school: an "action verb."

This might help some
to recognize that this is - or rather should be -
an action holiday.
The action is one of giving thanks.

But giving thanks to whom? (and this is where religion comes in)
    To God! To our creator, king, shepherd and Lord

But what do most people think of when they hear the word "Thanksgiving?"

I can tell you that     it's usually not God.

Instead it is
    Turkeys, cranberries, and pies
    Recreational activities like football and hunting,
    Parades and floats
and     days off from school or work.

Too we think of gathering with family or friends.

Now, there is nothing wrong with
    Turkeys, cranberries, and pies
       I enjoy all of them - perhaps too much for my own good

There is nothing wrong with
    Recreational activities like football and hunting
        Although not a hunter, I truly enjoy football

There is nothing wrong with parades and floats
    I enjoy them    I've marched in many
In addition,
I've ridden a float in one and been a judge at still another

I do fear, however, that Thanksgiving parades
    Have lost the idea of giving thanks
And instead
    Are used to announce the commercial Christmas season
As for a few days off from school or work,
Who other than Ebenezer Scrooge - and the owners of an increasing number of present day retail establishments -
Doesn't find value in that.

And the best way to understand how important gathering with family or friends
    Is to think of what Thanksgiving would be like w/o them

I have heard the argument that
    We should give thanks every day, not just one day a year.

Why of course, we should.   Duh!

But despite the accuracy of that statement
    I find no merit in it as a reason - or excuse - for
ignoring the importance of Thanksgiving

The two are not mutually exclusive!
    This is not an "either-or" situation.

In fact the purpose of Thanksgiving is two fold
    The giving of thanks on the holiday, of course
But also
    To remind us of the importance of giving thanks the rest of the year.

And if it were an either-or proposition,
    We would have a tremendous giving of thanks on the holiday
For there is no way that most of the people in this world
    Or for that matter:
this nation, this state, this county, this village
Give God thanks on a daily basis.

But every time I feel like
getting on my soap box  or  getting behind this pulpit
        to chastise the modern world

I find myself having to admit
that, as much as the modern world deserves chastisement
    The problem has existed for centuries - even millennia

We find it throughout the OT
    People forgetting to give thanks to God
        Choosing instead to indulge themselves
    And being convinced that they have earned all their blessings

That is why God sent the prophets
    To get the people to put the focus  where it belonged

[Hold Bible]    This particular version
    has 261 pages of prophet after prophet
    trying to refocus the hearts and minds of the people
        and, in particular, the leaders as they made decisions.

And they follow page after page of histories which tell
    Of the disobedience of the people
And of their ignoring God as if God were irrelevant.

That type of thinking and behavior is why God sent God's son
    And we know how many people treated him
    If anyone who doesn't remember,
there is a cross behind me.

But not all of the ignoring and indulging took place in the OT

One of the saddest stories in scripture is in Luke's gospel
Where he tells of Jesus being called to help by ten lepers.

That story is our text tonight
    [Luke 17: 11-19]

Lepers were not allowed to come into contact with other people
    And people understood leprosy to be a punishment from God

So when these ten saw the much talked about rabbi walking by
    They called out for relief of their punishment
        So they could be healthy again
    And So they could be reintegrated into society

The lepers spotted Jesus and hailed him as he walked on his way to Jerusalem
    "Jesus,     Master,     show us mercy!"

They acted like they thought he was someone special
    Just like we did on Sunday when we called him our king.

And he responded
    Telling them to go show themselves to the priest
        The one who could certify that they were clean
        The one who could allow them to resume normal lives

And as they left to do what he said,    they were cleansed.

One of them, upon realizing he had been healed
    Hurried back to Jesus
    Threw himself at Christ's feet
    And thanked him.

The leper who returned was, amazingly enough,
    A Samaritan
    Amazing because Jews and Samaritans did not hit it off.

The joy we have when we think of
this Samaritan leper returning to Jesus
    to express his deep gratitude
dissipates quickly when we hear Jesus inquire:

    "Weren't ten cleansed?"
    "Where are the other nine?"

The vast majority   (90% !)     chose to not turn back
    to thank the one who healed them.

And the question for us during a week in which
We are reminded to give thanks to God       is;

How often do we find ourselves  in the majority
Which didn't think giving thanks
was important enough to bother?

How often when Jesus asks,  "Where are the other nine""
    Do we have to answer with so many others,
"We are over here."

Or is there a chance that we are we in the minority
    The tenth leper who knew that it was that important?

Our taking time to be here tonight is some evidence that
  there is a good chance that we are more like that Samaritan leper;

But even, if we are, I remain grateful for "Giving Thanks Day."
    For I do not want to ever forget
    why this holiday is observed and celebrated in the church
and     I don't want anyone in the churches I serve to forget either.

For I don't want the words God spoke through Hosea
    To ever be spoken about me - or about you.  [Hosea 13:6]