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The Sweet Fragrance of Thanksgiving

From the November 2010 issue of The Christian Science Journal

The English Word, attar, is from a persian root, which means "fragrance," and refers to the oil extracted from flowers, especially rose petals, to make perfume. The Bulgarian attar of roses is the finest in the world, cultivated in the Valley of Roses in the Balkan Mountains. The harvesting or distilling must not occur in the bright sunlight of the day, but in the darkest hours of the night. Scientific tests have shown that during this dark interval the blossoms give their sweetest scent. More than 40 percent of the aroma disappears in the daylight.  Encyclopedia of 7700 lllustrations, lllustration No. 6908. Is this like gratitude in our lives — more readily present in our darkest hours and sometimes lax during the sunshine periods?

Gratitude is expressed by giving thanks, which is the common translation in the King James Version of the Bible for the Greek root of gratitude, charis, meaning to rejoice. Charis is rendered in most contemporary translations as gratitude, and is also the root for grace: "A favor done without expectation of return; the absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men finding its only motive in the bounty and benevolence of the Giver."  The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (electronic edition).

One of the most touching examples of gratitude during Christ Jesus' ministry was the healing of ten lepers.  See Luke 17:11-19 . To fully appreciate its significance, it's helpful to go back to the original command in the Mosaic Law, where there was an elaborate ritual for a leper to report to the priest to be sure a skin disease had been healed.  See Leviticus, Chaps. 13-14 . This ritual symbolized being ceremoniously clean or pure. It's ironic that such an elaborate ritual was established since the healing of leprosy was in fact so rare. Moses and Miriam were the only Hebrews mentioned having been healed of leprosy and the third was a non-Hebrew, Naaman the Syrian.  See Exodus 4:6, 7 ; Numbers 12:10-15; and Second Kings 5:1-14. For over 1,000 years, the priests may have wondered why the Levitical law was written. Jesus' command for the lepers to show themselves to the priest was nothing less than the announcement of the Messiah's arrival! The gratitude of the leper who returned to give thanks was tied to his recognition of Jesus as the Messiah or Christ. Our continuing recognition of the presence and power of Christ is at the heart of our gratitude. And the lepers obedience in going to the priest preceded the healing: "And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed."

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