- The Washington Times - Monday, November 25, 2002

Excerpts from a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. Ode H. Hines at Greater Good Samaritan Baptist Church in the District.
Let's think today about one thankful soul. We read in Luke [17:11-19] about the man who, "when he saw he was cured, turned around and praised God at the top of his voice."
As we approach Thanksgiving, many of us will be sitting around our tables and feasting. Hopefully, we will also be giving thanks to God for our lives. We should always be thankful for what He has done. In this man who was healed, we see the gratitude of one person standing out against the background of ingratitude among the others.
For most of us, the reason we are unhappy is because we are unthankful. When we are thankful, it puts us in a different atmosphere. The Bible says we should always give thanks to Almighty God, in spite of our circumstances.
In the days of Christ, the relationship between Jews and Samaritans was so strained that Jews bypassed Samaria on travels between Galilee and Judea. They did not want to have any dealings with the Samaritans. Now, we know that Jesus often taught in parables. And by his travels to Samaria, He is trying to teach a moral and religious principle, and even reveal the mind of God.
Jesus has chosen a route that allows Him to encounter a Samaritan. He chose this route, and then took His disciples along. Some of us like to avoid people and places we don't like. But Jesus deliberately took the disciples into a place where they did not want to go, to see people they did not want to see.
What they saw were the lepers. They had been driven out of society. It was a place neglected by the government and forsaken by family and friends. But Jesus was looking for someone to help. This is just like Jesus. He goes where people do not want to go, places like Liberia and Chad and Somalia and Mozambique and Uganda and Kenya.
Jesus shows up there, and He shows up in operating rooms where mangled bodies need to be repaired. Jesus shows up in nursing homes, where the elderly sit and wait for the angel to visit them. He shows up in places like funeral parlors, single-parent homes, where God is sometimes the only hope for these children. And so it was that Jesus showed up in Samaria to meet 10 hopeless and hated lepers.
Jesus did not look for the route of least resistance. Many of us prefer those routes, don't we? We like the easy going. We take the routes that are pleasing and painless. Jesus took paths that were difficult and demanding. Rough roads under construction. You see, most of us would rather be on the superhighway, cruising on 495. We don't want to travel the back roads of life. We like the expressway.
Jesus was in the business of taking those hard and rugged roads. Think today of the AIDS virus. In many places it is just like leprosy, but like Jesus we have to go there and help. I'm ready for that rough road. The lepers called out, "Lord God have mercy on me." Basically, the story here is about our fear of leprosy, such a dreadful disease, and the same is true of AIDS. Jesus walked this road, and He was he not judgmental in how He healed these lepers.
But the story is also that only one of them said, "Thank you." Just one cried back and said, "Thank you." They had been waiting for their deliverance. But once it came, among them it was clear that there was only one thankful person. We wait on our deliverance. When God gives us that breakthrough, we forget about the Lord. Do we say, "Thank you?"
The lepers were not praying for healing, they were just praying for mercy. The suffering of the years had taught them how to be grateful for the smallest things. We have to go through some things to be grateful. We must always be thankful.
Next week: a sermon by the Rev. J. William Hines at St. Mary Catholic Church in Landover Hills.

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