Ordinary Time (Proper 23)
2 Kings 5:1–3, 7–15c; Psalm 111; 2 Timothy 2:8–15; Alma 5:39–40; Doctrine and Covenants 161:7
“Creator God We Sing (Cantemos al Creador)” CCS 114
OR “O God of Vision” CCS 78
Call to Worship
Invite three youth or an entire youth group divided into thirds, or your congregation divided into thirds, to share this call to worship in a rhythmic, enthusiastic presentation.
Youth or Group 1: Praise!
Youth or Group 2: Praise the Lord!
Youth or Group 3: I will give thanks to the Lord
All: with my whole heart!
Youths or Groups 1 and 2: Great are the works of the Lord!
Youth or Group 3: God’s righteousness endures forever!
Youth or Group 1: The Lord is gracious and merciful.
Youth or Group 2: Holy and awesome is God’s name!
Youth or Group 3: God’s praise endures forever.
All: Let the sound of God’s praise be heard!
—based on Psalm 111
Hymn of Praise (sing through several times)
“Alleluia” CCS 103
OR “Laudate Dominum” CCS 91
Read aloud the book, Splat Says Thank You! by Rob Scotton (Harper Collins, 2012, ISBN 9780061978746).
In this story we are invited to explore what it means to practice gratitude. It is not simply saying thank you, or minding your manners, but being so filled with gratefulness that it stops you in your tracks, and causes you to turn back to joyously share your thankfulness.
After the story, discuss the following questions:
- Why is expressing gratitude so important for other people to hear?
- How is it just as important for the person expressing the gratitude?
- Why would expressing gratitude to someone increase your happiness?
- To whom in your life do you owe the most gratitude? What would you say to that person?
Provide supplies so each person can make a gratitude card. Each can create a simple card by folding a single sheet of paper in half and then with the folded edge at the top, fold in half again. Next, the people will create a gratitude cover on the first page, and then open the paper, and write or draw expressions of gratitude on the two inside panels. Ask them to write their name on the back and add the phrase, A Grateful Disciple. Invite people to share their cards with one another and then, as a group, ask everyone to shout out something for which they are grateful.
Confession Responsive Reading
Leader: Living God,
Congregation: you have given us life, but we often forget to thank you.
Leader: Gracious God,
Congregation: when you bless us, sometimes we are ungracious and ungrateful.
Leader: Reconciling God,
Congregation: you have forgiven us when we are sinful, but we have not shown the same generosity to others.
Leader: Grace-filled God,
Congregation: forgive our ingratitude.
Hymn of Gratitude
“For the Beauty of the Earth” CCS 130
OR “My Gratitude Now Accept, O God”/“Gracias, Señor” CCS 614/615
Based on Luke 17:11–19
Disciples’ Generous Response
Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 29:4–7
Generous gratitude—recognizing what you have been given, and being thankful—is nothing less than wholeness. Jeremiah encourages the Israelites in exile in Babylon to settle down and support the community where they find themselves, knowing that increasing the welfare of the city would increase their own welfare. It is a reminder that we are all interconnected and the support of the wider community will bring about health in ourselves. God has blessed us with a wonderful Earth and filled it with a beautiful family of brothers and sisters. Disciples’ Generous Response isn’t just something personal between us and God. It is also about being part of a community in a real and concrete way. Have you, like the lepers, been touched by Jesus? Are you looking for that deep healing, that inner peace, that sense of belonging and knowing who you are and whose you are? Say thank you not just in your words but also in your actions. Do this and let your faith make you whole.
Gratitude is a sense of having been gifted that transforms itself into action. What is it that invites you into such gratefulness?
For additional ideas and resources, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.
Blessing and Receiving of Mission Tithes
Prayer for Peace
Song of Peace
“Prayer of Peace” (stanzas 5 and 6) CCS 164
Light the peace candle during the song.
Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 161:7
God of all that is, we praise you. We give thanks for this time of remembering your guidance and plan for creation to be at peace. Forgive us when we have not remembered and have been guilty of actions and thoughts that did not promote peace. Heal us, we humbly pray, O God, that we may be instruments of your peace in this world where at times, little peace is found. Amen.
Additional ideas: The Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, are on the church’s website as Calendar Events at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.
Hymn of Commitment
“The Summons” CCS 586
OR “Lord, Make Us Instruments” CCS 364
And now, be humble and gentle; full of patience and long suffering; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatever you need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks to God for whatever things you receive. —Alma 5:39–40, adapted
Ordinary Time (Proper 23)
Exploring the Scripture
This story only appears in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus heals 10 lepers, only one of whom returns to offer thanks and praise. Lepers were outcasts and were “untouchable” because their disease made them unclean according to Jewish ritual law. They call out from a distance, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (v. 13).
Jesus does what the people with leprosy ask and sends them to priests for confirmation the disease is gone. Only one of the healed lepers returns to thank Jesus. Jesus’ response to him is, “…your faith has made you well” (v. 19). Other versions of the Bible translate this phrase as “…your faith has made you whole” or “…your faith has saved you.”
There have been studies of the health of grateful people. Seemingly gratitude as a permanent trait has a positive effect on health and wholeness. According to the studies, gratitude can reduce stress and boost one’s immune system. Saying “Thank you” is not only a matter of etiquette, it literally blesses. In this passage, Jesus says gratitude made the leper whole.
Making a special point, Luke says the one thankful leper is a Samaritan, a foreigner. The one who remembers to be grateful is considered an outsider because he is not a Jew. However, Jesus credits the healing of the thankful Samaritan to his faith. This man lived according to principles that caused him to return to Jesus and express his thanks. His is a living faith and a great example for us.
How often do we receive God’s grace and love without remembering to be thankful? At times we are like the nine lepers who accept God’s gift, but take it for granted. Or we assume we have somehow earned it. It is important that Luke included this story, not to call attention to the one leper over others; but to show us how faithful disciples respond to God’s grace and generosity—with thanks and praise. As disciples, when we practice true gratitude, it comes from within; there is no mandate or command. It becomes a daily discipline. It overflows from the love of God we feel.
At the heart of Christian behavior is our gratitude to God for our lives, the world, our friends and families, and especially the gift of Jesus Christ as an expression of God’s love and grace. Praise God!
- Gratitude and praise are foundational Christian responses to God’s generosity and grace.
- At times we take God’s grace for granted or think we have earned it. In our more aware moments, we remember to be grateful and praise God always. With discipline, gratitude can become a way of life.
- Gratitude comes from an overflowing heart that confesses God as giver of all.
Questions to Consider
- Do you review your day with God daily? How do you express your gratitude?
- Have there been times when you or your congregation acted like the nine lepers, forgetting to be grateful and offer praise?
- Why do you think Luke identifies the grateful leper as a Samaritan, a foreigner?
- Where is gratitude visible in your congregation? Where could it be improved?
- How might wholeness of body, mind, and spirit be connected to gratitude?