Say "Thank you"

October 13, 2019, Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Martin Rinkert was a minister in the town of Eilenburg Germany some 350 years ago. He was the son of a poor coppersmith, but managed to work his way through an education. Finally in 1617 he was offered the post of Archdeacon in his hometown parish. A year later the 33-year-war broke out, and his town was caught right in the middle. In 1637 the massive plague that swept across Europe broke out in his town, and people died at the rate of 50 a day. Martin had to bury most of them. In all, more than 8,000 people died, including Martin’s wife. His labors finally came to an end about 11 years later, just one year after the conclusion of the war. His ministry spanned 32 years, and all but the first and last were extremely difficult. It was tough, to say the least, for Martin Rinkert to be thankful, and yet in “Breaking Bread”, hymn # 212, we read what he wrote:

 

Now thank we all our God

With heart and hands and voices.

Who wondrous things hath done

In whom this world rejoices.

 

How could he be so thankful? Maybe the secret lies in the daily prayer that he had memorized and repeated every day of his life:

 

“Thank you Lord that you chose to open my eyes this morning and give me the gift of life for one more day. May I remember this day, that every breath I breathe had its origin in your grace. Thank you Lord for whatever this day holds,

my time is in your hands, to use me as you see fit. I have no plans of my own. May each moment be lived in praise and thanksgiving to your name. Now thank we all our God, with hearts and hands and voices.”

 

Today our scriptures are about gratitude. In the first reading The Syrian Naaman is cured of his leprosy. He returns to Elisha with his whole army to give thanks. And of course the gospel is the famous account of the ten lepers. One gives thanks, nine do not. So we have 10% giving thanks.

 

It would seem that we humans are not good at saying “Thanks”.

 

Samuel Leibowitz, a brilliant criminal lawyer, saved 78 people from the electric Chair during his career, not one thanked him. That is 0%. Art King had a radio program, entitled: “Job center on the Air”. He found jobs for over 2,500 people. Only ten ever thanked him. That is .004%. The post office in charge of the Dead Letter Box in Washington DC reported that

they had received thousands of letters addressed to “Santa Claus” asking him to bring many things; but after Christmas only one letter came to the box thanking Santa.

 

It would seem that we humans are not good at saying “Thanks”. Did you thank God this morning for waking up? Did you thank God this morning for your eyes? Probably not unless you are just recovering from eye surgery or an illness that threatened you with blindness. Did you thank God this morning for your back being strong enough to get you out of bed? Probably not, until you are in a car accident and are told that you will never walk again.

 

Even though we all probably clutch our blankets and growl when the alarm goes off each morning, we should say “Thank you Lord”, at least we are alive and can hear the alarm.

 

In conclusion, even though the first hour of the day is hectic, when socks are lost and toast is burned and tempers are short, say “Thank you Lord for my family”. There are many who are lonely. Even though our breakfast table never looks

like the pictures in the magazines, say “Thank you Lord for the food we have.” There are many who are hungry. Even though the routine of the job is monotonous, say “Thank you Lord for the opportunity to work.” There are many who have no job. Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day and wish my circumstances were different, say

“Thank you Lord for the gift of life”.  Amen.

Sunday Readings

 

2 Kings 5:14–17  [Naaman’s] flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

 

2 Timothy 2:8–13  If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.

 

Luke 17:11–19  [Jesus said,] “Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?

...Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”