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               Divine Liturgy 10:30 AM

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Let Us Give Thanks Unto The Lord Our God

October 9, 2022 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

ten lepers

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
October 9, 2022
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Pentecost 18
Let Us Give Thanks Unto The Lord Our God

Now one of them, when he saw that he was cleansed, turned back glorifying God with a loud voice! Moreover he prostrated himself at Jesus' feet thanking him. He was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:15-16)

Today Sacred Scripture teaches us two things: the life of faith, and the goal of our faith. This morning let us begin with the second and work our way back to the first.

In today’s Psalm 111, we find that our Lord’s good gifts and promises are “firmly established unto the ages of ages,” and that his “Holy Covenant,” the “New Covenant in his blood,” is eternal. This means that our future is assured and our End is secure.

In today’s Old Testament reading from the Liturgy of Ruth we find this gem: “And so Naomi, and her daughters in law, decided to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard while in the fields of Moab that the LORD had graciously visited his people and given them food.” (Ruth 1:6)

How did that happen? How did she hear this gospel in the fields of Moab?

St. Paul answers in today’s epistle. He writes that while he is “jailed like a criminal for the sake of the gospel,” that “The Word of God is not incarcerated.” Not locked up. Not bound up, but that it has: Free course to be preached for the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people.

And so even in the fields of Moab, 1200 years before the Lord’s Incarnation, the Good News of Christ came to Naomi in these words: “the LORD has graciously visited his people and given them bread!”

And on the strength of that message she and her daughter in law Ruth returned to Israel. To the visible church on earth. And there, by a series of unimaginable events, Ruth the Moabite woman would become the great, great grandmother of King David; and thereby an ancestor of the David Greater Son, our own dear Lord Jesus Christ: “whose kingdom shall have no end.”

A kingdom in which: if we suffer with him, we will also reign with him; and if we die with him, will be resurrected with him – just like St. Paul says in today’s holy epistle.

Recently in the Sunday morning class we talked about “eternal salvation” and what it means. We found that it is not only quantity of time … but a Quality of life inconceivable! In which we will be able to “comprehend with all the saints the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:18-19)

That is the End of our faith. The salvation of our souls. The resurrection of the body. And the life everlasting.

But today’s readings also teach us about the life of faith, and how to trust God in all circumstances. Famine is a bad thing. A terrible thing. But it was that famine that forced Naomi and her Husband, and their two young sons, to migrate to the detestable land of Moab, Israel’s ancient enemy, in order to find work so that they might keep themselves alive. But that is not the end of the story.

Instead we find in today’s lesson that even the most painful reversals, the ones that we think “will define our lives for the rest of our lives,” must finally give way, and lead to our blessed advantage.

But the famine was not the worst of it. Once they arrived in Moab Naomi’s husband died and left her a widow. But the bad news just kept coming. The two sons break their poor mother’s heart by marrying Moabite women; which was strictly forbidden; because of a multi-generational feud between Israel and Moab. And then the final straw! Both of her sons die and Naomi is left alone in a strange land, in the company of strangers.

But by these events God displayed his love for all people, of every nation, by placing Ruth the Moabite woman, into the Lineage of Jesus! So that at least a portion of the blood that Jesus shed for us on the cross, was Moabite blood, “that purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1)

And so, Dear Christians, keep the faith! Be at peace. Because God will turn our sadness into gladness. And those who “sow in tears, we will reap with shouts of joy” (Psalm 126)

Or as we sing in the hymn (TLH #409),

“And the fears that now annoy,
shall be laughter on the morrow.
Christ I suffer here with thee,
there, O share, Thy joy with me.” (TLH #409)

Yes, today’s lessons teach us what we need to know to live each day with Christian confidence; and to believe with unwavering faith in the” forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”

Today’s gospel provides us with more of the same. But let us be careful because good etiquette, while important, is not the lesson of today’s gospel; but the takeaway is the boundless love and incomparable power of Jesus.

Notice that only 1 out of 10 of the lepers returned to give thanks, and he was a Samaritan, a foreigner like Ruth. As loathsome to the Jews, as the Moabites were a millennium earlier.
But now we have two outsiders, made insiders, and counted among “the elect” by the love of Christ. And that gives hope to all men, because all of us are “by nature sinful and unclean,” Moabites and Samaritan Lepers; and if they can be included in the people of God by Jesus, so can we.

But there is still more! Let us also take note of the Lord’s authority, and the power of Christian faith. When the 10 lepers heard our Lord’s command they obeyed, and the job was done! They who were once dead men walking, were instantly restored to perfect health.

That is how it is with us, Beloved. When we come to the font we are coming to show ourselves to the Priest of all priests. To him who “became poor so that we might become rich.” And, “who knew no sin but was made sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him,” and so we are.

And because we are, we do give thanks! Not only by what we confess with our lips; but also by what we take into our mouths, the “medicine of immortality,” the flesh and blood of Christ sacramentally united to the Bread and Wine, given “for the life of the world.”

And so it is no small thing when the celebrant chants: “Let us give thanks unto the Lord our God.” Or said another way, ”let us give Eucharistia unto the Lord our God.” And the people of God echo back their joyous strain, “It is meet and right so to do!”

To which the church’s song continues, “It is truly meet, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to you, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” And in so doing the church renders perfect Eucharist, perfect thanks, with perfect faith, that makes us whole.

And so let us all return thanks today by prostrating ourselves before the feet our Lord Jesus Christ at his Holy Altar. Amen.