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Sermon September 11 2022

Pentecost 14 C 2022 Lost and Found

Luke 15:1-10


Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Have you ever lost something?  I have.  The frustration and aggravation felt when we lose something can be very great.  I have lost my keys, my eyeglasses, my wallet, and many other things that I need to get through a normal day.  But guess what?  There is nothing more gratifying than finding something that we have lost.  

Think about it.  As children we all loved to play hide and seek, and if you are like me you were torn between the excitement of finding a good spot to hide and being found.  Why?  Because when you stop and think about it, we wanted to be found. 

Now, I bring this up because, with the exception of the stories of Christ’s birth in Mathew and Luke, and the resurrection accounts, I cannot think of a section of the Bible that is more beloved than the 15th chapter of Luke with the wonderful narratives of lost things.  In this chapter we have the parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost or Prodigal Son.     

I find it interesting that it is only Luke’s Gospel that records for us these wonderful teachings.  Did you know that the 15th chapter of Luke is often described as the “Gospel in Miniature.”  Like John 3:16 which is often called the “Gospel in a Nutshell,” the 15th chapter of Luke connects with each one of us on a personal basis. 

And hear this, Luke places these wonderful stories in a specific context.  He tells us that tax collectors and sinners, the outcasts of the society, were scrambling to get close to Jesus, for they found encouragement in what He said and did. 

But the Pharisees and Scribes, the self-appointed “good people”, were complaining because of Christ’s lack of discrimination.  Not only did Jesus fail to avoid these unacceptable people, but he also sat down with them and ate with them. 

Now, you need to know that in Christ’s day, eating with someone was not like grabbing a quick meal at McDonald’s or dining with a crowd of strangers at Toco Bell. 

No, when you ate with someone or a group of people this implied acceptance, friendship, and companionship.  

You can see why the Pharisees and Scribes were offended when Jesus ate with these people.  In their minds Jesus was unclean because he associated with them. 

And so, in order to explain His annoying behavior to the good and righteous people, Jesus told these parables about lost and found to highlight to them the joy we experience when something that is lost is found. 

One of the things that caught my attention when I read the text this week is that Jesus acts like the behavior in the story is perfectly normal.   “Which one of you,” Jesus asks, “having a hundred sheep and losing one, does not leave the 99 in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost.” 

Its sounds like a shepherd leaving his flock in the wilderness to search for one sheep that went astray is normal operating procedure.  But would the shepherd, when he found the lost sheep, drag the whole herd back to the village for a party?  I bet this action caught the attention of the Pharisees and Scribes. 

And then you have the woman who loses one-tenth of her wealth.  We can understand her panic and her determination to find the coin.  But then when she finds that lost coin, in her joy she invites everyone to a big party which would cost her a lot of money.  Does this make sense.  Probably not.  I bet the Pharisees and Scribes thought that this would be a crazy thing to do. 

It is crazy.  Yet that is precisely what Jesus is trying to say to us.  The kind of outrageous celebration we hear in these parables, coupled with the killing of the fatted calf in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, is a perfect expression of the outlandish joy in God’s heart when one of us returns to the Lord our God. 

For you see these wonderful stories in our Gospel text are not about sinful people or righteous people, they are not even about lost people.  The parables are about God’s love (a prodigal, crazy kind of love) that never gives up on any of us even if we might give up on God. 

As the old familiar hymn states: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!  I once was lost, but now am found; was blind but now I see.” 

In celebration let us therefore sing: “Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.”  LBW page 83 

And let us live in the glow of the Good News we have heard today which invites us to “Rejoice with me, for I have found that which was lost.”  And let us respond “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Christ our Lord.”  Amen. 

Let us pray: Almighty God, you call your church to witness that in Christ we are reconciled to you.  Help us so to proclaim the Good News of your love, that all who hear it may turn to you.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.