Weekly e-Devotion: Sept 13 Edition

Luke 15:1-10

Gospel Lesson for Sunday Sept 15 2019

15Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ 3 So he told them this parable: 4Which 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? 5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And 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.’ 7Just 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. 8 ‘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? 9When 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.’ 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

"I once was lost"

   When I was a kid, the lost-and-found department at our grade school consisted of a cardboard box, usually filled with one lonely mitten, a school book, a lunch box or a winter scarf (I didn’t live in Phoenix at the time!). God’s lost and found (or perhaps better named God’s “sin and grace” department) was created, as Paul wrote in Philippians 1:4, “before the foundation of the world.” Thinking about these “lost and found” parables of Jesus, I remembered a petition in the Book of Common Prayer that says,

“I ask your prayers for all who seek God, or a deeper knowledge of him.
Pray that they may find and be found by him.”

    In this week’s gospel, Jesus has once again found himself surrounded by those he came to save, including a crowd of righteous judgers who evaluate his every action. The action that particularly galls these folks is his fellowship with sinners, as though—other than Jesus— there were any non-sinners in the vicinity! I understand why Jesus would prefer the company of these enthusiastic outsiders to that uptight, rules-bound bunch of sourpusses. I am guessing that this crowd of “tax collectors and sinners” understood in a deep and present way that they were lost, while the “scribes and Pharisees” had forgotten or repressed that feeling, navigating their days with only a sense of entitlement and arrogant orthodoxy. 
    In strictly financial terms, these parables make little sense. One sheep is worth 99% less than the flock abandoned to the wilderness and one coin is only one-tenth of the total value of this woman’s savings. Clearly the value implicit in these stories transcends monetary concerns. These are tales of finding lost souls, each one valued as highly as the very life and death of Jesus Christ! They are also stories of the journey and the work we each must undertake, away from our “comfort zones,” into the places we would rather not traverse to seek people who, humanly speaking, we might rather not find!
   
The story of a lost sheep and the story of a lost coin are stories of God going momentarily insane in his efforts to find each one of us. The shepherd is a bit loony risking his 99 sheep over just one more. The woman seems a bit OCD in her efforts to scour her house for one lousy coin. But here’s the thing. Any parent recognizes this relentless earnestness on their child’s behalf. If there is any kind of “lostness” with your child, whether from drugs, or bullying, or just garden-variety childhood fears and insecurities, you will leave no stone unturned in efforts to find and save and heal your child whom you love with that bottomless parental love that sometimes defies good sense! (Or maybe, it actually, defines good sense.)
   
God has been looking for us ever since Eden. Sometimes, even after we’ve been found, we can feel like we’ve lost our way again. But God has found us and will never let us go. He keeps us in the safest place there is: his heart (Colossians 3:3). “I once was lost, but now am found.” May we never forget what that felt like when it happened to us! And, by the way, God needs you to join his search and rescue party. All his kids haven’t been found yet.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at dhoeger@allsaintsphoenix.org or 602.866.9191.

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website.


PRAYER FOR THE WEEK

 Heavenly Father, fill us with your power and presence, and make us associates of those who have no power. Amen.


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BIBLE READINGS

Sept 15
14h Sunday after Pentecost
Click HERE to read
Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28
Psalm 14
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Luke 15:1-10 *

Sept 22
15th Sunday after Pentecost
Click HERE to read
Amos 8:4-7

Psalm 113
1 Timothy 2:1-7
Luke 16:1-13

* eDevotion Bible text(s)

 


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