Sermon of the Week

“Find a Phone” by Rev Ronee Christy

Luke 15: 1-10                                     ‘Find A Phone”                                      September 11, 2022

            Welcome to worship.  It is GOOD to worship God together.  This is the beginning of a new school year – and it just seems like September gets us back into a schedule … even when we are retired and not in school.

            It is good to get back into a schedule and good to get to begin our plans for a new and vital year in this worshipping community … this CHURCH… the body of Christ!

            Also, we are reminded that today – September 11th – marks 21 years since the tragic bombing of the Trade Center.  21 years ago, most of us can remember where we were at this time on September 11th – we remember the fear and confusion – we remember the disbelief and the sadness of the day.  We remember that day because the world changed that day … we look at things in a different way … 9/11 we saw that evil was more than the sum of its parts … we saw people scattering and afraid AND we saw people caring for each other – risking their own lives for the safety of others … usually complete strangers… we saw a city come together to care for one another.  More than that we saw a God who understands and assures us that 9/11 type of situations do NOT define who God is… it is not the final or the full picture… within it all … we are given the assurance of God’s grace and life in the midst of the smoke and confusion.   God is persistent and even when it does not feel like it … or look like it .. this text today reminds us of the importance of our relationship with God … the text reminds us that God knew/knows the names of each person who was affected by the tragedy of that day 21 years ago…. God knows the names of each person who carries pain … who feels alone …. Who needs encouragement …? GOD REACHES OUT to find each one of us when we are lost and LOVES us and cares for us ALWAYS …. It matters to God that we are ok … it matters to GOD that we are safe and in relationship with God.

            Today’s lectionary passage tells of 2 of the 3 LOST stories in the Gospel of Luke. 

I like Jesus … because he tells stories and the stories that he tells are things we all know about … things that we can connect with … There is nothing MORE frustrating that loosing something …. Being all ready to walk out the door and not being able to find your KEYS …. Or your phone …

I have a tile/app on my computer that allows me to find my phone when I can’t find it … and I have a tile that lets me find my keys. … it makes the phone beep so I can follow the noise until I locate the phone. [find locations on a map]

I had a friend in Iowa who lost his car once.  He went to the mall and when he came out he could not find his car … he looked everywhere he even walked around the entire mall – finally he called the police and reported his car stolen … two days later they found his car in a ravine outside the mall … he

had gotten out of his car and forgot to put it in park – went into the mall …. Meanwhile . The car rolled over the little hill and stopped in the ravine.  

Another friend of mine had a similar experience … she went to a store and when she came out, she could not find her car… she looked everywhere, and all her friends looked … finally she called the police and then she remembered she didn’t drive to the meeting. … she had gotten a ride.

It is really frustrating to lose something … to misplace something… you know you just had the file and now you cannot find it …. OR TOOLS … you are working on a project, and you cannot find the hammer that you JUST had in your hand … so frustrating … usually that frustration is short lived but sometimes … when you lose something it is really important, and it is really scary…

One time I lost TOBYN (she was 4) at the Monroeville mall…. That was not funny and that was terrifying … even though it was only for a few minutes … it was terrifying … (she paged me. :/)

Loosing something is something we all understand … and the more precious the thing that we lose is … more we rejoice when we find it.

In this story today a woman (who does not have much money to begin with) … owes some money … she has a bill to pay, and she loses 1/10 of the amount she owes… she loses one coin…. She hunts all through the house … she looks behind cushions, she lights all. The oil lamps so she can see to find it … she sweeps the whole house out to find the coin. … and FINALLY, she finds the coin and scripture says she celebrates… she calls her neighbors (because quite likely they were looking for it with her) and she wants them to CELEBRATE together.

The first part of the parable that Jesus told, was about the lost sheep.  Here it is again:   Jesus told them, “Suppose someone among you had 100 sheep and lost one of them.  Wouldn’t he leave the other 99 in the pasture and search for the lost one until he finds it?”   Of COURSE, he would go look for the lost sheep …. That sheep was important … precious … and worth a lot! 

Then it says … the shepherd is SO happy to find the sheep (he does not yell at the sheep or hit the sheep for wandering off – he picks up this sheep (and it does not designate that this is a little lamb … it says SHEEP … and he places this lost sheep over his shoulders and carried it back to safety. THEN he calls his friends and neighbors and says …COME celebrate with me because I have found my lost sheep ….

This story that Jesus is telling us. —  not about converting the masses … it’s not about the group … it is about the ONE… it is about YOU.  It is about the JOY that is with GOD when YOU are found — when you are OK … God seeks and searches out YOU … God cares about EACH of God’s children … no matter where and no matter WHO they are.   God knows you and LOVES you!  There is great rejoicing in heaven over the one …

Jesus is reminding us that when one of us is hurting we are all hurting … when one of us is missing /// we are all sad.  If one of us is sick … we are all sick to some extent.

Notice Jesus uses the shepherd example here …. And the Shepherd is God in this parable …. We are the sheep in this parable. in those days everyone knew some very basic things:

            1.). Shepherds / a good shepherd/ felt COMPLETELY responsible for the sheep under their care.  In fact, if something happened to a sheep the shepherd had to give the reason that the sheep was hurt or killed.  … in some cases, if a wild animal killed the sheep the shepherd would retrieve the remaining part of the animal to prove that there was nothing he, (as the shepherd) could have done to save the sheep.

David was a shepherd and in the OT, it tells of David fighting with a lion and a bear while he was caring for his father’s flock.

          Often neighboring shepherds helped each other when they knew that there was something in the area that would harm the sheep.

          Shepherding was/ (and still is) a dangerous job when it comes to thieves who come at night to steel sheep from the flock.  There are stories that still happen that tell of shepherds being killed because they are standing their ground and defending the herd.  There was a story of a shepherd being killed by thieves in the middle east last year in the news… the shepherd was protecting his sheep when he was killed.

Today is the 21st anniversary of 9/11 …. I would think a similar modern type of job that could be used as an illustration of what Jesus is saying about himself today – could be that of a firefighter. Those Firefighters were not in it just for the money.  They went into those burning buildings to rescue people.  They risk their lives to save others.  They did not turn around and run away when they got to the building and saw the devastation in the building. Many of those Firefighters laid down their lives for others.  They led people to a place of air and life.  They came in when things were dark and scary, and they picked people up and carried them out of the danger. And for those who were saved …. There was great rejoicing and thanksgiving. (and they didn’t save only the ones that were good … or ones they liked … they were there for everyone they could reach!

That is the picture Jesus is painting – YOU are so important to God that God will do anything to SAVE YOU….

This passage is a picture of the level of LOVE that God has for you and the EXTENT that God will go to help you … to pick you up and carry you … to lift you on shoulders of rescue and carry you out of the danger….

That is the LOVE that God has for you!

We must know this LOVE is deep and never-ending …. No matter what situation comes up in this life … remember and KNOW that God’s love for you is unending…. Because sometimes it is hard to FEEL that love … sometimes really hard things happen … really bad things happen, and it FEELS lonely and hopeless … YOU wait for God to come and change your circumstance and it is disappointing — disheartening — confusing when things are still hard, and nothing seems to change…. When the person you love is still sick … when the person you love is still addicted — when the family is still estranged – when you still don’t have your health — or any money – or you still feel alone …. And your body is broken….   It FEELS like God is far away … but KNOW that God is present … I cannot tell you WHY things in this life are so difficult – WHAT I CAN tell you is that this is NOT the end … this world is a broken place and there are lifelong struggles …. I wish that were not so … but over and over we are given the assurance that the GOD who LOVES you … the GOOD SHEPHERD who climbs down rocky paths to find you and carry you to safety … the one who intentionally goes into buildings that are on fire … to show you a path way out… where you can BREATHE… THAT GOD is walking with you … beside you … around and through YOU … all of your life … THAT GOD is your strength and your HOPE.  THAT GOD cares about each one of you … individually … as God’s child YOU matter, and YOU are LOVED.

            Know that as you move though these next days … and acknowledge how very much God loves you …. allow that love to help you to reach out with care and concern to all those you meet this week.