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Thanksgiving & Warden Hill Junior School
Last week, I enjoyed a trip to Warden Hill Junior School to help at their morning Harvest Assembly. We spoke together about Mary’s Meals and about how precious water is to life on earth and we received their harvest gifts that were later distributed in the parish by their year 6. The Deputy Head then asked the whole assembly of 380 children “How many of you have said thank you to someone this morning?”
Bearing in mind that it was only 9:30, the show of hands was substantial. Certainly more than one in ten. One little girl had thanked someone taller than herself for helping to retrieve a book from a high shelf, another because a door had been opened for them and there were one or two other examples. Later, it was explained to me that this term’s theme was about ‘giving thanks’ and developing good manners. In our consumer driven world, where our rights are more important than our obligations and where excellence in service is expected without deviation, it has become unfashionable to thank people for doing things, especially if these are seen as those they should be doing in any case or for which they are being paid. So well done Warden Hill for giving lessons in good behaviour.
Jesus is giving such a lesson in behaviour to his disciples and followers in our reading today, in fact there are two lessons. The first concerns the way in which the lepers are healed: rather than stretching out his hands and curing them by immediate touch Jesus says to them “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” Now, in biblical times, it was the priest who could pronounce you clean, should you be rid of a disease and who could permit you to return to a normal life back in the community. The lepers might very well and reasonably have refused to go, since they were still leprous and could expect nothing from the priests in that case. Yet they had faith and set off as Jesus had commanded. So, the first lesson is to obey God and of course, the second is to give thanks and praise to God for what we have received. The lesson is again targeted to the Jews, the fortunate ones who have been given knowledge of the saving goodness of God, who have further been given the prophecy of the coming of the Messiah and yet in the story it is the Samaritan, the religious alien and foreigner who turns back to prostrate himself in thanks.
I wonder the nine, through their faith obedience and knowledge, were expecting to be healed - after all that is what Jesus was doing all around them, wasn’t it?
As we were reminded during our harvest celebrations, we are the fortunate ones, fortunate in the abundance of things around us, in our freedom to be openly avowed Christians. We hope, pray and believe that God will do good things and because of that we must strive to be not one of the nine but the one of the ten, who was moved to come back to Jesus and give thanks. To paraphrase the teacher then at Warden Hill, and please do not put up your hands, but which of us has said thank you to God this morning?