A God Who Searches For Us - Even If

Preacher: 
Rev. Katherine G. Dougherty
Sermon Text: 

Proper 19 – Year C

September 15, 2019

Exodus 32:7-14, Psalm 51:1-11, 1Timothy 1:12-17, Luke 15:1-10

A God Who Searches for Us – Even If

 

 

         When you were little or when your children were little do you remember Story Time?  If you’re currently a child – you’re so lucky!  Story Time ROCKS!  Story time in school – story time at the library – story time at home before bed.  There is something magical about curling up and hearing a story. 

         Well welcome to Story Time – Jesus-style.  Jesus was famous for his story telling.  For the next several weeks our Gospel readings will share with us a variety of Jesus’ stories, which we call parables.  Parables are a funny thing – sometimes they are clear as a bell and other times the meaning is completely lost on the hearers.  The same parable can be interpreted a variety of ways and from what we can tell – they aren’t meant to be morals or fables.  One commonality parables do have is their purpose seems to be to grab or surprise the hearer by its vividness or strangeness making the listener wonder what the story means.         

         Today’s two little parables are common ones – the lost sheep and the lost coin.  Though they are brief – they can leave a person with a lot of questions.  What I propose today is we narrow our lens and focus on one aspect of them – the searcher.  What can our two searchers – the shepherd and the sweeping woman – teach us about God and about being in relationship with God? 

         I would guess the many of us know something about being lost. Whether it was intentionally or unintentionally, through our own fault or just circumstances in life, we’ve felt lost on some level.  Many of us could name pieces of our life that have been lost over the years. 

         We get lost in our fears and grief, our worries and anxieties, in anger and prejudice, in our need for perfection and approval.  It’s common for people to get lost. We get lost when the circumstances of life overwhelm us.  Sometimes we are lost in our sin and guilt, and other times we are lost in the disappointments and regrets of life.  To be lost is to be without a sense of grounding – of connectedness. In that lost feeling, we often live fragmented lives, and life may feel like a spiritual vertigo. 

         But God continues to reach out to us – possibly in ways we don’t even realize.  The shepherd searches for its sheep…the woman for her lost coin. God has an incredible knack of meeting us where we are and reaching out to us in ways that we can handle.   That is called grace.   And though Jesus teaches us that we must turn back to God – repent for our sins, God’s grace doesn’t follow repentance – God’s grace makes repentance possible. 

         See, God loves us even if – even if we’re wayward lambs who have wandered into danger; even if we’re coins lying under a dusty dresser; even if we have utterly lost our way and are focusing on earthly things that are sure to make our lives better; even if we’ve turned our attention away from our faith and given our time to false Gods.  What Jesus is saying to us through these parables is that we don’t need to clean up our lives or get it all together before reaching out to God.  God seeks us out when we lose our way and loves us as we are. 

         “Rejoice with me for I have found my sheep that was lost…rejoice with me.”  Those are the words Jesus used after the shepherd returned with his lost lamb.  Those are the words Jesus used after the woman found her coin.  Have you ever noticed how we stress over something lost – have you ever misplaced your keys or cell phone.  “Where is that darn thing!” are often our words.  “Where on earth did I put them,” we exclaim as we frantically search for our reading glasses which are probably sitting on top of our heads. 

         But what comes next is interesting to me…once we’ve found the missing item, what do we say next?  “Man, I can’t believe I left them there.” or “How on earth didn’t I realize they were on my head – I am seriously losing it.”  We are critical of ourselves, but with God there is no shame.  God isn’t looking for us to berate ourselves.  God doesn’t want us to hang our heads and feel shameful when we stumble or stray.  God rejoices when we turn our attention back to being in relationship with God.  God celebrates when we reach back out.  God embraces us and dances with us!

         So as we head out into the world this week, let us rejoice in God’s love for us.  Let that grace and love wash over us – renew us – and if we find ourselves under a dusty dresser or lost in the weeds, know that God lovingly searches for each and everyone one of us…and may we…in turn…reach back out to God.  Amen+----

Endnotes

1. The Rev. Michael K. Marsh, Unique, Priceless, and Irreplaceable – Everyone Belongs, 2010.

2. Book of Common Prayer, p. 304,
3. SALT, Rejoice with Me: Salt’s Lectionary Commentary for Fourteenth Week After Pentecost, https://www.saltproject.org/progressive-christian-blog/2019/9/10/rejoice...

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