Toward the end of Chapter 2 of One Thousand Gifts, author Ann Voskamp likens the grace, thanksgiving and joy of eucharisteo to a constellation in the night sky. Reaching for those stars is so very hard. Is there, Ann asks, an easier way to a fulfilling life?
The author finds her answer in a New Testament account she knows very well, dating back to her childhood- or so she thinks: Jesus healing the 10 lepers (Luke 17:11-19). Although much of Luke’s account is familiar, one verse grabs Ann’s attention: “Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well (v. 19). An alternate way to translate the last part of that verse is “your faith has saved you”. The Greek word for “saved” is sozo– meaning true wellness, complete wholeness. Perhaps the leper who returned to give thanks received not only a physical healing, but also salvation. Salvation, the author notes, must be intimately be related to giving thanks.
Ann cites Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann, who writes the following words in his book For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy:
“If the church is in Christ, its initial act is always an act of thanksgiving, of returning the world to God.”