Monday, September 12, 2016

Lost

Luke 15:1-11
September 11, 2016

So I’ve been watching lots of episodes of the FBI
Files while my husband has been out of town working.
It’s one hour documentaries from about a decade ago,
of real crimes that the FBI solved.
And the worst most heart wrenching episodes
are those where a person has gone missing without a trace,
and their family doesn’t know whether they are alive or dead,
where they are, or anything.

It’s just terrible.
It’s kind of even worse than the people who
have family members who have been found dead.
For the families of the missing, they can’t really even mourn.
They have no closure. They actually pray that something will be found, even if it’s bad news, it’s better than not knowing.
Being lost is terrible, especially for the people who are looking.
Their whole life is focused on the lost person.

Today’s gospel are about things that are lost and found again.

So the Pharisees and scribes are wondering why
Jesus eats with those people. Obviously the wrong people.
The tax collectors and sinners and the like.
Apparently, they are not up to snuff for some.
And in response, Jesus talks to them about things that are lost.
  
The Good Shepherd, Seiger Koder
Jesus asks them:
Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost?”
It’s kind of a crazy question.
The answer is no, I would not do that.

A reasonable shepherd would not leave 99 of
his sheep by themselves,
out in the middle of the wilderness unprotected,
just to go look for one.
You’d end up losing the rest of them.

And Jesus also asks:
If you lost a coin that was worth about a day’s pay,
wouldn’t you spend a whole day of work looking for it,
and then when you found it, throw a party
which probably cost more than the value of the coin you found?
would that be a wise thing to do?
The answer is no, a practical person wouldn’t do that either.

It’s ironic that Jesus is known as the “Good Shepherd”
because Jesus would be a pretty bad shepherd.
It doesn’t make financial sense, the math doesn’t work.
You’re gonna eventually go broke if you do that.

You don’t risk losing 99% of your flock just to find one percent.
You don’t spend the value of two coins trying to find one coin.
We don’t do that.
Most logical shepherds and women would just
chalk the lost up to being lost.
Let the one go for the sake of the 99.

But Jesus point is that God is not very good at business.
God is not good at math.

It just doesn’t make good sense to go looking
for one lost one if you’re talking about sheep and coins
if you’re talking about objects, possessions, things,
the one does not outweigh the many.

But it makes complete sense if you’re talking about family.
If a family member is lost,
your mind and heart is consumed with them.
You go looking for them.
God doesn’t see people, even tax collectors and sinners,
as commodities.
One is not worth more than the other.
God is not figuring out the best Return On Investment
to get from his work.
If that were the case, then God would probably 
just deal with the winners and the best 
and the richest and the highest achievers.

But when it’s family, each one is important.
And the lost take up more of our thought and time.
Sometimes we yearn for the lost one more,
just because they are lost.
That’s what happens when it’s family.

We are God’s family.
We are all precious individual children, we are not just commodities,
or numbers on church rolls, or butts in seats on Sunday,
or money in the offering plate.
We are God’s family
And when we’re separated from God
in whatever way we find ourselves separated from God,
God feels it.
When we’re lost, God is looking.

And God uses people in his church to help find the lost
we help each other get back together with God.
That is what God’s church is.
It’s full of people who are sometimes lost
and sometimes found, depending on the day you catch us on.
But we’re all trying to get each other
reunited with God.

Now sometimes humans end up giving up,
even on people we love, even on our families.
Sometimes there are times we need to let go of people in our lives.
And let go of hope or else we will just get swallowed up in disappointment again and again.
Sometimes we have to think of the 99.
We’re only human.

But we know that God never gives up.
The lost are always on God’s mind and in God’s heart.
And God won’t stop
and when even one is found again,

all heaven rejoices.

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