How Do We Thank God? by Bob Wickizer

How Do We Thank God?
Rev. Bob Wickizer
Ruth 1:[1-7]8-19a; Psalm 113; 2 Timothy 2:[3-7]8-15; Luke 17:11-19
14 October 2001

Edward Spencer was a student at Northwestern University just north of Chicago when he heard on the news that a boat filled with partygoers had capsized in a storm in Lake Michigan a few blocks from the University. Spencer quickly pulled on some clothes and rushed out into the frigid lake water to help pull survivors from the wreckage. He managed to rescue seventeen people himself. Years later his story was being told to a large audience in California when someone in the audience stood up to say that Edward Spencer himself was in the audience. The speaker interrupted her presentation to invite Spencer to the microphone. Now with white flowing hair and decades later, Spencer answered her questions until he was asked "What was the most memorable part of your experience when you rescued all those people?" Spencer paused before the microphone for a long time while the audience sat completely silent. Then he replied, "Not one of the seventeen ever thanked me."

In these past few weeks I am beginning to understand a little how Spencer and Jesus must have felt. After healing ten lepers Jesus must have stood there in the road puzzled as to why only one of the lepers turned around to give thanks. In such a vacuum of gratitude one begins to feel a little used, taken for granted, saddened by the loss of opportunity to connect with someone else and puzzled as to how people can be so heartless. Being somewhat of a numbers guy, I track things like Sunday attendance, who participates and who does not, so in early September I was pleased to see our Sunday attendance growing. This is a natural and cyclical phenomena related to the return of children to school, of families from vacation and so forth. But on Sunday September 16 following the tragedies of September 11, I was unprepared for a nearly packed church at all three services. Attendance ...

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