Practicing Gratitude

When I lived in Kenya, there came a day in the slum when I beheld a Chevy pickup truck heading my way. Now pickup trucks were not uncommon, at least not if they were a Toyota. But a Chevy…well, I had to wave the driver down and inquire about the origins of such an American icon on the unpaved roads of Kibera. Turns out the driver was a pastor of a missionary Baptist church in the Nairobi area – good ol’ boy from Tennessee. Now the pickup truck made perfect sense. Continue reading

Being Grateful

In the first reading, we hear the end of the story of Naaman, a Syrian general, who has just been cured of his leprosy. But we don’t get to hear the start of the story. It turns out that when Naaman comes to Israel he encounters the prophet Elisha. Naaman has come bearing all manner of riches and gifts, but Elisha wants none of it. He simply instructs Naaman to wash seven times in the Jordan. Pretty simple and ordinary, yes? Continue reading

Perusing Joy: ten lepers

tenlepersI like words, their origin (or etymology if you prefer) and the ways in words affect people – and people affect words. Such as the word “peruse” which people understand to mean “glance over, skim,” etc. Yet originally the word means (and I would argue still does) to read completely and in exacting detail. Recently Merriam-Webster’s (M-W) “Word of the Day” revealed another interesting word whose meaning has done an about face: egregious. Today it means to be conspicuous or flagrant – and almost always in a negative sense. Yet the origin of the word from the Latin ex-“out of” and greg- “flock” to give us egregius “illustrious” or in a more modern sense, “outstanding.” Somewhere in the late 16th century the word was increasingly used in an ironic sense, until that usage became it every day meaning. Continue reading

Becoming Grateful

francisbrnOn his way to Jerusalem, Jesus meets 10 lepers. They ask for mercy, they are cured, and told to show themselves to the priest who will verify their healing and ritually cleanse them so that they can re-enter society. Only one returns to thank Jesus.  There are lots of commentaries and folks who conclude that the other nine, in some way, lack gratitude.

Could be, but I don’t think so… who wouldn’t be grateful to be cured of this dread disease? Who wouldn’t be grateful for being restored to their family and community?  Grateful, that they are no longer banished from the towns, the market, and the usual ebb and flow of life; no longer consigned to beg day upon day without end. I suspect they were grateful. Continue reading

Scandal, Faith and Forgiveness – context

Calling disciplesLuke 17:5-10   1 He said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.”

[The Sunday gospel reading begins here] 5 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” 6 The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to (this) mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 7 “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’? 8 Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? 9 Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’” Continue reading