“Lost and Found”

Pentecost 17

September 11, 2016


Text:  Luke 15:1-10


    To begin today, let’s do something a little different.  Turn to someone near you and share with them either a time you were lost or when you had lost something, and also share how you felt.  Go!

(Allow about 2 minutes for people to do this)

(Then invite people to share stories with the whole congregation)

    That word “lost” carries some interesting connotations.  Many of us are familiar with the old joke that real men never admit they are lost and never ask for directions.

    In some Christian circles, “lost” is used as a term to describe those who do not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.  Others find using the term that way judgmental, believing those who use the word that way presume to know more about someone else’s relationship with God than they really know, or finding the term sometimes gets used to describe people who may have a saving relationship with God but haven’t had the same experience of God as the person calling them “lost”.

    However, we cannot deny that there are people who are “lost”.  There are people who lack meaning and purpose in their life.  There are people who lack the assurance that God loves them or that they are even worth loving.  There are people who feel empty inside.  There are people who have gotten on a bad path in life but feel helpless to get off of it.  All of these, in some way, are “lost”.

    Often we use the term “lost” to describe other people.  But what about ourselves?  Are there times when we find ourselves lost?  I believe there are.  Look for a moment once more at the Opening Prayer in our bulletin today.  In the first part of that prayer, a number of words are used to describe people who are lost:  uncertain, alone, confused, frightened, arrogant, disrespectful, anxious, fearful.  There are certainly times when some of those words describe me.  I would venture there are times when the same is true of you.  Sometimes we are the ones who are lost.

    We are lost when we cease to listen to God’s voice, and follow our own way.  In so doing, we drift off the path God intends for us.

    We are lost when life becomes so overwhelming that we lose our moorings and feel like we are adrift in a boat with no sail, anchor, oars, or rudder.

    We are lost when we lose our sense of meaning and purpose in life.

    A few minutes ago we shared stories of being lost or losing something.  A lot of our stories ended with the lost being found.  Turn to someone near you again, and this time share what it feels like to be “found”.  Go!

(Allow about 2 minutes for people to do this)

(Then invite people to share stories with the whole congregation)

    “Celebrate with me because I have found what I lost!”  Even as we rejoice when the lost is found, Jesus declared that there is more rejoicing in heaven when one lost soul is found and restored to God than over many who are already righteous.

Jesus came to seek and to save that which is lost.  He came to find people who are lost and help them find their true selves as children of the living God.   That is why he welcomed sinners and ate with them, even though the religious leaders of his time were scandalized by this behavior.  

If we are to be about Jesus’ work, it seems to be we are to be about his work of helping lost souls find their home in God.  But we are to do so, not because we think we are better than they, but because we know ourselves what it is like to be lost.  God help us to be faithful in sharing his love.  Amen.

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