Text: Psalm 14: 1; Luke 15: 4-5, 8-9
The TV series “Lost” had many of us blocking out time to view each episode that ambled on from one non-conclusion to another, all the way to the end in what was meant to be a modern parable of losing and being lost.
Our own lives may become personal experiences in episodes that range from being trivial to crucial:
-from losing a set of keys to losing a house and home,
-from losing a credit card to losing an entire life savings,
-from losing our sense of security on September 11, 2001 to
losing our sense of values in the lead up days to our National election.
Losing and being lost is especially real to some of today’s youth,
losing out in passing grades,
losing out in having friends,
losing out in having a safe home and loving family,
a “losing” that can lead to alcoholism and drugs in an attempt to numb the pain of being lost only to risk losing life itself.
The newest tragedy of being lost in the world of drugs is a synthetic form of marijuana called K2 with the street name Spice” that is not detected in drug testing, but is known by rambling, senseless conversations and wide swings in behavior that can eventually turn the brain into an irreversible vegetable state.
We are a society that is showing the signs of being lost personally, politically, and religiously;
lost to the point of despairing that there is any end to our sense of being lost,
that it is a hope beyond belief.
Today’s Gospel stories are waiting to speak to us as well as those who were the first to hear about a lost sheep and a lost coin.
The Jewish listeners knew Jesus was using a story to remind them of the words of the prophet Jeremiah who pictured God as the Shepherd
watching over the flock of people called Israel,
the Shepherding God Who neither slumbers nor sleeps,
the Creator God Who values every sheep-like human
with the tenacity that will not abandon a single one
as being incorrigible, defective, expendable – when there 99 others.
That one which has gone astray is cradled and carried home, rejoicing with the infectious joy that invites all creation to celebrate, beginning with those first-century Jewish listeners...
But the only ones to rejoice were those who saw themselves as being in need of being found by a loving, cradling God. The religious leaders were insulted by Jesus’ inference that they too were the lost who were in need of finding and being found by God.
Those who scoffed at that thought, were even more offended when Jesus said,
“Or what woman having ten silver coins,*
if she loses one of them,
does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?” and when she does she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.”
A Mothering God desperate to find every coin-like person to the last cent of the count;
not just the Jewish sheep of the fold of God’s flock called Israel,
but every person created by God to bear the imprint of God’s likeness,
each coin-like soul stamped with the imprint: “Imago Dei” –
made to bear God’s likeness and to live in harmony with and assume responsibility for all that
God has made.
Hear each story carrying the echo of the Servant Jesus kneeling to wash feet and saying,
“I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” -
to serve one another as God in Christ modeled service.
And then on the way to His cross, saying,
“Love one another as I have loved you.”
Serve and love to the last sheep-like, coin-like person!
Serving, loving no matter how much a parent’s heart is broken by a straying son or daughter;
serving, loving like a counselor who never gives up trying to bring an addict back from alcohol or drugs,
serving, loving like the volunteers we remember today,
who 15 years ago rummaged through tangled, twisted steel and air thick with clouds of particles of powdered concrete, searching for signs of life and bodies they could pull from mountains of rubble.
Serving, loving, knowing and believing, especially when crises push hope beyond belief in a shepherding God Who is determined to find us and gives us the strength and the will to be God’s shepherding people.
In 1845 when our country was about to go from being at war with Mexico to being at war with one another, James Russell Lowe wrote a poem which Bill Kassel posted in a Memorial Day column three years ago because he believed it was what our nation needed to read “in the light of current conditions”: (and we might add, “then and now”)
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong; Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown, Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.
Today, when Ground Zero in New York City, the charred field in Shanksville, PA, and the gaping hole in the Pentagon’s wall are haunting memories, and a personal crisis might have you or a loved one feeling like a sheep or a coin that is lost,
the Psalm of the Day shouts out the claim:
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
The shepherd-poet saw the star-studded sky as proof which Dr. Platco amplifies as an astronomer who detects the evidence that has us rejoicing in the heavens that that are telling the glory of God,
the song of the universe terrorists’ attacks could not silence on 9/11 fifteen years ago.
The song that’s meant to be sung into every soul, for each is the handiwork of a God Who is like a shepherd retrieving a lost lamb or a woman finding a lost coin, the evidence that silences the claim,
“There is no God!” AMEN.