The house is a mess. Of course it is. There are three little people here and two big ones and no neat freaks at all. A blessing for a family or a curse? I don’t know. Before I married the Spouse, I thought of him as a neat and tidy person. He thought I was the messy one, which was fine because it’s true. I’ve always been the one who leaves apple cores on the desk. And on the bookcase. But in his family, he was known for his slovenly ways. Now we happily share a space and you can’t find the sofa for the newspapers, books and cardigans. On to the next generation. Our son leaves his socks, elastic bands and lego everywhere and our daughter leaves her felt fairies and drawings and pencils. And they both leave books out. Did I mention we have a baby? So there are blankets and a nursing pillow on the couch, clothes, clothes, clothes everywhere, more books and mugs and I’d better stop there. You understand.
I look around the room and I see all the things I have to do. A hundred chores procrastinated.
Then Plum. He’s been nursing fiercely, all cuddled close and focussed intently. Then suddenly, he throws his head back and opens his eyes up as wide as possible. He turns his head this way and that, surveying everything. And he grins. Open mouth, all joy. Allelujah! I’m here! These are the golden days!
And I look around again. This time, I see that it is beautiful. Of course it is. This is our home.
“Oh! My dear comrades, let us crazy ones have delight in our eyesight in spite of everything – yes, lets!” Vincent Van Gogh, The Complete Letters, B15, III, 511
Next Sunday, we’ll be sharing the story of Jesus and the ten lepers from Luke 17: 11-19. A nice set-up for Harvest Thanksgiving, this story takes us to the very core of our activity as people of faith. Because, as Don Postema wrote, God is the Giver and we are the thanks-givers.
The story of the ten lepers powerfully demonstrated the inclination of a faithful heart. When Christ healed the lepers, he reminded them to go to the priests that their healing may be confirmed. This confirmation was determined by the law – as religious people, they had to go. It was the priests’ duty to make official any healing and to allow those who had been unclean and outcast to enter society again. All healed lepers followed that piece of law, but only one of them took the step from you-must into you-might. You must play your part in society. You might run back to God.
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.
You might seek to be close to the one who gives you new life. You might run down to road to meet him again. You might yell out loud, ignoring any who look at you squint. You might say thank you.
The protestant reformer Martin Luther described faithful worship as this tenth leper moment. Worship isn’t obligation; it is the return of a thankful heart to the source of its healing. It is awaking to new possibilities of a healed life lived close to Christ. It is delighting in what we have seen, the healing that, in spite of everything, has given us back our lives. Worship can be our moment to delight with our dear comrades, with the crazy ones, with the communion of saints and with our small children in the messiness of our lives, these beautiful golden days. Worship can be that thanksgiving overflowing.
Since Jesus was delivered to you as Christ and Lord, live your lives in union with him. Be rooted in him; be built in him; be consolidated in the faith you were taught; let your hearts overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7