Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:15-16 (NRSV)
The Chicken Soup for the Soul story for today was entitled “The Thanksgiving Christmas”. It was a story about how the best Christmas the family ever had happened at Thanksgiving. My thought after reading this delightful story was, why is this story posted in October when it is not even close to either Thanksgiving or Christmas? The same question could be asked about our gospel text of Jesus healing the ten lepers being assigned in the middle of October. It is a lesson usually read at Thanksgiving. But maybe a better question to ask is why do we think that the only time that we need to hear about praising and thanking God is once a year at Thanksgiving? One of the themes of Luke’s gospel is that of giving praise to God. The story of Jesus’ birth begins with the Shepherds praising God (2:20) and ends at Jesus’ death with the centurion praising God (23:47). During Jesus’ life many people who encounter Jesus ended up praising God. That is what happened to the Samaritan leper. When he encountered God’s healing powers he returned to Jesus praising God. I sometimes wonder how much of our life is spent praising God. It seems to me that for many Americans it is much easier to complain. Maybe the problem is that as Americans our worship attendance has been decreasing. In Luke’s gospel it was an encounter with God that led to praising. One of the best places for us to encounter God is during the worship service. It is during worship that we hear about God’s love that comes to us in Jesus Christ. It is during worship that Jesus comes to us in the form of bread and wine. It is during worship that we have the opportunity to sing hymns of praise. Maybe if our worship attendance would increase our life would be filled with more praise to God.