Sometimes we long for God to do something dramatic. Like curing an illness or giving us an instant solution to a serious problem. We think that if God acted in such a dramatic way our faith would surely be strengthened and we would be able to live our lives with greater courage and confidence.
The Gospel story about Jesus’ cure of the ten lepers is a powerful reminder that dramatic actions do not always lead to greater trust in God (Luke 17:11-19). What could be more dramatic than being cured of the hideous disease of leprosy? Even so, only one of the ten who were cured returned to thank Jesus. Were the other nine simply ungrateful? No. They did not return to thank Jesus because they did not know what had really happened to them. They surely knew that the sores of leprosy had disappeared. What they did not know was that they had been touched by God. For them, Jesus’ action was literally only skin deep. They could not come back to thank Jesus because they did not recognize the gift of his presence in the first place. It was the one who recognized the gift of Jesus’ loving presence to him that returned to say thank you.
Our annual Stewardship Renewal reminds us that all that we have and all that we are is a gift from God. This is the foundation of the stewardship way of life. We do not want to be like the nine in the Gospel, who, even though they had been cured of a terrible disease, did not recognize it was Jesus reaching out to them in love that was the real gift in their lives. Like the one who returned to say thank you, we are called to live our lives every day from a place of gratitude. Our daily thank you becomes the inspiration to, in turn, joyfully reach out to others in love.
Stewardship is about growing in a new way of life. In the coming weeks, we will see how this life calls us to joyfully reach out in service and to share the blessings of what we have with others. On the weekend of November 2-3, we will consider what portion of God’s blessings we will share to support the work of our parish. Sometimes we may be so busy looking for miracles that we are blind to seeing the real gifts God gives to us. May these weeks of stewardship renewal help us to see personally and as a parish the good gifts God is already providing.
Together in faith,
The Very Rev. Christopher Smith, rector