Giving God Thanks- Flat on my Face
Flat on his face. That was his response, his action, his way of praising God and giving thanks to Jesus.
This weekend we will hear of Jesus cleansing ten lepers in Luke 17. Identified as a Samaritan, one leper upon seeing he was healed turned back praising God with a loud voice and thanking Jesus. Prostrating himself- lying down face down and spread out at the feet of Jesus that was his response to being made clean, healed. Thanking Jesus.
This nine verse episode is unique to Luke’s gospel. Luke’s gospel has Samaritan stories; both a story of a Samaritan who rejects Jesus (Luke 9:51-53) and a Samaritan as the one who really practices neighborly love (Luke 10:25-37) aka The Good Samaritan. In Luke's gospel location and place matter and we are in the chapters of Jesus headed to Jerusalem. In these verses his location while he is “on the way” and he encounters these ten men is- an in-between place entering an unnamed village, between Samaria and Galilee.
It’s a curious encounter, the lepers keep their distance and recognize Jesus. They are calling out to him by name asking that he would have mercy on them. Upon seeing them Jesus instructs them to show themselves to the priests. It is on their way to do as he has instructed that they are made clean. It is only to the Samaritan that he speaks the words “your faith has made you well”. A more accurate translation would be, your faith has saved you. In these eleven verses a lot takes place. Saved. Made clean. Healed.
Reflecting upon these verses I have been wondering about the connection of gratitude and healing; gratitude as a way to acknowledge Jesus’ power and God’s presence. In this instance there is a healing, a cleansing of leprosy. Healing and being made clean. And then at the end talk of a saving faith; a faith that saves the Samaritan. Is it the connection of praising God and giving Jesus thanks that "saves" him? The word also translated as made well and made whole is a saving for the here now- not a one day, some day saving. The faith practice is gratitude and the Samaritan’s desire to thank Jesus has him change course, turn back.
Throughout this reading there are curious details and descriptions; particular words that are used that strike me as openings to let the Spirit breath life in between the words. As I walk with these words this week I am deeply curious how a practice of giving God thanks- a practice of gratitude as a faith practice will more deeply connect me and save me wherever I am. We are all on roads of many in between's and on the ways. Incorporating a more intentional gratitude practice on my journey and on the road seem to open me up to God’s power and Jesus’ love.
As I observe the beauty of this fall season with changing colors and cooler temperatures I am pausing to give thanks. It's been a great time to go for walks. To practice gratitude; giving God thanks in all sorts of times and in all manner of places has opened up in me me a curiosity about in what ways I am being healed, made whole. And just for the experience of it- I took a five minute break to lie down flat on my face.