the one about our searching God...
September 12, 2016, 8:00 AM

Sermon from September 11, 2016

Text: Luke 15: 1-10

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, I know I’ve mentioned before that I don’t particularly agree at times with the titles that certain parts of our scriptures have been given; particularly when it comes to Jesus’ parables. This morning we again read two parables – that are incredibly well known – and yet, as much as they technically are titled correctly, their titles still don’t convey the fullness of what Jesus is proclaiming.

We have these two wonderful parables – the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the lost coin. Both stories are incredibly well known, but again because of how they are titled it tends to limit how we read and interpret what Jesus is telling us.

In fact, if I had the authority and power I’d probably name these two parables something like, “The parables of the stuff God does that we the people would think was pretty stupid and foolish – and thank God for that.”

Have you ever tried to read these parables with fresh eyes before? Seriously.

In the first parable Jesus tells us about a shepherd with 100 sheep and one of them goes missing. He leaves the 99 in the wilderness and goes in search of that lost one. He finds the one and gathers his community together to celebrate what he has found.

In the second parable, a woman has ten coins and she loses one. Together, her 10 coins aren’t enough to pay for anything, but she still searches adamantly for that one lost coin. And when she does find it, she gathers her community together to celebrate what she has found.

Within these two parables Jesus says that ‘this’ is where heaven, the angels, and God find great joy. Essentially, these stories that Jesus tells us convey just what God is like.

To be frank and curt – God’s kind of dumb, right?

No one, NO ONE, does what Jesus says this shepherd did. You have 100 sheep, you’re out in the wilderness, and one wanders off. Well, I have 99 sheep now. Time to get the rest home before another one goes missing. And if you do go in search of that one lost sheep, you certainly don’t leave the other 99 out in the wilderness. You take precaution and make sure the vast majority are protected first.

Or, I know I had ten pennies around here, but I only can find nine right now. Oh, well it’s just a penny. It’s not worth the time and effort to go find it.

Folks, I’ve lost countless discs playing disc golf in my life. Way more than I care to admit and they are worth a little more than a few coins. But, I’ve got a rule – if I can’t find it in ten minutes, well at least I still got a bag full of other ones. I can always replace that lost one.

That is what amazes and humbles me most about these two stories. Jesus tells us what kind of God our God actually is.

God goes to lengths that none of us would go in our search for the lost.

When we lose something we ‘own’ it hurts and stinks, but we move on. We calculate what it would take in time and effort to find it against the ‘value’ of that item. More times than not, the value just isn’t worth it. So, we just let it go and move on.

Yet, our God – the God who has saved us in faith. The God who has claimed us in love. The God who has washed and cleansed us in baptism. The God who has given us new life in Jesus’ victory over sin and death. The God who guides us with the breath and wind of the Holy Spirit. That God – our God – relentlessly and feverishly searches us out as if we were the most prized and worthy jewel. Searches us out as if we were the only one that God cared for. God searches us out and brings us home.

Think about that for moment. Let it sink in.

You are valued so much by God – you are so worthy to God – that God drops everything to search, to find, and to bring you home.

Wow. God goes to more length than anyone ever would think to. God does that? Yep, that’s what God does.

So, if I think a little bit more on my new potential title for this group of parables, it would probably be – The Parable about our God who searches.

Because God does search, God searches us out tirelessly and relentlessly.

God searches us out when we are the ones who wander off.

We get caught up in a life counter to what we hear proclaimed by our Lord. We get caught up in a world of sin, drugs, and addiction. We get caught up in those things that turn us away from God. We get caught up in a life of apathy and indifference – towards the church, towards others, or towards life.

We get caught up in a life where we wander from idol to idol. Distracted by every shiny object and trinket the world produces to ‘make’ us better in the eyes of others.

We wander. We go off.

God searches, props us up on the shoulders of our Lord, and brings us home in celebration and joy.

God does that. God does that through the people that have been placed in our lives. The ones we know so well, and even the ones we meet in a glimpse of a moment. God continues to search for us even when we’ve given up on searching for God. Nothing – not one thing – is outside God’s realm, ability, and desire to search for you.

To tell you, to make known to you, how loved, worthy, and valued you are.

God does that. God is doing that.

Then there is the greater context of what happens in that second parable with the woman and the lost coin. If the woman is an allegory for God – does that mean God sometimes – sometimes – loses us? Perhaps – I don’t know. I’m still figuring that out as well.

But, that’s not the point of the parable. The point of what Jesus is telling the crowd and telling us is that God continues to search for us – relentlessly – even when others wouldn’t see the value in the time and effort. The woman loses a coin that could be considered by others to be ‘literally worthless.’ She tears up her house to find that one coin. Why? Because it is hers.

God searches tirelessly to find us. To celebrate us with the gathered community in heaven. Jesus is telling us that God literally thinks we are worth it.

The world might tell you that you aren’t. Maybe because of the job you have. You might not earn enough to be noticed. You come from ‘that’ part of town. You don’t have the looks, the personality, the clothes, the ‘whatever’ for others to think you’re worth anything.

Yet to God – you are.

You – we – are so worthy that God has come to us in Christ our Lord. God has come to be with us and has called us to live into that worth, to know that others too are worthy as well.

Worthy to be sought after, to be celebrated, to be loved fully and completely.

We are so worthy that God bathes us in the waters of baptism and feeds us at the table. We are washed, welcomed, fed, and sent to proclaim that to the world.

In the knowledge and faith of our worth before God – something that we don’t deserve, but that God grants to us – we remember that others are valued and worthy to God as well. We get to live a life knowing that we are worthy, that God searches, calls, and finds us. We get to live a life knowing that those around us are worthy as well.

We know that we are loved and cared for so that we don’t have to seek veiled comfort in those things that pull us away. We don’t have to find empty solace in what the world says will make us ‘better’ in the eyes and minds of those around us. We proclaim and worship a God who already has found value in us, and now we get to live a life living out that thankfulness for God and for others.

We proclaim this God who searches. Who searches – even and especially – because others have given up and think it’s silly and foolish.

God does that? That’s what God does. Amen.

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