I would like for you to do something.
Would you all point to yourself right now.
Now look around.
Notice what everyone here is doing.
We are all pointing to our hearts.
Every one of us is doing that.
Now why is that?
Why did we all point to our hearts?
It’s because the heart is the place where God comes and speaks to us.
The word heart is one of the most important words in the Bible.
In the Bible that word is used to describe the center of one’s emotions, feelings, moods, and passions.
From the heart one experiences joy, grief, pain, love, courage, and fear.
The heart functions as the source of thought and reflection.
The heart provides wisdom and understanding between good and evil.
From the heart one expresses gratitude and thanksgiving.
In the Bible the heart represents the total person.
From the heart one meets God.
Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to move and to heal some hearts.
Ten lepers approach him.
The ten lepers were outcasts, they were sick, and they needed help.
Their hearts were broken from their pain and suffering.
Jesus sees their great need.
He has mercy on them and he chooses to heal them.
Upon healing them one decides to return to Jesus.
This person returns to give thanks.
Jesus is pleased that he has returned to him to give him thanks.
But he is disappointed that only one person returned.
There were ten.
But only one returned to give thanks.
God is a healing and giving God.
Jesus through the power of God gave the gift of healing for ten people.
But again only one returned to give thanks.
The Samaritan’s heart was moved to turn around and to return to Jesus.
He is moved by God’s graceful, healing work through the hand of Jesus and he is filled with gratitude.
His grateful heart responds to Jesus with faith.
Jesus now says to the man.
Go on your way.
Your faith has made you well.
In today’s Gospel reading thankfulness and faith are linked together.
When our hearts are spilling out with thankfulness to God then our faith is being activated in powerful ways.
Gratitude changes us.
Gratitude changes our hearts.
With thanksgiving we find ourselves coming to worship not to get something but rather to receive something… to receive God’s mercy, forgiveness, and healing.
With thanksgiving we see our understanding of stewardship being changed from duty to joyful giving.
With thanksgiving we see the mission of the church being driven not in fear or with worry and anxiety but by trust, prayer, and faith.
In this Bible reading the man who returns to give thanks is a Samaritan.
He is not one of Jesus’ followers.
He is not a Levite or a Pharisee or for that matter not even a Lutheran.
Why is this significant?
Jesus is making the point here that all of us share that universal human quality of gratitude.
All of us need some kind of healing.
All of us can live lives of faith.
Despite the realities of discrimination, racism, and injustice the lives of all people are equally valuable to God.
We all point to the same place as the place where God speaks and where we experience the feelings of life.
What is this place?
It is the heart.
Today or sometime this week would you do something here with me?
Would you name either to yourself or go and tell someone of three things that you love.
I’ll start here.
I love the smell and taste of a good cup of coffee early in the morning while I am reading a good book.
I love spending time with my daughter, Evie at the park on a warm summer day.
I love teaching other people about God and speaking to others about faith.
Now after you do that.
Then do one more thing.
After you name your three things… whatever they may be.
Do one more thing.
Take a deep breath…
And then say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, God.”
A grateful heart is a happy heart.
A grateful heart is a generous heart.
A grateful heart is a faith-filled heart.
Go and give thanks to God.
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”