Scripture - Luke 15:8 - “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?
Quote – Soren Kierkegaard Never cease loving a person, and never give up hope for him, for even the prodigal son who had fallen most low, could still be saved; the bitterest enemy and also he who was your friend could again be your friend; love that has grown cold can kindle.
A fun game to play with this weeks story from Luke is to read through it and either highlight in your bible, or if that creeps you out (some people taught to takes notes in their bible and others to NEVER do such a thing), make a list of all the action words, the verbs. Particularly the actions of the shepherd the woman and the father. Each of these characters are intended by Jesus to reveal the life and mission of God. So I invite you to pause now and make a list.
If you’ve decided to play along you will have on your list words or phrases such as; go after, joyfully puts it on his shoulders, rejoice, light a lamp, sweep the house, search carefully, rejoice (again), ran, threw his arms around, kissed, celebrate. What do you notice about your list? The first two parables reveal great effort and even some risk. It is risky (even foolish) to risk 99 sheep in order to find one. But there goes the shepherd expending all this energy and risking his profits, stamping around in the undergrowth and yelling at the sky searching for one sheep. The woman goes to great lengths to find a coin. That one coin out of ten is no doubt worth more than one sheep out of 100. But that is perhaps the point. Those who are lost are of great value and worth. And did you notice how utterly unrestrained and even silly the father acts. A man of wealth, status and honor would NOT run, in public, to greet the son who had previously publicly shamed him. But there goes the father, throwing decorum to the wind, gathering up his robe to run down the road, and shamefully welcoming his dishonored son home with wanton public displays of affection.
The point of all this to completely reorient the way those who resist the call to be reconcilers think about God. You may recall that in the past I have suggested that two of the main schools of faith presented to us in the Bible are purity and justice. Those who resist reconciling are in the purity camp. God is disgusted an displeased by human sin. So God must keep a distance from the impurity of sin. Jesus highlighting the justice or justifying view of God. God does not need to keep distance from sin, chaos, brokenness but instead enters it to heal and recreate it. Instead of trying to please an angry God disgusted by sin and impurity, Jesus entices the Pharisees (and all who be his disciples) to participate in God's primary action in creation, seeking, finding and rescuing the lost and the broken. One of the reasons that these parables, especially the parable of the Prodigal Son remain favorites, is because God is presented as relentlessly searching for the lost, pursuing the wandering, in order to joyfully place them on God's shoulders and bring them home. If faith is that spiritual practice that connects us and draws us closer to God, these parables reveal a God whose primary action is always reaching out toward God's creation seeking wholesome, healing relationship.
Study – 1 John 4: 7-21
Prayer – Help us to greet this new day inspired and energized by the creative action you are already taking in the world, searching, running, greeting, embracing God. Not so that we are caught up in the need to be busy to prove ourselves, but to meet each moment of our day confident that you are already there making each challenge an opportunity to join in the joyful celebration of your life changing love unleashed on the world. Find us and fill us with that joy and send us out into the world rejoicing.