“They Are Still Lost?”
Rev. Mark M. Vickers
September 18, 2016
15 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 So he told them this parable: 4 “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? 5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
8 “Or what woman having ten silver coins,[a] if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9 When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
We pick up this week following our Lukan text of parables of the Kingdom. We have covered the realm from dining with sinners to giving up all of our earthly possessions. Now we focus on what it means to be “lost” and then “found” in the presence of the kingdom of God. So often we look at this as a text of “being lost,” and not as a text focused on being found.
It is common knowledge, and mostly human intention, that when we discover that something or someone is lost, we set out in search of them. The hunt for the find is the focus on which we tend to gravitate. We are people who desire the pleasure to make the find! To retrieve the lost, to be the one who makes the find gives us joy and isn’t that the way in which God wants us to be? To be joyful when one who is lost is found!! Yet we have to be confident that the finding of the lost is not a self made “victory!” One commentator says it this way, “So to Jesus, when people get lost, it’s up to the community, not simply the lost individuals to go and help them find their way home.” Finding the lost is a community event, not a solo expedition!!
Hence, that is the desire that God through Christ wants us to have as we seek to find those who are lost.
But how do we react when we go quote searching for the “lost?” Are we like the stealth recovery team? Who, when they find the lost, scoop them up and take them to be treated and allow them to recover? Or do we, as Christians seek to find the lost and welcome them to a place of hope, recovery, and new life? G. Penny Nixon, a UCC pastor puts it in these very prophetic words, “Saving is about power, whereas welcoming is about intimacy. Saving is primarily focused on the individual, whereas welcoming is focused on the community.”
So maybe, just maybe, the desire that Jesus has for us is to welcome those who are lost and displaced and give them a place to feel at home and safe and secure in a place where they are loved and cared for and offered to be part of a family.
With this happening then the true message of the Gospel comes to light this morning, that we should rejoice and be happy! Jesus did it in the parable of the lost sheep when he illustrates the shepherd lifting the sheep upon his shoulders and parading around to show what had been accomplished. He was welcoming the lost sheep back into the flock and back into the family from which it came. How great is it for us to welcome back a member of God’s community who has been lost?
I invite you over the next year, to be a community that welcomes (not saves) those who are lost, seeking, displaced, and rejoice as a community that has worked to build the Kingdom of God!
Therefore, let us come to the Table of our Lord and be nourished that we will have strength for this journey and sustenance to offer those whom we welcome.
AMEN and AMEN