Sep16MonA sermon for September 22 (Lectionary 24C) September 16, 2019
Grace and peace…
Have you ever lost something?
Silly question, I know.
Of course, everyone has lost something or misplaced something sometime.
Losing things can be very frustrating,
it can make you angry.
Probably the most frustrated I get is if I’m leaving the house,
often maybe late for a meeting or something,
and I can’t find my keys, or my wallet.
I look in the normal spot for them…nothing.
I look in my pants’ pockets from yesterday…
the keys are still nowhere to be found.
Where are those AAGH keys!
You know the feeling,
and I search and I curse and
I look up and down the whole house,
throwing clothes around and then there they are…
still sticking in the door lock from last night,
Sometimes you find what you’re looking for really quickly,
like in the second place you look,
or sometimes it can take a long time to find something.
I once lost my keys for a very long time…
It was in my first winter after moving to Richmond Hill,
we lived in the parsonage at the time, which had a very large backyard.
I lost my keys for a full 3 months that winter.
One day in April as the snow was melting in the back yard,
I noticed something shiny on the ground…my keys!
Now how did they get there in the snow?
And then I remembered:
in January Carey and I (this was before we had kids)
decided to make a skating rink in the back yard.
Now to start a skating rink, you need a very flat surface.
So how do you make a really flat surface in the snow?
Well you roll around in the snow!
That was fun.
But I guess I had my keys in my coat at the time,
and the keys were in an unzipped pocket….
so the keys fell out while I was rolling around in the snow,
I never noticed,
and the snow surface got layer upon layer of water sprayed over it,
and the water turned into layer upon layer of ice upon it.
And so my keys were hidden in a deep layer of ice.
Very securely, as a matter of fact.
So that’s how my keys got lost in the back yard,
and not found until the snow and ice melted.
Lost and found.
We have two small parables in our Gospel reading today,
both about seeking lost objects.
In the first parable,
Jesus asks his hearers to imagine they had 100 sheep.
Now who among you has ever owned sheep?
Probably only one or two of you here in church, if any.
So it is hard for us to imagine.
Nevertheless, imagine you owned 100 sheep
and you lose one, and you leave 99 in the wilderness,
not in a safe place, not in a corral,
and you go after the 1st lost one until you find it.
Can you imagine that?
Some might say that is actually pretty dumb:
you don’t leave 99 behind,
you cut your losses, tough luck!
you’re better off with 99 safe and secure.
Who cares about the 1% who are lost?
A bird in hand is worth two in the bush!
So it doesn’t make sense from our perspective
to go search for one lost sheep,
but it does from God’s perspective,
which we might acknowledge, is a little different.
Also, whether we abandon the 99 for the 1 depends on how valuable the lost item is.
What is something that is valuable to you that you lost?
I doubt any of you have lost a sheep.
Perhaps you’ve lost your wallet,
or some important papers
or your computer or tablet or phone crashes and you lose valuable data,
or you forgot a password.
Don’t you go out and search everywhere,
ask your family members to help,
turn the house upside down,
or in the case of a virus hitting your computer,
going to thecomputer shop as soon as possible to get it fixed?
Yeah, if it’s important enough,
you’ll do everything you can to recover what’s lost.
(If it’s not important, then well you forget it…
like for an example, a lost, extra brussel sprout…
“I’m sure there were 24 brussel sprouts in that bag…
who is going to search everywhere for that missing brussel sprout? Certainly not me, I hate brussel sprouts,
I’d be “ ya, I’m glad that brussel sprout is gone and missing!)
Good riddance…brussel sprout!”
So unless it’s of value, you don’t bother looking for it, right?
On to Jesus’ second Parable:
a woman loses ten silver coins,
so maybe worth 1,000 bucks.
She lights a lamp, sweeps the house, searches carefully,
then when she finds that coin she throws a party,
calls her friends and neighbours.
“Rejoice with me” she cries out “for I have found the coin I have lost!”
She tells her friends, just like the shepherd who told his friends
about the lost sheep he found.
The point of the parables is that:
there is more Joy among the angels of God over one sinner’s rescued life
than over the 99 righteous ones who have no need of rescue.
But more importantly, these parables say that
we are worth it!
We are worth finding by God!
The Good shepherd came to seek out and save the lost.
God has a commitment to find those
who are forgotten or who have gone astray.
Just like the woman in the parable who sought intensely:
she lit a lamp,
swept the floors, looked in every nook and cranny. ….
God is persistent
God is relentless in seeking you.
“God will find you and seek you out!!”
“God notices when you are lost in the midst of the thousands
and the millions.”
You are precious in God’s sight!
God wants to be in a personal relationship with you!
and he wants to maintain that relationship.
You’re “not lost in the sea of many”
God knows every hair on your head.
and God loves you so very much.
Another insight from our Gospel is that
2. “God loves to celebrate when he finds the lost.”
In both parables, both the shepherd and the woman throw a party
with their neighbours, a big party,
an extravagant party.
(we get a description of what a party like that can look like
in the story of the lost son and the forgiving father,
also known as the prodigal son):
where there is a fatted calf, wine, and music,
merriment for dozens of people,
we’re talking a lavish party here…)
The costs of the party are way more
than the sheep or the coin that are found.
it’s not prudent to “waste so much money”
to celebrate finding an object that small.
It’s like saying:
“yeh, I found a quarter on the sidewalk!
let’s buy some champagne to celebrate.
Who does that?
..well, God does that.
God loves to celebrate when he finds what is lost.
God celebrates when he finds you!
God dances a jig when he gets to spend time with you!
God breaks out the champagne when you spend some time in prayer!
And we here at church
like to mirror that and echo that celebration.
We call this time on Sundays “celebrating worship”.
At the end there is a meal and redemption,
we are sent “on our way rejoicing”,
because we like to celebrate too when we spend time with God.
“Part of the Christian life is celebrating the redemption of ourselves
and of others”
Why do we come to church?
Because part of the act of believing—is celebrating that all are here.
A major part of being a Christian is enjoying
being part of a community of faith.
You’ll be missed if you’re not here!
Every single one of you matters…
also for the work we do here at St. Matthews
You all, in small or large ways contribute
to our family of faith here in Kitchener.
So it’s great that you came this morning,
on this Community BBQ Sunday which functions a bit like a welcome back after summer Rally Sunday.
I’m really happy.
You were missed if you haven’t been here much over the past few months!
It’s wonderful you’re here today.
It’s great that God sought you out.
And as we acknowledge and celebrate God’s grace, God’s love,
it’s important to remember that
sometimes we are the ones who are searched out,
and sometimes we are the seekers and the searchers ourselves…
3. God wants us to seek and find the lost too.
God wants us to invite others into the sheep-fold of Christ.
September is a great time (and our community BBQ in particular) is a great time to practice our invitation skills, our seeking out skills,
September is a good time to think of people we can invite to church,
and see how we can seek others out with all the persistence
that God shows in seeking us out.
Invite as you have been invited.
Seek as you have been sought.
Because God thinks we are all so precious
that it’s worth throwing a heavenly party for.
All we have to do is let ourselves be found,
because softly and tenderly
Jesus is calling us.
Hymn 608 Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling