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The Rev. William Klock: Sermon for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity (Galatians 5:16-24; Luke 17:11-19)

September 26, 2011

From Fr. Bill Klock of Living Word REC in British Columbia, here is a Sermon for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity,  which is based on Galatians 5:16-24 and Luke 17:11-19.  Fr. Bill starts out here by referring to the account of the ten lepers in the passage from Luke’s Gospel, and makes a very good point about how we show true gratitude to Him who died and rose again for us:

And that leper who came back to thank Jesus is a picture of what it means to be a true follower of Jesus—a true Christian believer.  The nine got what they wanted from Jesus and went off to do their own thing.  They showed a profound lack of gratitude.  But if you look at the story you can understand why.  I don’t want to underplay the horribleness of their disease, but what they wanted from Jesus was simply physical relief, and as terrible as leprosy was, that was a shallow request to make of the One who offered them eternal salvation from sin and from sin’s consequences.  They were happy not to have leprosy anymore, but they were still slaves to sin and they still stood condemned to everlasting damnation when they died.  They had a shallow understanding of the Saviour.  But the tenth man truly understood what redemption means—and that’s why he came back.  He knew on some level that he was sinner; he knew he stood condemned; and he knew that Jesus could forgive.  In his case the healing from leprosy was like a sacramental seal of his redemption—an outward sign and seal of the inward grace that Jesus applied to him in cleansing him of his sins.  Jesus told him to go show himself to the priest, and as he headed off and was healed of his disease he realized that there was more—that he was truly well, through and through, in body and spirit—and so he turned back to express his gratitude.

As Christians, then, who represents us best?  Obviously, it should be the man who came back and thanked Jesus, but if we really look at our lives and how we approach Jesus, I think it’s safe to say that a lot of the time we’re more like the other nine.  I know that’s certainly true for me.  We see ourselves in those nine men when our prayers are little more than lists of “Gimme, gimme gimme”; when he come to sing songs of thanks and praise on Sunday, but give little thought to Jesus during the week; and when we live our lives for ourselves, continuing on in our sins.  I think that last point is where we truly show our lack of gratitude and our shallow understanding of faith and of our Saviour.  Jesus tells us that if we love him we will obey his commandments.  St. James reminds us that true and saving faith manifests itself in love and good works—in obedience to Jesus.  But if we look at our own lives—at our own obedience to Jesus and at the fruit we bear—we often aren’t very good at showing Jesus the gratitude that he truly deserves.

If you’ll read the rest of this sermon, Fr. Bill does a stellar job of pointing out the relationship between true gratitude to God and true worship.

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