St Luke 15: 1 – 10
Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he told them this parable: ‘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 until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance. ‘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? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.” Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’
As I read these parables, I first wondered what is ‘lost’ within me, in my relationships, in my life. Having celebrated a milestone birthday, I have reflected on parts of me lost over the years. I see there are also dreams which have been lost along the way. Voices were silenced; gifts ignored. Have I put aside dreams to care for my family? Have I ignored a desire that was a strong focus at a different point in my life? Have I silenced God’s voice calling me in a different direction or simply ignored one of my ‘giftings’ because it isn’t convenient to exercise it?
In addition to the loss of parts of myself, I have experienced losses related to the deaths of family and friends. I have grieved the end of relationships and the loss of hopes for those relationships. I have grieved the ways life has changed—sometimes in good ways which still brought change and a feeling of loss.
Of course, the pandemic has brought its own losses – through deaths and lockdowns. We have missed experiences and physical connections. As a result of our pandemic experiences, we may feel lost.
These parables remind us that loss is part of life. As we read these parables, we are reminded that our losses are not lost to God. The harried housekeeper keeps looking until she finds the coin. The selfless shepherd does not stop until his shaggy sheep is found. God is pursuing us in our lostness. No one, no experience is lost to God. Being found brings God joy—we hear the joyful celebration in the invitation to join the celebration. When we feel loss or lost, we can relax into the loving, persistent presence of God. And there, we too find joy.
Help us relax into being found.
Help us join you to look for parts of ourselves we have lost.
Help us join you in finding those who are lost.
May we look.
May we find.
May we love and celebrate together.