Today we have two Gospel stories about being lost and being found. A sheep and a coin are lost. Their owners, a shepherd and a housewife go to great lengths to find them. Scripture speaks about human beings who wander away from God being ‘lost’, and these two stories Jesus told tell us something about what that means. John Newton’s famous hymn Amazing Grace, that we’ve probably sung thousands of times, has a line ‘I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.’
To be lost is to have wandered away and to be helpless to find the way back. A hiker gets lost when he takes a wrong path and does not know how to return to the right one. A child gets lost when she wanders too far from her parents. Scripture speaks of human beings being ‘lost’ when they wander away from God, and from God’s design for humanity.
In the first of these stories, the shepherd leaves ninety-nine sheep alone in the wilderness while he searches for the precious one who is lost, even though he could well have come back to find the other ninety-nine gone! The woman completely disrupts her whole household, and her whole day, just to find the one precious lost coin. At the heart of these two stories, both the shepherd and the housewife, a woman, play the part of God. Scripture frequently depicts God as a woman: as a mother nursing her child, as a mother hen gathering her chicks, and as this woman searching for a lost coin. The God depicted here is passionately concerned about people, including people who have turned away and rejected him.
What we have here today is a story of God’s unstoppable goodness – God’s unstoppable love and compassion for all people, all creatures, and all creation itself. God searches for lost humanity, loves and cares for all people regardless of who they are, until they find their way back to be the people God created them to be, and passionately rejoices over and celebrates each one who is found.
In peace, Mother Lynda
Gospel Reading: Luke 15:1-10