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Posts Tagged ‘The Lost Sheep’


The Shepherd and the Lost Sheep

Luke 15: The Lost

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

“God is not withdrawn, waiting for humans to come begging, but is actively seeking those who are lost”.  (Senior Reading Guide 431)

Today we read three parables that speak to us about how deeply God loves us; it is important for us to hear them often.

The parable of the shepherd who leaves the flock to search for the lost sheep is also told by Matthew (18:12-14) and it presents for us a perfect image of God as we begin our Lenten journey.  He sets [the sheep] on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep”.  In this season of repentance we must remain faithful to God, calling on God for help when we realize that we can go no further alone down the road of life.

Luke tells us that God will call out continually for the lost.

The Woman and the Lost Coin

The parable of the lost coin describes the persistent search the housewife makes, searching carefully until she finds it.  And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, “Rejoice with me because I have found the coin I had lost”.  In this season of hope we must continue to trust that God will abide, trusting that God will answer our cries for help when the buffets of life overcome us.

Luke tells us that God will search endlessly for the lost.

Rembrandt: The Prodigal Son (detail)

The parable of the lost son is one we know well and we revel in verse 20: So he got up and went home to his father.  While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight if him, and was filled with compassion.  He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.  In this season of repentance we must continue to confide in God, telling God all that troubles us and all that blocks our successful completion of our journey.

Luke tells us that God will always welcome home all those who were once lost.

We draw strength from Isaiah 40:28-31 in which we are told that God always persists, God never fades, God never gives up. Do you not know or have you not heard?  The Lord is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not grow faint or grow weary, and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.  He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound.  Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, they that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint. 

And so we pray . . .

Good and gracious God, how is it that you never lose patience with us when we believe we do not need you in our lives?  Why is it that you love us despite all our turnings away from you?  When will we begin to understand the depth and the breadth of your love? 

Great and loving God, we know that for you we are pearls of great price.  We understand that because of you we are temples in which you hope to dwell.  We believe that you will ceaselessly call us back to you so that like the sheep, the coin and the erring child . . . we are never truly lost. 

Amen.


A re-post from February 23, 2012.

Images from: http://www.hansgruener.de/docs_e/krippen/e_strassenkrippe.htm and http://saints.sqpn.com/parable-of-the-lost-coin/ and http://transformingordinary2extraordinary.blogspot.com/2010/04/school-paper-prodigal-son.html

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Luke 17:26-37: The Days of Noah

Friday, November 18, 2016

Edward Hicks: Noah's Ark

Edward Hicks: Noah’s Ark

As a child, I was fascinated by the story of Noah. It presented images that both frightened and inspired; and I remember the fear I felt contrasted with my mother’s voice as she calmly read out the story to me. She sat on the side of my bed. I huddled under the blankets, grateful for her presence, dreading the outcome for those who scoffed at the idea of a great flood, knowing that I too, ignored many warnings sent to me.

As an adult, I am washed by love-dread emotions when reading the story. Perhaps the vivid pictures in my story book of drowning people banging against the side of the ark, pleading to be let in, still haunt me. As an adult, Jesus’ words today recall all the times I have thought I know the future better, all the times I thought I understood the past more deeply, and all the times I have lived my present without fully understanding myself and my surroundings. I think of our recent election in the U.S. and I wonder . . . who among us has taken heed of the prophecies . . . and who has not? Am I riding in the ark of Christ wondering if I have made the right decision? Or am I hammering at the side of the ship?

Jesus says: As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.

Where am I in this story? Who has built the ark and how large is it? What other life does it carry? Does my name appear on the manifest?

Jesus says: Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it.

What does this inversion mean for me today? How am I to enact this teaching in my life? How do I best demonstrate my love for God? Do I accurately reflect God’s image in a troubled world?

Jesus says: On that night, there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken, the other left.

Those who read scripture from a fundamental perspective preach the rapture, a time when the chosen are taken into heaven while the condemned are left behind. There are days and nights when I almost believe this notion, but then I remember how Jesus leaves the ninety-nine to find the one who is lost. I remember the stories of the prodigal son and his forgiving father, the woman at the well and the compassionate Jesus. I remember my mother sitting on my bed to read out the dreadful but lovely words of Noah and his family shutting themselves and the animal kingdom – two by two – into the ark to wait for another beginning.

Jesus says: As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.

What are we to make of this story? How does it play out in our lives today? How different are we in 2016 from those who peopled the planet in the days of Noah? And how does this knowledge change the way we act as we go out into the world for a new beginning each day?

For the story of Noah, read Genesis 7-9.

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Luke 15:4-6: With Great Joy

James Tissot: The Good Shepherd

James Tissot: The Good Shepherd

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Jesus poses a question to us.

Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them—what do you do? 

Jesus shows the path to us.

You leave the other ninety-nine sheep in the pasture and go looking for the one that got lost until you find it.

Jesus recalls our humanity for us.

When you find it, you are so happy that you put it on your shoulders, and with great joy you carry it back home.

Jesus models a faith-filled life for us.

Then you call your friends and neighbors together and say to them, “I am so happy I found my lost sheep. Let us celebrate!”

Jean-Baptiste de Champaigne: The Good Shepherd

Jean-Baptiste de Champaigne: The Good Shepherd

When confronted with an enormous problem or a nagging worry, we consider the abiding faith Jesus shows us when he abandons the ninety-nine in search of the one. Might we be so courageous as to allow God to guide our actions? We also consider the hopeful persistence Jesus displays as he endures in his search for the one lost sheep. Might we persevere and allow God to bolster our work in the kingdom? And we consider the compassionate, joy-filled mercy with which Jesus celebrates. Might we be as exuberant in our love for even the darkest of our nights and the most difficult of our days . . . always knowing that these trials will ultimately bring us great joy?

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to compare varying translations of these verses, we find that in our darkest circumstances, in our longest battles, and in the narrowest of places, Jesus shows us that with the Good Shepherd we might find the faith, hope and love to celebrate with great joy.

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Luke 15:1-32: All That was Lost

7_lost-sheep-jesus

The Lost Sheep

Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 6, 2016

Sceptics wonder where the faithful see God in the world that surrounds us. Non-believers take credit for all that they store up; they blame themselves and others for a lack of success. The faithful move forward with their eyes on the prize . . . the knowing that all that was lost will in the end be found, all who were scorned will in the end be justified, and all who were last will certainly be first.

In today’s Gospel we again hear the familiar stories of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son. We hear Jesus’ clear assertion after each of these stories that God rejoices more over the gratitude of the lost who are found than the steady love of those who never leave him. This certainly gives us something to consider.

We may see ourselves as sheep who never leave the shepherd’s side . . . but when we are honest we know that we have each been lost at one time or another. We might welcome the joy the creator showers on us.

Parable-of-Lost-Coin-Feti

The Lost Coin

There’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.

We may see our tiny turnings toward God as insignificant moments in a turbulent day . . . but God sees them as a wonderful occasion to rejoice. We might join in the rejoicing of others.

Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.

We may see a lack of fairness in our lives when those who are newly arrived to faith in God are celebrated as much or more than those who have been faithful . . . but God invites all of us to join in the celebration of the return of those who have been found. We might tell others this good news of God’s goodness.

You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!

1-1-1-1-1-A-A-lost-coin-found-We may each remember times when we have envied the good fortune showered on others when we work long and hard to remain close to God. We may each have experienced times in our lives when all that has been lost far overshadows what appears to be found. In all of these occasions, when we look carefully and honestly, we will see that what once was empty has been made full. What once was dark now has been made light. And what once was lost has
most beautifully been found. When we give thanks to God for this marvelous gift of redemption, we become part of the celebration and great joy in the kingdom that erupts when the lost are found.

prodigal son

The Lost Son

When we believe that we do not see God’s presence often in our lives, let us look at these times when weariness, anger, jealousy or envy may have unfocused our vision. And let us ask God for clarity as we begin this week’s Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “God’s generosity is sometimes not fair,” let us think instead, “When we put away the past and follow God’s example of enormous generosity, we are better able to welcome the lost back home into the kingdom . . . and to give thanks for our own part in God’s great rejoicing”. 

For other reflections on, The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin and The Prodigal Son, use the blog search bar to explore. 

To learn about The Innocence Project that assists prisoners who could be proven innocent through DNA testing, visit: http://www.innocenceproject.org/free-innocent. Find out about how more than 300 people in the United States have been exonerated, including 20 who served time on death row. For a story Anthony Ray Hinton, one of those freed after nearly 30 years in Alabama, forgives those who incarcerated him, visit: https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/04/09/30-years-on-death-row-a-conversation-with-anthony-ray-hinton#.VmpdpHOMQ 

Tomorrow, coming to believe.

 

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