I can’t believe it’s already November. Halloween is over, and we will soon be making plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is a time to spend with family, to reflect on things in life that we are thankful for.
One of my favorite Bible stories this time of year is about 10 men who had Leprosy. It was this disgusting, incurable, contagious disease. If you had it, people wouldn’t want anything to do with you. If someone saw a leper, they would cross the street, pointing, shouting at them, unclean, unclean! Their own family and friends probably wouldn’t want to get close to them. Even others with Leprosy were scared to get too close to each other, they didn’t want it to get worse. No one would be around them. No one would give them the time of day. If you had Leprosy you were the outcast of the community.
Can you imagine how they felt? The weeks, months, years, or even lifetimes of loneliness that they had experienced? Finally, one day they see Jesus walking by. They don’t know him, but they heard the stories. They had to at least ask him to be healed. They were out of options, and willing to do anything. They know that they can’t get too close. They call out from a far-off distance for Jesus to have mercy on them. What does Jesus do? He tells them to go see the priest, the one who can pronounce them clean.
All 10 of them go. On their way to the priest, they look down at their skin, and they are healed. I am sure that some of these men went to the priest, to be pronounced clean. Some probably ignored this, and rushed home to see family and friends that they had not seen in years first. I’m guessing that some just went to do things they couldn’t do with leprosy. Noticing that he had been healed, one of the men ran back to Jesus, and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus was Jewish. The Jewish people and the Samaritans did not get along. Jewish people would add hours or even days to their journey to travel around Samaria instead of going through it. The Samaritans were the ones they wanted to forget even existed. We have these people in our communities today, don’t we? People who it’s easier to walk by and ignore, than to help. Not only is Jesus Jewish, he is also a leader in that community. If anyone knew to stay away from Samaria, it should have been Jesus. Yet he ignores this rule and goes where he is most needed.
This man wasn’t an outcast just for being a Samaritan. If he were, at least he could have friends in his own community. No, having Leprosy kept even his own community away from him. He was the OUTCAST in a community of outcasts. He had no one. Can you even imagine the pain he went through?
This Samaritan goes back to Jesus, and falls to his knees in gratitude, praising God that he was finally healed. Jesus asked him where the other 9 lepers had gone. Obviously, this Samaritan had no idea. We can imagine Jesus smiling, reaching down, lifting the man’s face, and helping him to his feet. Jesus sends him on his way, letting him know he was made well because of his faith. Can you imagine the first touch in probably years being by Jesus himself?
Out of 10 who were healed, only the one acknowledged as an outsider of the group went back to say thank you. We know how easy it is to do this, don’t we? To forget to say thank you. We are so used to receiving gifts that sometimes we just expect it. My prayer is that we can learn to be more like the one leper who went back, and less like the other nine. That each day we can be more and more thankful for what we receive.
One of the biggest blessings of my job is being the one who gets to see how thankful the folks of Bdecan and the Spirit Lake Reservation are for your gifts. It is such a joy to be the one who gets to thank you for all that you give to the ministry at Bdecan. We could not do what we do here without you.
During this time of Thanksgiving, the members at Bdecan, and those on the Bdecan Ministry Team want you to know how thankful we are for every single one of you! You may not always hear a personal thank you, for all that you give to our ministry, but know that what you do makes a huge difference in the lives of the members of Bdecan Presbyterian Church, and the Spirit Lake Reservation.
My name is Joe Obermeyer. I am the Youth and Outreach Coordinator at Bdecan Presbyterian Church.