Expanding the Family with Thanks

by Doug Rehberg

“Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’” Luke 17:15-18
Throughout His three-year ministry, Jesus asks 60% more questions than He is asked (307 to 183 to be exact). And here Luke gives us three of them in rapid succession. The reason? Jesus is incredulous! He’s on His way to Jerusalem. He’s headed to the cross. And on His way He hears ten lepers shouting, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Luke tells us that when Jesus sees them He says to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they go they are healed. But one of them, before he makes it to the priests, turns back to thank Jesus. And that one is a Samaritan.
To the Jews the Samaritans were the consummate outsiders. No Jew was permitted to speak to a Samaritan. Marriage between Jews and Samaritans was strictly forbidden. The Jews had antipathy for the Samaritans, as seen in the disciples’ reaction to the Samaritan rebuff in Luke 9:54. But have you ever noticed the prominence Jesus gives to the Samaritans? Whether it’s the woman at the well (John 4), the Good Samaritan (Luke 10), the one returning leper (Luke 17), or the Jews’ accusation in John 8:48, Jesus elevates the position of the Samaritans as those worthy of particular note.
I have thought about all of this a lot lately in the wake of Dean Hood’s death. On April 16, 27-year-old Dean Michael Hood was killed by a drunk driver in Austin, Texas. Now Dean was no stranger to Hebron. During his teenage years, Dean and his twin brother, David, were a part of “the Rock” -  Hebron’s youth ministry. Dean and David were fixtures at Penn Hills events throughout their high school years. They are the sons of J.C. and Mindy Hood, and the nephew of Carole Hood of our congregation.
A week after Dean’s death we were given the distinct honor and privilege of partnering with Trenz Funeral Home in holding a six-hour visitation for family and friends in the Barclay Building. On Monday, April 12, nearly 800 people visited the Barclay Building to pay their respects. The next day, several hundred family and friends gathered in the sanctuary for a memorial service honoring the life of Dean Hood and remembering the promises of the Gospel.
But it’s not what Hebron was able to do for the Hoods that has captured my attention in the last three weeks—it was a blessing for all of us who were able to serve them in some way. What has captured my attention is what J.C. and Mindy want to do for us. I have rarely seen a greater outpouring of appreciation and gratitude than what they have shown. Here they are, virtual outsiders to the life and ministry of Hebron Church, and yet their generosity and desire to say, “Thank You” is overwhelming.
In addition to many expressions of thankfulness J.C. and Mindy have already shown, on Sunday, June 3rd, they will play a major role in our Patio Dedication event by supplying and staffing a food truck right off the Fellowship Hall and next to the new Youth Patio. For several years J.C. and Mindy have partnered with  Pittsburgh Smokehouse Custom Bar-B-Que to provide award-winning food at food festivals across Western Pennsylvania. Their desire is to say, “Thank You” by feeding us some of their culinary delights. Our desire is to get to know them better and express our deepest love and appreciation. What a joy it is to see the Lord expand His family! Through all of the pain and suffering, and an event that none of us could ever have imagined, Jesus is growing His family and we all are a part of it.

Make sure you mark Sunday, June 3, on your calendar. See you at the food truck!