Sermon for Longview 19 September 2013
This is very well-known parable,- we can see a picture of a little lost lamb, bleating in the wilderness, away from the rest of the flock. Jesus, the shepherd, leaves the others all together – they like being together, because sheep follow a leader and huddle up together for safety. Then the shepherd goes away, in search of the lost one.
What can that mean for people? Maybe the flock huddled together are those already in the church, already knowing Jesus, who can keep going under their own steam for a bit, And who is the lost one? We all know of people called lost sheep, or maybe even black sheep – the one who is different, who doesn’t want to listen, who goes about things their own way. Maybe some of you have been that lost sheep? Or maybe you have a lost sheep or three in your family, whom you pray for? There are certainly several in my family. This parable is telling us that Jesus cares about the lost ones, the ones that don’t conform to the churchy way of living. Jesus wants all of them, and all of us.
We need not feel lost either, knowing that even if we do go astray – and who hasn’t at some point – that Jesus is deliberately searching for us, wanting us desperately, that the group, the kingdom of heaven, is not complete until we are found, until we are joined into it.
Sometimes as Christians it can be tempting to look sideways at the lost ones, and think – really? Do they need to be here? But remember, it is not for us to judge. The drug addict, the delinquent, the gay couple – God loves all of these people, just the same way God loves us, in our brokenness.
How about the lost coin? I can remember being so broke that before I could buy any food I had to find every single copper coin from down the side of the couch, and in all the pockets and bags I could find. I know what it feels like to be five cents short when you need to use money.
In the second parable Jesus tells us the same parable as the lost sheep, but from the other perspective. In the first story, we can identify with the sheep. But honestly, can you really identify with a lost coin? Can we imagine what it is feeling as it rolls under the furniture? No, that would be ridiculous. But we can identify with the feeling of loss and of panic that comes when we discover that we don’t have enough resources for what we need. This is where God is right with us too. This story tells us that Jesus understands what it feels like to lose something precious. And as we remember that feeling of desperation, identifying with the woman who puts on the light and sweeps under all the furniture, we can identify with God, God who desperately wants us. Yes, we are the lost coin, and if we can see into the heart of God through this parable we can see how precious each and every one of us is to God.
No matter what our condition, who you are, where you are, no matter if it seems that the rest of the world has forgotten you and no one comes to see you any more, God has not forgotten, and God cares desperately about you, and wants you to share in the kingdom of heaven.