Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sermon for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

Jesus and the Lost Sheep
Glenn Bautista

There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents

Again, we enter into a story where it seems that the world is being turned upside down.
A world where it is better to find one that is lost, at the risk of losing everything else.

The key to both these parables is the word lost.
In both, the protagonist, the shepherd or the woman,
rejoices because they have found something that has been lost.
The rejoicing comes from finding.
The rejoicing comes from what has been lost.

If we think about a time we have lost something,
we all know the joy that comes from finding it.
Think of the time you lost your keys.
The stress in the time you couldn’t find them.

Or when you couldn’t find the spice in your kitchen for the stew you were cooking.
Upon finding it, remember the joy when you smelt the stew as it was supposed to smell.

Think to the time when you felt like you were losing your grip on a situation,
when maybe your position at work was threatened.

Or maybe when your status was changing.
Maybe think about how you may have lashed out when you felt you were losing control.

Or maybe, think about when you felt you had lost your child.
When you knew your child was no longer yours,
but rather, they were their own person who would make their own decisions.

Or maybe for some of you, remember when you felt like you were losing your mind,
or when you lost your will to go on living.
Remember when you felt like you were lost from everything.
Maybe you felt like you had lost God,
that Jesus the great shepherd wasn’t there to pick you up and carry you on his shoulders.
Maybe you lost your faith at some time.

Losing something is never fun.
We have all experienced loss of someone or something.
We all also know the joy of finding something.

In these two parables, we hear about losing and finding.
A lost sheep, and a lost coin.
In both parables, the person goes to extreme lengths to find what was lost.
In both parables, the person goes to extreme lengths in their celebration.

If we think about the economics of the parables, they seem to be very extreme.
Jesus recognises that as such by stating each parable as a question:

Which one of you..’ and ‘Or what woman…’

Jesus invites us into the stories.
He asks us whether our behaviour and reactions would be the same.

Would they?

By asking a question, he opens up the possibility of a negative answer.
Maybe that is what he actually expects.
Maybe that is the point.

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? 

That is economic madness.
The 99 could then become lost.
It doesn’t make sense.

‘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? 

This one makes a bit more economic sense.
No one likes losing money, and most people will search for money they have lost.

But the rejoicing that takes place makes very little sense.

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.” 

So she gets the village together to have a party to celebrate the lost coin.
A party that would cost more than the coin. Again no economic sense.

No worldly economic sense.

But in these parables we are not talking about worldly economics.
We are talking about God’s economics.
That is an economic system that that doesn’t count,
doesn’t use ratios or percentages.
It is an economy that isn’t fair.

It isn’t fair. It seems to go against all we hold dear, that there is a fair go for everyone.

But this is God’s economy.
He doesn’t work in our ways of understanding economy.
He doesn’t work with what we think is fair.

God and the angels rejoice over finding one who was lost.

And it is the lost or losing things that is the key.

It is those who are not with us.
It is those who have lost their faith, who have lost their way,
who have lost their hope, that God rejoices over finding.

That is why there is such extreme rejoicing by the shepherd and the woman.
They found something that was lost to them.
Someone could have given the shepherd another sheep, or the woman another coin.
But that wouldn’t work.
In our economic system, it would, but in God’s it doesn’t.
It is the lost sheep, the lost coin being found that cause rejoicing,
not the balancing of the books.
It is that particular sheep and that particular coin.

It is the finding what was lost that causes rejoicing.

There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents

And it is to those that we are called to be with.

We are called to be with those who feel lost from God.
We are called to be with them, to let them know of God’s love for them.
We are called to rejoice with them when they find God’ love for them.

Then, we can rejoice with the angels in the presence of God over the finding of one who has been lost.

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