Today we celebrate Harvest Festival. Here at Christ Church Cathedral we also offer the Eucharist as our Gift Day. There is something very fundamental in such celebrations - giving thanks to God for His provision is essential for life. It is most appropriate that we should have Harvest Festivals as part of our liturgical calendar. Our stewardship goes beyond taking care of our physical facility and paying our operating costs. As Christians, God reminds us to think of our pledge as what we can give to God in thanks for all that we have been given. However, in the busyness of life, we may forget to give thanks.

Jesus had an encounter with a Samaritan leper that teaches us about having an attitude of gratitude. I commend to your reading Luke 17:11-19.

What was different about the Samaritan leper, the one who did return? Why did he leave everything behind to show his appreciation? We all have something that God does not give to himself: our praise and our worship. Please do not ever underestimate the value of these important gifts!

There might have been good reasons why nine out of ten healed lepers never returned to Jesus to thank him. Perhaps they were too busy telling their families and friends about the miracle they had received. Perhaps they were busy trying to convince their families and friends that they really had been healed and were now safe to be around. Perhaps they were preoccupied getting jobs to support themselves, since they could no longer live in the leper colony. All valid reasons. In the busyness of life, we may forget to give thanks.

When we experience a miracle - any kind of healing, answered prayer, or a gift we have been wanting from God - what do we do? We get busy enjoying and using the gift. Yes, that does glorify God, for a gift is meaningless when we put it on a shelf collecting dust. For example, if we receive the job we have been praying for and then do our very best in that job, we are glorifying God.

If we are emotionally or physically healed and then use our new freedom to do a work or a ministry that helps others, we are glorifying God. But that is not the same as returning to Jesus with a heart full of humble gratefulness. It is not prostrating ourselves at the feet of Jesus. What the Samaritan leper did was to take time out to pray, praise and worship. It was not only his body that was healed. His faith in Jesus saved his soul, because he understood the importance of spending time alone with Jesus in gratefulness in thanksgiving.

Jesus referred to the grateful man as a Samaritan, an outsider, a foreigner, perhaps to underscore His saying that "the sons of this world are more shrewd . . . than the sons of light" (Luke 16:8). The word translated "shrewd" means "thoughtful." Sometimes people we think less of or expect little from would have better manners or more consideration than we do at times.

God is doing a miracle in your life today. No matter how your circumstances are right now, he is doing many good deeds for you. However, in order to notice this, you have to stop what you are doing and take time to praise and worship him. Thank him for being so good to you. Thank him for what he is doing even though you can't see it yet.

So like the now ex-leper, you must stay there with your face at his feet long enough to discover what is good, what miracles are taking place, what gifts God is giving to you. Oh, and then stay there a little longer - long enough to thank him. He will say to you, "Stand up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."

Rev'd. Fr. Colin Humes