Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. Luke 17:15 NRSV
Each year, just as many congregations do, our little church manages to supply plenty of needful families with a full Thanksgiving feast. Complete with turkey and all the trimmings, the members of our parish do not scrimp on anything. God calls Christians to feed the hungry, to give of our selves and our earthly treasures. In doing so we store up treasure in heaven.
Frankly, we hand out plenty of groceries bags each and every week, including one large distribution on the third Saturday of each month. Hundreds of people have entered our doors, most every one of them thanking us for the good that we do. Of course, no one in the congregation sees this as the good the “we” do, rather, it is the good that “God does through us.” Still, it is nice to realize that our efforts are appreciated.
Just a couple of days ago, I had a conversation with a friend and he was telling me how the food bank he volunteers for hands out food as well. They have a process where they screen the people who come in the door. Questions are asked concerning income, number of people living in the house, do they receive food stamps or WIC coupons? All of their answers are recorded on a form and stored in a file. When I asked why this was done, the answer I received was that they didn’t have enough to hand out to those who don’t deserve it.
I struggle with the notion of giving primarily to “those who deserve it.” What must one do to deserve a meal when one cannot afford to put food on the table? What must one do to deserve receiving a gift given through anonymous generosity, but is distributed according to the worthiness of the recipient? Truth be told, if I only received what I deserved, I would be among the neediest.
I’ve thought long and hard about this encounter. I really didn’t figure I would post it as one of the earliest entries to my new blog. But then, as I was working in my office this morning the phone rang. Theresa called to say thank you for the wonderful dinner our church provided. Her children loved the turkey, pulled apart the wish bone, and gave thanks for such a wonderful meal. Ahhh…treasure in heaven!
Were not all ten healed? Yet only one returned to thank his healer, praising God with a loud voice. Oh, I’m certain all the others rejoiced as well, just as all those whom we fed last week gave thanks to God for the blessing of a wonderful meal. But oh how I give thanks for the one; for the one who returned thanking and praising God. What else could I say except, “You’re welcome…and God bless you.”