Lost sheep, coins, sons. In the parables of Jesus, things and people get lost and found a lot. In our own practice, a lot gets lost along the way. Everything from socks and keys, to health and love. And some things stay lost. The value of what gets lost in our lives varies incalculably, just as it does in Jesus’ stories. Sometimes we lose money or a job, and that can have serious consequences. But those losses are not even in the same category as losing someone you love to death, or losing your independence as your body fails. As we suffer the great losses in our lives, even when someone or something seems hopelessly and irretrievably lost, Jesus assures us he’s on the other end, retrieving and rescuing. That’s God’s job in a nutshell, according to the Christian tradition: to save what was lost. To redeem a world. To make sure that everything lost gets found.
Which kinds of losses have you faced? Do you trust God to find and restore the rest?
When friends lose their faith, encourage them. When people you know lose heart, support them. When strangers lose their homes in disaster, contribute toward their rescue. When members of your community lose a loved one, mourn with them. And when those around you experience restoration of a loss, celebrate with them.
The Scripture (Luke 15: 4-7) The Voice
Jesus said, “Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbours, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it – there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue”.
It’s human nature to focus on the negative. Whether it’s the pounds we want to lose, the new gizmo we want to buy, or the jackpot we’d like to win, this focus can make us think too much about what we wish we had and too little about what we do have. When my youngest child misplaced a favourite gadget, she could talk about nothing else. “Did you look all around your bedroom?” I asked. “It’s pretty big, you know. Did you look behind your TV?” Even absurdly I suggested, “Maybe it’s underneath your laptop”. I’m not sure if the change in focus made her feel any better, but she did stop complaining. It’s good to know that heaven has the same anxiety about the lost, though, because we’re never among the ninety-nine sheep doing just what they’re supposed to do. We’re always wandering off, in need of a Good Shepherd to bring us home and rejoice over our safety. Jesus assures us that he’ll always come looking.
The lost will be found.
We will search with commitment.
We will put them on the right path.
We will place God’s choices before them.
We will enable forgiveness to be accepted.
We will be bearers of compassion.
We will acknowledge our presence among the lost.
The lost will be found! We will be found!
And we will celebrate! Amen.
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