Most of us have felt the sting of ingratitude, but few have felt it as painfully as Ed Spencer. He was a divinity student at Garret Theological Seminary, Illinois. On 8 September, 1860, Spencer was drawn into a situation that changed the direction of his life. That night he was awakened by the shouting of fellow Seminary students, who reported that there was a shipwreck directly off shore from Winnetka. A cruise ship had collided with a lumber freighter and was sinking.
Ed Spencer jumped out of bed, dressed in a hurry, and ran three miles to Winnetka. It was a stormy night and the lake was tossing vigorously. Few would-be rescuer’s were willing to brave the turbulent waters and the dangerous undertows. Ed was a strong swimmer, from his childhood days of swimming the Mississippi near his home in Rock Island. He jumped right in and proceed to pull people to shore one after the other. He had to fight huge waves and painfully buffeting from pieces of debris. By the light of dawn he had personally rescued fifteen survivors. As he was warming himself by the fire with a cup of coffee, a cry came that there were two more survivors clinging to flotsam for dear life. Despite his sheer exhaustion, he jumped in and barely made it to the hunk of shipwreck. He managed to draw them with his last ounces of strength, after, he collapsed on the beach. That night, 287 people lost their lives but of
98 who were saved, Spencer personally rescued 17.
Ed Spencer never got back to Seminary. He spent the rest of his days as an invalid in California. As an old man, he was interviewed by a Los Angeles newspaper and asked what he recalled in particular about the rescue. Spencer replied, “Only this; of the seventeen people I saved, not one of them ever thanked me.”
At least Jesus did better than that in today’s gospel reading; Luke 17:11-19. One came back to Jesus and gave gratitude for restoring him back to normal life and complete health. “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the other nine?” Are we good to show our gratitude when others do great works for our community, nation, and in the church? Give glory and thanks to Jesus Christ, for his healing and saving grace.
Rev Samata Elia