My favorite Hebrew proverb is “Humans plan and God laughs,” because while it’s usually meant to be cynical, it does point to a few truths—we do need to plan, plans don’t always work out, and God is capable of laughter. If everything had gone to my plan when I was 19, I’d be teaching middle school English and History overseas while polishing my Pulitzers for playwriting and, I don’t know, being handsome. One of the clear messages that has come through in this season of Lent is that the Holy Spirit and her agenda of grace are quite often surprising, unexpected and still with marvelous, miraculous results.
This week’s text is about ten lepers being healed by Jesus, and one coming back to thank him: a Samaritan. The story is in the Gospel according to Luke, and Luke’s Jesus likes Samaria. He tells the story of the Good Samaritan, he face-palms when James and John recommend destroying Samaria for not letting them pass through; but then, the simple act of gratitude following grace gives Jesus pause.
I don’t want to give away the sermon, yet, but I wonder if that made Jesus change his plans, whatever they may have been. How many other times did he heal a handful or group of people and get no simple thanks? What of all the thousands and thousands he fed in the wilderness—he healed there, as well, and the stories do not document folks saying, “Thanks!” Maybe because it’s implicit. Maybe because being offered wholeness and then embracing it is way more powerful. But then, we have this story.
One of my inexplicably favorite theologians, Karl Barth, once wrote, “Gratitude follows grace like thunder follows lightning.” It’s a good quote for this week with its storms, and for our Samaritan leper that just threw a wrench in my plans this week. But we’ll get to Sunday—DON’T FORGET TO SPRING FORWARD—and see what happens. I look forward to seeing you then.