This past Sunday I heard a sermon (which you can watch below) shared by Pastor Dan Poffenberger at Trinity Lutheran Church in Stillwater, Minnesota. He reflected on Luke 15, and its inclusion of three separate but very much connected parables. They all have something to say about being “lost.” What might this mean? What particular questions come to mind when we hear these familiar words again? I should add that I have included this on my bog because I thought the sermon was an important reflection to join the on-going conversation about the love of our neighbor and the complexity of community and welcome (among other topics).
For a very short summary of the parables: 1) The first (Luke 15:1-7) is about a lost sheep. As a sheep it may not even recognize that its lost or traveled away from its larger family. Yet, the shepherd searches for and finds it.; 2) The second (Luke 15:8-10) is about a woman looking for a lost coin. She rejoices when she finds it. Perhaps this raises a question about a fear of God losing sight of us, if we were the coin lost in a crazy large world.; and 3) The third (Luke 15:11-32) is the parable of the Prodigal Son, and a story basically of willful abandonment. All of these are stories about being lost to some degree. So how do you see yourself in these? Perhaps you may have chased the wrong dream or followed the wrong path?
Towards the end of the sermon, Dan shares what these stories can say to an addict. The Prodigal Son story is like that of an addict returning to his or her family. Whereas the story of the lost coin is the personal feeling of an addict feeling that there is no one searching for you or missing you. The reality though is that the addict is the lost sheep, simply lost and wandering away.
There is something important to know about this, which speaks to the vastness and completeness of God’s love, promise, and community. As Dan concludes, “its okay that we wander. God never forgets us, and its never too late to come home to the party.” God is there, present, searching and hoping to be in relationship with us, because God is for you.
What do you think? How do these sorts of stories and images move you? Do they have an impact on how you approach others and live into community?