The Leper Who Returned—The One Who Gave Thanks

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There are many words we no longer hear. Here are a few I’m sure some of us heard when we were kids.

  1. Gallivant – my parents would tell me not to go gallivanting around all over the place.
  2. Britches – you could hear dads telling their sons to pull up their britches.
  3. Hootenanny – when folksingers would entertain people and the people would join in singing.
  4. Dungarees – I’m pretty sure guys don’t wear dungarees anymore.
  5. Icebox – we simply call it a fridge now.
  6. Yuppie – remember that word from the 1980s? They even used it in the movie Pretty in Pink.
  7. Rolodex – remember those?
  8. Card – nope not the ones you play with. This word describes a person with a hilarious personality.
  9. Pictures – still a word we use but in the 1950s you said pictures instead of the movies. We’re going to the picture show or simply to the pictures.
  10. Groovy – HAH!! A great 1970s word used to describe something excellent or amazing.

Pretty “groovy” list wouldn’t you say? 😊 There is one word, however, you especially don’t hear and that word is INGRATE! You gotta put it in all caps and add an exclamation point to capture its full effect. It means one who can’t express gratitude. Some people can say the word and make you feel lower than dirt.

My mother lived during the Great Depression. A time when people were out of work and out of money. They struggled to put food on the table. The cities were especially depressed. Food lines and welfare or public assistance lines were the norm.

Photo by Sonder Quest on Unsplash

I remember talking with my mother about the Great Depression and how it affected her and her family. Surprisingly she answered that it didn’t. Why? My mother lived on a farm. Her daddy, my grandfather or Papa as I called him, owned a farm. He also did carpentry and masonry. My mother said she never even knew about the Depression because she and her siblings never went hungry. My papa’s farm provided every kind of food they needed. Pigs, cows, chickens, eggs, vegetables. My grandma sewed and cooked like nobody’s business. There were twelve kids in my mother’s family. They never went to bed hungry. The city kids weren’t so lucky. Regardless of city folk or country folk, the gratitude these people showed for what little they had amazes me to this day.

If the Great Depression did anything it allowed for people to become inventive with their food. They had no choice. When I think of the Great Depression I immediately think of Clara Cannucciari. A precious lady I found on YouTube who showed her audience how people cooked during the Great Depression. Her show…Great Depression Cooking. If you decide to look her up, beware. You’ll be sitting at your computer for hours watching one video after another.

Clara passed away on November 29, 2013 at the age of 98. Her grandson taped all her cooking videos and did a memoriam video where he paid tribute to her. I learned so much from her. And it wasn’t just about cooking. I learned how Clara and her family survived the Great Depression. How her mother taught her kids how to cook quite inexpensively and how to garden. She taught Clara that you can feed a family on very little and they will still be satisfied. Plus, the food was really good! But the main thing Clara teaches those who watch her videos is that as bad as the Great Depression ravished the country, they still found things to be grateful for and never forgot to say thank you. They certainly weren’t INGRATES!

Thanksgiving to me means just that—giving thanks for what we have and not for what we might think we want or deserve. My three girls learned at an early age the meaning of thanksgiving and gratitude for what they had. We were not rich by any monetary means. My husband and I both worked. We were frugal.

After Thanksgiving and the days leading up to Christmas, I would always volunteer my girls to help with the various Christmas charities in our area. In the beginning, they hated it. Soon they came to realize that there were many people who had very little. I’d heard them complain that they didn’t have some of the things their friends had. They certainly had much more than the families they were helping. Gratitude for what they had began to sink in. I wanted them to understand that we all must have an attitude of gratitude.

With all we’re given in this life we should be grateful for it and not feel entitled. When you think of gratitude you can’t help but think of this story in our scripture of the one leper. During the time of this story, lepers were ostracized. If you had leprosy people thought you were being punished for something bad you’d done. Lepers were unclean and being clean back in those days was a huge deal.

These ten guys didn’t do anything to deserve this disease. They just contracted it. Leprosy is a cruel disease. It’s also known as Hanson’s disease. However, it isn’t that contagious. The way you catch it is only if you come into close and repeated contact with the nose and mouth droplets of someone who has leprosy and has gone untreated. Here’s the kicker—children are more likely to get leprosy than adults.

The awfulness of this disease is how it affects the person. It goes after your skin and the nerves outside your brain and spinal cord. It can infect your eyes and the thin tissue lining inside your nose. The good news is that leprosy is now curable. The first effective treatment (promin) became available in the 1940s.

In Jesus’ day, lepers couldn’t come within fifty yards of another human being. They had to leave their homes. Can you imagine how it must have felt to be in that type of situation? This story is still a story of hope. That’s what God does. God offers us a future with hope. If we hold on to God, He’ll lead us through any dark time we might find ourselves.

So these guys reached out to Jesus. Even though they were Samaritans. At least one was. Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priest so the priest would know they were clean. As they walked, they realized they were healed and clean. Naturally, all ten went back to thank Jesus, right? Umm…no. Just one.

Jesus asked the one who came back where were the other nine INGRATES! Not really but he did want to know where they were. The one that did go back fell at the feet of Jesus showing gratitude giving thanks to Jesus for his healing.

It’s one thing to be healed. It’s quite another thing to be made whole. It’s also possible to be healed but not made whole. What brings us to wholeness? Could it possibly be gratitude or maybe thankfulness?

What would you do if you were in the same place as the lepers? Would you rush home or would you be the one? Even if you’re in a good place might you need to step back and be grateful? This story tells us something about Christianity. Some think it’s about rules but it’s really about a way of life. The ten were grateful but nine didn’t return to the source of the healing. They didn’t offer their thanks and gratitude to Jesus.

What’s the definition of Christianity? Look it up. I’ll wait. Did you find its meaning as something like: infinite humility and grace? Or infinite grace? Followed by striving grounded in gratitude. Nope—I know you didn’t find that definition. You found something like: the religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, or its beliefs and practices. Wow! Not very good PR for Christianity.

Does your life look more like the nine or less like the one? Do you strive for it to be the opposite? Sometimes we need to go back and just say thanks.

Rudyard Kipling charged ten shillings per word. Some Oxford kids sent him ten shillings and told him to give them one of his best. He wrote back, “Thanks.”

Sit a moment and search your mind. Who has made a difference in your life? Who has blessed you most? Someone gone and/or someone here? What would you like to say to that person?

It would be nice if you said, “Thank you.” Because you certainly wouldn’t want to be an INGRATE! 😊

This Thanksgiving make it a point to be thankful. Make it a point to be grateful. Make it a point to say, “Thanks!”

My family is offering up a huge thank you to God as we celebrate our Noah’s first Thanksgiving Day. And Noah is very excited about it!

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!