On Mondays I share liturgical writing focused on the Luke passages for each Sunday in the Revised Common Lectionary. This week’s scripture is Luke 17:11-19 … and then there was one! Ray Wilbur of Dover, New Hampshire, shares a theological reflection. There is additional liturgy for a Sunday bulletin.
Gift of Ray Wilbur
The primary key to Jesus’ earthly ministry was the healing of the sick, so on his final journey to Jerusalem, facing his crucifixion at the hands of the Romans, he responded to ten lepers who called out to him, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” He told them to go and show themselves to the priests, in the temple in Jerusalem. As they went they were all healed of their disease. But one, a Samaritan who would not have been received by the priests, turned back to Jesus, praising God for his healing and giving thanks to Jesus. Jesus made the point that the one of the healed was a Samaritan, a foreigner by Jewish standards. Jesus declared that the man’s faith had healed him, and sent him on his way.
Why were the Jews hostile to Samaritans? After the United Monarchy of David and Solomon the Jewish nation broke into two relatively hostile countries, Israel in the north and Judea in the south. In the eighth century B.C. the northern kingdom was overrun by the Assyrians who exiled many wealthy Jews and imported many Assyrians, with whom many Jews intermarried, so what had been the northern kingdom was no longer strictly Jewish. The Judean people were later exiled to Babylon, but after some 70 years came back to Judea as “pure” Jews, to rebuild the temple. The northern people, now largely Samaritans, opposed them, and so hostility grew between them.
But Jesus was not hostile to the Samaritans. In the parable of “the
Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37) Jesus showed that a Samaritan could be a good neighbor to a Jew. Also, when on his way to Jerusalem , a Samaritan village refused to entertain him and his disciples because they were headed toward Jerusalem. His disciples wanted to invoke God’s destruction on the village, but Jesus rebuked them for their hostility, telling them “You do not know what spirit you are of, for the Son of Man has not come to destroy the lives of human beings but to save them” (Luke 9:51-56).
Another important encounter with the Samaritans is recounted in John’s Gospel (4:1-42): the disciples buying food in a nearby Samaritan city, Jesus’ extended conversation with a Samaritan woman at the well, and her testimony to her fellow citizens about Jesus as the Savior. On another occasion some Jews accused Jesus of being a Samaritan (John 8:48).
The book of Acts, authored by Luke, has significant references to the Samaritans.
In Acts 1:8 the disciples are told to be witnesses to Jesus, beginning in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, then to the ends of the earth. Acts 8:1-25 recounts how the Gospel was preached among the Samaritans and well received by them.
So we see how the Gospel can be retold in the light our passage, Luke 17:11-19. The Samaritan leper, healed by Jesus’ word, appears to have been the first follower of Jesus from the people of his Samaritan heritage. Praise be to the Lord!
Gift of Maren Tirabassi
Call to Worship
Come to God – do not keep your distance.
We come with the bells we ring
in order to keep everyone but God away.
Come to God – bring your raw neediness
your isolation, fears, and minimal hopes.
We come and sometimes we don’t expect much.
Come to God or come back to God –
Surprise God and surprise yourselves.
We come with thanks
and then faith makes us well.
Merciful God, we meet you on our journeys and our detours ,and you gather around us a community where we can be home. Help us to discover all our reasons to thank you, to celebrate ourselves, to set down our prejudices and then send us out to share good news wherever any of your children is lonely or unloved. Amen
Prayer of Confession
Holy God, we confess that sometimes we are not grateful –
to those who care for us, love us and heal us,
to those who’ve gone before us to give us faith and future,
to our own bodies for their resilient support.
We confess that we are sometimes thankful in our hearts,
but too negligent or hesitant to express thanks aloud.
We confess that sometimes we lavish appreciation on others
from a feeling of personal doubt and unworthiness.
Heart-healing God, accept our repentance
and plant in us a deep root of gratitude. Amen.
Assurance of Grace
Our return to God is a sign of the healing that already has taken place in us. God forgives all our sins; Thanks be to God.
All of these resources were given freely and they may be used in worship contexts. They may be adapted to fit your context. Please cite the original author when you reprint them or share them orally. For any other use please contact me so that I can put you directly in touch with that particular author.