By Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The Gospel for the Sunday, September 28: Luke 15:1-10
I've spent the last 2 weeks thinking about the lost and how they factor into the Gospels. I've been thinking about our religious practices and other practices. We may come away from those practices believing that we must do something before we are worthy of being found: pray more, exercise more, read the right books, get the right degrees, eat the right foods.
I come back to that lost coin that just sits there. I imagine it under the dresser, even though I know that ancient people didn't have that kind of furniture. I imagine it watching the comings and goings of the family. It wonders if it should make self-improvements. It drifts off to sleep.
I think of that lost sheep. It doesn't make a break for freedom. It simply wanders away. It doesn't have a plan. It doesn't say, "If I can just get free of this herd, I know I could be somebody. I hate this field. I should be in the big city. I'm going to make my way in a different landscape. I'm going to be somebody!"
I also think of the woman who lost the coin or the shepherd who goes after the sheep. They aren't in pursuit because there's something special about the lost coin or sheep. The shepherd doesn't say, "That sheep is one of our biggest givers. Better get it back." The woman doesn't turn the house upside down because she needs to coin to run the food pantry or the Confirmation program.
No, they pursue the lost simply because they are lost.
That's good news for us. Or at least, for people like me. I spend a lot of time wondering if I'm fulfilling my purpose here on earth. I worry that God will be disappointed. I see God as this big guidance counselor who always tells me that I'm not living up to my full potential.
But these parables show me that I'm wrong. God is not a disapproving guidance counselor. God loves me regardless of my skills and talents. God goes to great lengths to find us because God cannot bear the thought of any of us staying lost.
God doesn't say, "Well, that sheep was useless anyway. If it's going to wander away, then it deserves what happens to it." No, God goes after the sheep. God does not say, "Stupid coin. You can just stay wherever you are. I don't care if I never see you again." No, God turns the house upside down.
God will not rest until we all come back to safety. What good news that is!