Rev. Andy Rice
Oak Grove Presbyterian Church
Several months ago I found myself doing something that I don’t do often enough. I was writing a thank you note! I was writing it to some friends of mine in Lewisburg who let me stay the night with them back in June when we had such terrible floods in our area. You may recall that Rt. 219 was flooded for some time, and consequently I was unable to get back to my home in Hillsboro. Thankfully though, I was welcomed into their home as one of the family, and was even treated to a marvelous spaghetti dinner. It’s on occasions like this where we can really get a glimpse of what gratitude and thankfulness is all about. My friends let me stay in their home, yes, and they even served a nice dinner. I was grateful for both these things, and they definitely received mention in my note, but what I am truly thankful for in the end is the relationship that I have with them. Without that relationship as a foundation nothing else could have happened. There would have been no warm bed; there would have been no spaghetti dinner.
The relationships we have with others should be broad avenues of gratitude and thanksgiving. Too often we get bogged down in the details of our interactions with one another. We make things transactional and keep a mental tally of who owes what to whom. Even when we do remember to say “thank you” to one another, we’re almost always referring to merely one action or favor.
How often do we look beyond that?
How often do we manage to thank a person not just for something they have done, but for who they are and for what they truly mean to us?
In considering this, I’m reminded of a story in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus heals 10 lepers of their afflictions. Of the 10 who are healed, only one makes the effort to say “thank you.” But he isn’t just saying thank you for the healing. He falls down and praises God because of what’s happened. It’s clear that he understands who Jesus really is. Jesus even acknowledges this by declaring that the man’s faith has made him well, beyond the simple curing of the disease. By offering thanks and praise, the man showed that he not only appreciated what had been done for him, but that he wanted to be in relationship with God from that day forward.
As we gather with our families and friends for Thanksgiving and the coming holidays, we are given the same opportunity as this man who was healed by Jesus. We have the chance to show gratitude to the people in our lives, but we must go beyond simply thanking people for what they’ve done. If we want the people we care about to know how important they are to us, then we must tell them. We must thank them for simply being our friends, parents, children, siblings, relatives or whatever they might be. If we want those relationships to be as deep and as meaningful as they should be, then they need to be cherished far above anything else we value or appreciate.
All the good things in our lives flow from the relationships we have with other, and especially from that most important relationship that we have with God.
So, this year let’s not just thank people for what they’ve done. Let’s thank them for who they are.