What a week it's been - 2 funerals, an art exhibition at one of the churches this weekend, and someone very ill ( but thankfully getting better) in hospital, on top of all the 'usual' stuff. Very little time to think about a sermon - so here's the notes for the 8am 'Reflection', then I must go back to the short sermon for the thanksgiving service (in which I've decided to use the Luke reading but also Mark 10: 13-16 - Jesus blessing the children).
The gospel reading from Luke tells us of the 10 healed lepers – only one of whom came back to thank Jesus – and he was the foreigner, the Samaritan.
I think I remember being taught in Sunday school that this shows we should always remember to say thank you.
As I’ve got older I’ve taken this story as a great comfort when I’ve felt taken for granted. Even Jesus, who could heal people of leprosy, only got a 10% ‘thank you’ rate.
But this time round, I was very struck by hearing this together with the Jeremiah reading.
Jesus heals and receives thank from a Samaritan – it is great to see God’s inclusive love in action. But Jeremiah challenges us to be even more radical and inclusive in our love. The people of Israel, who have been carried off into exile in Babylon, are told to build houses, marry wives, grow food, and generally to settle in the hated land of exile. They are then told to seek the welfare of the city of exile. The people are not exactly told to say ‘thank you’ to the foreigners who have done them such harm, but they are certainly told to bear no grudge. Did you notice the little mention by the Lord God of ‘the city where I have sent you into exile’. Whatever their feelings about what has happened to them and whatever the state they now find themselves in, the people of God are to remember that God is in control of their destiny, that nowhere is beyond his love and concern, and that reflecting God’s radical and universal love, they should not hate or despise anyone.
This is the astonishing gospel of Jesus Christ – no-one is beyond God’s love: not the foreigner, not the down-trodden, not even the ungrateful. All can receive God’s love shown in this bread & wine. Amen.