First Thoughts From The Rev. Canon David Smith: 

Most weeks Fr. David sends out an e-mail with his first thoughts on the upcoming Sunday readings. These reflections are designed to encourage people to consider the readings before they come to worship which we hope will enrich Sunday worship. People are invited to respond to David with their own thoughts and sometimes interesting ideas and conversations occur that end up in the sermon. If you would like to receive these weekly e-mails e-mail David at  . 

Reflections on the Readings for Sunday October 12, 2014

Posted by Emily Sanderson on Friday, October 10, 2014

Readings: Deuteronomy 8: 7-18, Philippians 4: 1-9, Luke 17 :11-19

Our Old Testament lesson has obviously been chosen for Harvest Thanksgiving

because of its references to the bounty of the land. The Israelites are

about to enter the Promised Land and they will have much to eat and drink.

They will have wealth and prosperity and all of these things are described

as good. Although there is poverty in Canada and people in our own

communities struggle to eat well and  to have homes ect. , I think most of

us in Canada can relate to the rich blessings described in Deuteronomy.  It

is easy for us living in this land of plenty to mark Thanksgiving as we have

so much. It is wonderful to enjoy a good meal and to relax with family in a

nice home over Thanksgiving.  It is wonderful to live in such a beautiful

country with so many resources and opportunities.

But our reading wants to take us deeper than this. It wants to compare the

spirituality of being in the desert and wilderness where it was obvious that

the people needed divine assistance to live to the spirituality formed when

one is living with plenty. And the main teaching is to always remember God ,

to always look towards God. Our reading knows that when we have plenty it is

easy to forget God. It is easy to think that our well being and prosperous

life is all due to our own ingenuity and work and to forget God and to make

other gods our idols. It also reminds us that far more important than bread

is the  Word of God which is our food. Jesus in the wilderness quotes this

passage ," man cannot live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds

from the mouth of God" This reading reminded me of the Bonheoffer session

last week where we learned that Bonheoffer read the Scriptures every morning

and evening and reflected in silence upon them for an hour each time. He

also made his seminarians do this as well and they often balked at the

discipline. But when they were forced to fight in the war  under terrible

conditions( a wilderness environment)they all practiced the discipline of

living by the Word of God. Perhaps for them it was easier to remember God in

the wilderness than it was in safer more comfortable settings which seems to

be a teaching from our reading.

A good sermon ( although perhaps not for Thanksgiving)could focus on the

truth that none of us are self made women or men, we all need others and

even our abilities that have enabled us to prosper are gifts from God. For

me this is one of many  reasons for us who have been blessed with plenty to

be deeply concerned for and to act in ways that bring about peace and

justice so that all can share in God's bounty. We all need each other and

God and Thanksgiving is a perfect time to be mindful of this.

I really like Paul's Letter to the Philippians. It is filled with joy and

thanksgiving and our reading for Sunday reflects these themes. Although it

starts out with Paul gently addressing the issue of  disunity between two

folks who have worked alongside of Paul. Paul's strategy here seems to be to

direct the focus to positive things. He invites people to rejoice in the

Lord always, to be gentle, to overcome anxiety through prayer permeated with

thankfulness. He invites people into the peace of god which passes all

understanding. These words are the basis of the blessing I say at the end of

every service. One of the characteristics of Bonheoffer was that even in

terrible situations he had joy and peace.  We learned that he came to see

that knowing Jesus not just knowing about Jesus was key to his faith and

ministry. In our reading St. Paul reminds us that the Lord is near and

Bonheoffer  must have know that Christ was near to him to have been so

filled with joy under such difficult circumstances.

I really love the next part of our reading where Paul invites us to ponder

whatever is pure , whatever is commendable and good. This is such a fitting

exercise for Thanksgiving and a wonderful spiritual discipline.

Speaking of pure and commendable our Gospel reading portrays Jesus reaching

out and healing ten men with leprosy. This was quite a remarkable thing to

do as no one in that society would ever dream of having that close contact

with these men.  And yet in Christ we see this tremendous act of love not

only by physically healing these men but by offering them dignity. I think

I might be tempted on Sunday to  pursue this angle of the story. However,

the obvious reason we are reading this account of our Lord's ministry is

because it addresses the issue of thanksgiving. Only one person who was

healed returned to give thanks, not good. So one could jump off here with a

discussion of the importance of gratitude. I talked about this last year so

I will not bring it up again in my sermon but this story forced me  to ask

why I could not say thank you for anything several years ago and by asking

that question I worked up the courage to go get help for depression. So I

have a soft spot for this passage of Scripture. A good sermon on

Thanksgiving would start with the preacher simply saying thank you to the

parish for all that people do and for their lives of faith and service. This

is exactly how Paul starts his Letter to the Philippians.

 One of the themes running through Luke's Gospel is that Jesus was for

everyone not just the Jews. The Good Samaritan was a Samaritan the man with

leprosy who gave thanks was a Samaritan and this is obviously a point Luke

is trying to make in our reading but for Thanksgiving I think I will stick

to thanksgiving.

A long one today. Hope it is helpful to you.