Thanksgiving Lessons from a Foreigner

16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then said Jesus, “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.”  – Luke 17:16-19 (NIV)

 There are bath people and shower people.  I’m a shower person!

When I was in high-school, an athlete who worked out almost every day after classes, there was nothing I loved better than my shower at the school after the workout.  The school was right next to the water tower and had plenty of pressure.  I know they reduced it but not to the level we do in our households.  And forget the 40- 60- 80-gallon hot water tank.  The school (I suspect) had a huge boiler of some sort to supply the hot water needs of the school.  We’re talking a shower that lasted almost as long as the workout! I have loved showers ever since!

Recently, I bought one of those square, rain shower heads for our home– ten square inches of needle like hot-water coming from directly above me.  It feels so good that I have actually been disappointed with the showers in some of the nicer hotels in which I have stayed!


But then there are my experiences as I have traveled with our missionaries.  I have had showers where the hot-water heater was provided by a small continuous heater that required the pilot light to be relit every time someone wants hot water.  I have taken showers with the widow maker electric heater that is on the end of the shower pipe in the stall with you (the secret there as some of my co-travelers failed to learn is not opening the tap too wide… the slower the water passes over the element the warmer it is!).  I have even been in a home where we took – in their words- a “Rusky Shower”- a five-gallon bucket of hot water warmed up on the stove and a dipper set in a bath tub!  All of these experiences (and others) have made me really appreciate the luxury of the showers we have here in the US- even when it doesn’t have a “rain” showerhead!

You see, I really want to be a grateful, thankful person like the foreigner in the Biblical story.  I want to be one of those people who is grateful for the little things and sends thank you notes to the people who help me do my job, who bless me in various ways and who just make life better by their presence.  But instead, I’m afraid I’m one of the nine in our story.  I intend to be thankful, but I let the busy-ness of life get in the way of sending a note or even saying a proper “thank you”.   By the time I slow down enough to truly appreciate the action or gift, a note wouldn’t display my gratitude but other attributes of who I am!  So, I tell myself that they know I’m appreciative and jump back into the maelstrom.


This week is at time when we as a nation slow down and try to be the one who returned… we try to say thanks.  So, to all of you who make my life better…better than even a long hot shower…thank you.  And especially to our God who loved us enough to become Flesh, there are not enough words.  Like many of you, I hope God will receive – as inadequate as it is – some of my feeble efforts to serve as a sincere expression of my gratitude for God’s creation, Jesus’ sacrifice and the Spirit’s presence in my life.

Prayer: For all that we take for granted and forget to come back to you, I give you thanks right now.  To paraphrase our brother, Thomas, Lord – I am thankful… Help me in my ingratitude.  Amen

Steve 2014

Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran

Executive Minister


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