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Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s reading is from Luke 17:11-19 where the Bible says,    

11 On the way to Jerusalem [Jesus] was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Thanksgiving is the day when we gather around the table with our loved ones and relish a big feast, giving thanks to God for all of His blessings to us and to our country. The celebration is often credited to President Abraham Lincoln, whose edict in 1863 made the fourth Thursday of every November the Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate today. Now, it should not surprise us that Thanksgivings had been celebrated in our country long before that. We are reminded of the Pilgrims and the native Americans celebrating Thanksgiving in 1621. We remember President George Washington calling for a National Day of Thanks in 1789. What might surprise is the fact that other Presidents chose not to celebrate the holiday, causing the national celebration to be an intermittent one until Lincoln’s proclamation. Even Lincoln’s bold move took the urging of one Mrs. Sarah Joseph Hale. Mrs. Hale started lobbying for declaring Thanksgiving Day a permanent, ongoing holiday. Her cajoling finally came to fruition in the 1863 edict that still causes us to pause each year on the last Thursday of November to give thanks to God for all that we are and have.

So the holiday begs the question, “Is giving thanks really necessary?” I’m sure that many take Thursday off with no notion of being thankful to God. Many are more worried about their favorite football team than whether they have or need God’s favor. Yet they still get the day off; they still get the potential peace and quiet that such a day of respite can bring. And that’s exactly the point that Jesus is making by healing the ten lepers in today’s Bible reading.

All ten were healed. All ten were given their lives back. But only one, a Samaritan, realized that there was a bigger healing, a greater miracle, the miracle that God loved him and wanted an eternal life with him. Jesus told him, “Your faith has made you well.” That was true in more ways than one; it involved both physical healing and eternal restoration. So if you want the fullness of the blessings that Thanksgiving can bring, remember with thanksgiving God’s love for you in Jesus Christ. Remember with thanksgiving God’s promise to be with you and to care for you. Amidst all the issues of the day, remember that faith in Jesus Christ leads us to see all the blessings that Thanksgiving Day was meant to give. And, yes, it’s really necessary…. just wait and see!

Dear Lord Jesus, it’s so easy to take things for granted today. Give me a heart that is thankful to You for all that I have, for all that I am, and for all that I can be because You love me. Most especially, give me and the ones that I love a thankful heart for the gift of faith which receives Your greatest gift of eternal salvation. AMEN

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