Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Sermon work - cultivating an attitude of gratitude

Working on Sunday's sermon

When reading this Sunday's gospel reading from Luke, we learn of the 10 men who had leprosy who were healed by Jesus.  He tells them to to to the priest so they can be certified as actually clean and healed and able to re-enter society.  As they go, one turns back.  One of the nine men turns around, reverses direction and returns to praise God and thank Jesus.  This one had an "attitude of gratitude."  For this attitude, and the accompanying 180 degree shift in his direction, this one was recognized by Jesus (and by the gospel writer Luke) as "made well" or "healed," or even "saved" because of his faith.

I've been wondering about this one man out of nine and then wondering about the other nine.  Why did he have more of an attitude of gratitude than the other 9?  Why did he return when the others didn't?  Why didn't they return, or at least a few of them, when he returned?  What about his background, upbringing, his own personal constitution, lead him to do such an audacious (but also quite logical...and common-sensical) thing to do?  Even Jesus wonders aloud about the other nine, does he wonder with judgment, does he wonder with alarm, with anger, with sadness, with puzzlement?  We don't know.  But, we do know that Jesus wonders about those other nine.

Something about this one man who had had leprosy led him to have an attitude of gratitude.  I really wonder about him.  However, a key, to me, seems to be that we should not wonder too long about whether this man was just brought up to be more polite, or whether he had a parent who drilled into him the importance of thank you notes and kindness.  A key, to me, seems to be that he DID have an attitude of gratitude, and this attitude, and his grateful behavior, led to not only healing, but wholeness, to wellness and to salvation.

So, what about us?  I, for one, probably spend 90% of my time just going along doing my errands, my tasks, my busy-ness, without really considering the gratitude that should really infuse my life.  What if this were turned on its head?  What if we spent the majority of our life cultivating an attitude of gratitude?  What kind of life would this be?  Would it cost us anything?  No.  Would it help us to have a softer heart and greater kindness and openness?  Perhaps.  Would it bring us healing, wholeness, and salvation?  Perhaps.

I wonder what we might do to cultivate an attitude of gratitude ...

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

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