November 19, 2023 - Home Worship

For the week of November 19-25 – 25th Sunday after Pentecost

Morning Prayer You have our trust, Father, and our faith, with our bodies and all that we are and possess.  We fear nothing when with You, safe to stretch out and help others, those troubled in faith, those troubled in body.  Father, help us to do with our bodies what we proclaim, that our faith be known to You and to others, and be effective in all the world. Amen.  (A prayer from Masai, Tanzania, found in An African Prayer Book, ed. Desmond Tutu (New York: Image/Doubleday, 1995), 67-68.)

Hymn: #131 We Gather Together

  1. We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
    He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
    The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
    Sing praises to His name, He forgets not His own.
  2. Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
    ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
    so from the beginning the fight we were winning;
    thou, Lord, wast at our side, all glory be Thine!
  3. We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
    and pray that Thou still our defender wilt be.
    Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
    Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

Psalm 123

I raise my eyes to You—    You who rule heaven.

2 Just as the eyes of servants attend to their masters’ hand,
just as the eyes of a female servant attend to her mistress’ hand—
that’s how our eyes attend to the
Lord our God until He has mercy on us.

3 Have mercy on us, Lord! Have mercy because we’ve had more than enough shame.

4 We’ve had more than enough mockery from the self-confident,
more than enough shame from the proud.

Children’s Time 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11

But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with Him.

Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

Children’s Message

How many of you have ever heard someone say, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me"? Now, how many of you believe that - believe that words can't hurt people? Boys and girls, words can hurt people. Most grown-ups I know can remember something that was said to them when they were a child that hurt them; I know I can. But in the same way that words have the power to hurt, they also have the power to help and make us feel good. There's a verse in the Bible that talks about how God wants us to use our words to help others. It's I Thessalonians 5:11, and the first part of it says, "Encourage one another, and build each other up." I looked up the word "encourage" in the dictionary even though I knew what it meant. Sometimes I'll do that with a word that I already know because it helps me to understand it a little better. The dictionary said that "encourage" means to "give courage, hope or confidence to; to give support to or help." Don't let anyone tell you that you can't encourage others because you are too young; the Bible talks about that, too. Will each of you find someone this week who needs to be encouraged? It may be a neighbor, a person that you know in school, or even someone in your own family. You can use words to encourage someone and build them up.

Dear Lord, please lead each of these children this week to someone that needs to be encouraged. In Jesus' name, amen. (

Prayers of Intercession:  Thank You, Lord, for hearing our prayers for those dear to our hearts.  We now pray as You have taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us, not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen. 

Offering spotlight: One of the recipients of Missions giving through LUMC is well-drilling in the country of Sierra Leone.  Clean, untainted wells are so desperately needed in the poverty-ravaged country.  To designate your offering, see Amy Dent to either use the offering envelope system or ACH transfers from your account to the church account.  Thank you for giving to God’s ministries that are supported by Lightstreet’s Mission team.

Offering prayer: Lord of peace and serenity, receive the gifts we bring this day as we present them in thankfulness and joy. We bring ourselves as our offering, that in living lives of truth, justice, honor, and excellence, we might please You and be worthy of Your never-failing love and presence with us. Grateful that Christ and the Holy Spirit might dwell in us, we pray in Jesus’ holy name. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn #694 Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

  1. Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
    all is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
    God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
    come to God's own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.
  2. All the world is God's own field, fruit as praise to God we yield;
    wheat and tares together sown are to joy or sorrow grown;
    first the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
    Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.
  3. For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take the harvest home;
    from the field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
    giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
    but the fruitful ears to store in the garner evermore.
  4. Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
    gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
    there, forever purified, in Thy presence to abide;
    come, with all Thine angels, come, raise the glorious harvest home.

Message Scripture:  Luke 17:11-19

11 On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As He entered a village, ten men with skin diseases approached Him. Keeping their distance from Him, 13 they raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, show us mercy!”

14 When Jesus saw them, He said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they left, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw that he had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice. 16 He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus replied, “Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?” 19 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

Message: Only One Said Thanks          Pastor Ron

One night many years ago, Ed Spencer, a student at a seminary near Lake Michigan, was awakened by shouts that there had been a shipwreck offshore from the campus. An excursion boat from the nearby Chicago harbor had collided with a freighter and was sinking. Spencer ran down to the lakeshore from which he could see the lights from the boats. A strong swimmer, he plunged into the icy water and started searching for survivors. For six hours Spencer swam out and back, pulling people ashore, battling stormy waves and a powerful undertow. By dawn he had personally rescued 15 people in as many trips. Exhausted, he sat down until someone spotted two more still in the water. Spencer dove in again and found a man and a woman clinging desperately to a piece of wreckage. He brought them in, too, and collapsed on the beach.

Less than one-fourth of the 400 passengers survived the shipwreck. 17 of them had been rescued by Ed Spencer. His own health, however, had been irreparably damaged by his act of heroism, and he was never able to return to school. Years later, a reporter doing a story on Great Lakes tragedies found Spencer as an old man living in a nursing home in California and asked for his recollections of that night. Bitterly, Ed replied, “The only thing I remember is that not one of the 17 ever thanked me.”

Ingratitude. For some people it is a way of life, a very ugly way of life. Everyone who lives a life dedicated to others encounters it at some time or another. Golfing legend Arnold Palmer encountered it in professional golfers who did appreciate what a fortunate situation they were in. He said, “Players complain to me all the time about how hard it is to constantly sign autographs or talk to the press or spend time with amateurs, I tell them all the same thing: ‘If you don’t like it, don’t walk out of the clubhouse door. Quit. No one is forcing you to do this.’”

He went on to say, “A lot of players just don’t understand how lucky we all are to be doing what we do. I look at my life and all I can do is be thankful for everything I’ve been given by so many people over so many years.” Author John Feinstein adds this comment, “Maybe that is the key to Arnold Daniel Palmer. After all those years; after playing golf with six presidents; after having signed every autograph; after granting every interview request; after making several thousand golfers wealthy men; he looked back and talked not about what he did for golf, but about what golf did for him.”

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. His journey leads Him along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As He was going into one village, ten men who had leprosy met Him. Standing at a distance they called out in loud voices, “Jesus, Master, show us mercy.” When He saw them, He said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw that had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice. He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Weren’t ten cleansed?” Where are the other nine? No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

Sisters and brothers, I suppose a million sermons have been preached on that question: “Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” Only one of the ten returned to praise God. But that one gives us some important lessons.

For one thing, we can see that faith and gratitude go hand in hand. Think about it and I think you will agree. If you trust God, you cannot help but have a profound sense of gratitude about what God has done in your life. Conversely, if you are a person without a sense of gratitude for what God has done in your life, you ought to examine your heart to see if God really does dwell there.

Gwendolyn Diaz, in her book Sticking Up for Who I Am, tells about a teenager whom she calls Jeremy. She met Jeremy at a youth leadership conference. One day she asked Jeremy, “Are you having a good day?” Jeremy responded, “I sure am.” And he began to list all the things God had already done for him that day. He had enjoyed a hot shower, eaten a wonderful breakfast, gone for a walk in the woods, and listened to some great music. Things most of us take for granted evoked gratefulness in Jeremy’s heart.

As Diaz got to know Jeremy better, she discovered that his father had died when he was very young. He had been raised in a home filled with alcoholism and abuse. Irate landlords had often evicted the family from run-down apartments. He had lived in shelters and seedy motels for much of his life. Yet Jeremy insisted that God had always provided for him. “God always took care of me. He always knew what I needed.” Jeremy explained.

When his grandfather – the only man who had ever loved and cared for him died a few years ago as a result of alcoholism, Jeremy changed, for a time. He developed a destructive attitude. He shaved his head and started dressing all in black Gothic attire. But then one day, for a reason known only to him, Jeremy walked into a church. Some of the kids from the youth group invited him to join them. They insisted on loving Jeremy despite his counterculture appearance. It wasn’t long before he embraced the love of their God as well. Difficulties continued to haunt Jeremy and his family. The latest of his many stepfathers had died of cancer and another abusive man had taken his place. But Jeremy knew that God would somehow use the situation to bring about good. “I know God will use everything that’s going on,” he insisted. “Somehow it’s going to be an important part of how He wants to use me.”

How do you explain the amazing outlook on life that Jeremy had? He had every reason, from the perspective of most of us, to be distrustful of God. Yet his heart overflowed with gratitude for all God had done for him. It can only be the grace of God at work in Jeremy’s heart. Faith and gratitude go hand in hand.

The real question is why you and I aren’t bubbling over with gratitude. God has blessed us in so many ways. From time to time all of us experience heartaches. That’s all a part of living in a fallen world. But on balance, our lives are very, very good. Why on earth don’t we come into this building just bubbling over with praise and thanksgiving? When the healed man fell down before Him, Jesus asked, “Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?” (17-18)

Randy Phillips tells about an elderly woman who had a major influence on his life. She was a member of the church where Randy’s father was pastor. Randy says, “I was the meanest preacher’s kid you ever saw, but this lady, ‘Mamma Ruth’ Thurman felt sorry for me. She took me to her house way out in the country where there were acres to run and play on.” One hot Texas day, Randy reports, he came in to find Mamma Ruth praying in the living room. Randy couldn’t help but listen as she prayed. She prayed for her children and then she prayed for Randy. “It stopped me cold,” says Randy, “to know that someone who really should be praying for other things was taking the time to pray for me.

Years later when I introduced my wife to Mamma Ruth, my wife asked, ‘Do you still pray for Randy?’ Mamma Ruth answered, ‘I pray for him every day.’” Randy goes on to say, “She’d been praying for me for 20 years, and when she died two years ago, it dawned on me that I never took the time to thank her. She prayed for me when I couldn’t and didn’t pray for myself, and I think a lot of the things that have come to me are because she was praying.” In the world to come, Randy Phillips concludes, he thinks the heroes will not be the singers and the writers and the people that grace the stage, but the devout people who spent time on their knees praying for others.

It’s interesting that Randy never thanked Mamma Ruth. Why not? You and I know. We have a list in the recesses of our heart of people who have made a positive difference in our lives, yet we have never to express our appreciation. It’s not surprising then if we don’t take time to thank other human beings for their kindnesses that we also have never really thanked God. For you see, if we have ever really thanked God for all that He had done for us, our lives would be transformed. We would have a sense of joy. We would have a sense of trust. I mean, God is with us. God has been with us. God will always be with us. How can we walk around with so much uncertainty and doubt? How can we have such gloom written on our faces? God has done wonderous things for us. So, what is it that keeps us from bubbling over with thanksgiving?

Faith and gratitude are forever linked together. The real puzzle in life is why you and I don’t express our gratitude in our daily lives. Notice how this story from Luke’s Gospel ends. Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.” (19) Jesus doesn’t praise the man for coming back and giving thanks. He doesn’t have to. He knows the man’s heart. This man is in tune with God’s will for his life.

This man knows God loves him. His life is a study in thankfulness. Jesus simply affirms that this man is a person of faith. And that is all that is necessary for him to live a whole and complete life.

There is healing in an attitude of faith and thanksgiving. I am convinced that we would have fewer people suffering from emotional and physical pain if they incorporated faith and a sense of gratitude into their lives. Barbara Sholis wrote an article for Christian Century in which she talked about her own experience of being healed. Barbara said she could identify with these ten lepers and their disease. This is a passage she lives close to.

“When chemotherapy causes your hair to fall out, robs you of your energy and fills your mouth with canker sores, you begin to develop empathy with the lepers.

There is no hiding the fact that you are diseased. Your cancer walks into the room before you do and people who know better still flinch as they did before the lepers, who were made to live outside the community, who had to beg for survival.

Now that she is well, Barbara identifies closely with the tenth leper, the one who returned with gratitude. “Like the tenth leper,” she writes, “I never want to lose sight of the miracle of God’s grace. Being grateful as I awaken to the gift each day is the key.” She has come to believe that gratitude is “the purest measure of one’s character and spiritual condition.”

Barbara’s right. Gratitude is the purest measure of one’s character and spiritual condition. And there is healing in such gratitude. I believe it is the answer to a lot of the stress in our lives. I believe it is the answer to heartbreak and loss. I believe that all of us would have healthier minds and bodies if we could have such faith and gratitude.

Are you one of the nine healed lepers who did not give thanks? Or do you feel a great sense of gratitude to God. I hope that each of us will leave this room bubbling over with joy about all the things God has done for us. And as we celebrate Thanksgiving may each one of us be like the one who returned to offer thanks.

Closing Hymn: #102 Now Thank We All Our God

  1. Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
    who wondrous things has done, in whom this world rejoices;
    who from our mothers' arms has blessed us on our way
    with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
  2. O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
    with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
    and keep us still in grace, and guide us when perplexed;
    and free us from all ills, in this world and the next.
  3. All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
    the Son, and Him who reigns with them in highest heaven;
    the one eternal God, whom earth and heaven adore;
    for thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

Go into your week with the blessings of The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit.