Paul rode solo to Canning Town in East London as surprise preacher for Roger Grassham’s 60th birthday service. If ever you needed an example of a biblical elder and what someone with a ministry and heart for their community should be then Roger is your man. I don’t know many people with the number of skills he has, yet it is his character that stands out. All who know Roger and his family truly benefit from his consistency and walk with the Lord. Many can hold positions, but Roger holds the respect of all who know him well.
According to an old reference signed by Roger Grassham and John Barr I first spoke at the Canning Town fellowship in 1991, went on to be involved in their evangelism programme and then as a recurring preacher right up until I was incapacitated in 2001 after a bad crash. At that time I couldn’t earn, couldn’t get an insurance pay out and was headed for the wall. Friends and folks helped me out, but Canning Town literally saved me losing my home. Sadly I never went back to thank them so the text I always think about when I think of Canning Town is Luke 17:7-19, the story of the nine who never said thanks.
Luke 17:7-19 is a passage of great contrast. First we see the God who expects and then the God who responds. In Luke 17:7-10 we see that when you work for God you may not always get thanked, but you’ll always get looked after. This servant had no rights and no thanks was expected for what he did. It is all about duty and neither the master or the servant thank each other for anything, they just do their duties. In Luke 17:11-19 we find a completely different story and that is where Jesus goes beyond the call of duty. He wasn’t obliged to heal these fellows and they weren’t required to thank him either, but Jesus did heal them all and one of them came back to thank him. If you have ever done something for folk they have never said thanks for and it really bugs you I’ve got good news, it looks like it bugged Jesus too!
Although Jesus commented on the nine and was most likely annoyed at them, he never condemned them, let it eat him away or de-heal them. Most importantly, he never stopped blessing others afterwards. Indeed he went on to die on a cross for you and for me, people who may never have thanked him for anything. We don’t know for sure, but it is most likely the nine were all Jewish and that being the case could go back to their religion. Lepers couldn’t join in at religious services, but now they were healed all nine of them could. The one who was a Samaritan on the other hand would remain an outcast healed or not, but he didn’t care as he knew he could go straight to Jesus. People who don’t fit in religious organisations shouldn’t worry about it, because they can go straight to Jesus. The Jewish denomination did not heal the misfit, neither will any other denomination, but Jesus did. The Nine could go back to their religion, but the One went straight to Jesus!