Sermon, September 15, 2019

Luke 15: 1-10

I speak to you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

Do you wonder what the tax collectors and sinners were hearing in the gospel passage this morning? Why did it resonate with them so much they sat and listened to Jesus speak? Have they heard Jesus speak before – most definitely. Why today?

When we think about tax collectors and sinners, the out casts in most societies, most probably trying to be inconspicuous because they knew what others thought of them. But here was Jesus speaking directly to them, Jesus was including them in the discussion, making eye contact with them. The Pharisees and scribes were horrified – How can he welcome these sinners and eat with them? There is Jesus, breaking all the rules again and again. He is trying to get the world to understand that things will be different with him and with the story he needs to tell. Are we not hearing that Gods love is for everyone – that it is not just the chosen few as some would have us believe, and as some in Jesus’ time believed?

It is the temptation of those who consider themselves good, to believe that we are it, the chosen few. Jesus shows himself close to those who make mistakes. It is one of the major challenges of the Gospel – to teach that all are included, everyone. Jesus turns the conversation around and speaks to these grumbling Pharisees and scribes by teaching about MERCY. He speaks of mercy in the telling of the parables – the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin – both parties rejoice when the lost is found, celebrating with others. Jesus uses these parables to try and explain to us the sense of how God seeks us, and his joy when our friendship with him is renewed. Are we able to set aside all our busyness and seek the lost, the people in our communities who are in need? Can we set aside our fears and go after the one lost sheep or one lost coin? It is good to spend some time realizing the value Jesus puts on our friendship which can help us appreciate how precious we are to him.

The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin help us to understand the constant, faithful and unrelenting love God has for each of us, but especially for the sinner. God never gives up on anyone. These parables also help to inspire us and help us realize that as good Christians we have been plugging the gaps in social programs for ages by reaching out to those who have drifted into isolation, poverty and despair. We are called to be the extension of Gods love in the world. Look at the value of our Community Dinner program, it started small and now has many, many people being fed and staying afterwards to socialize with others.

A commentary I read about this passage says “The healthy have no need of a doctor”. In society today we are constantly told to look after the 99 and not worry about the 1 lost, but Jesus constantly turns that around and as Christ followers we embrace the love and care that God has for that one lost soul. We are, and need to continue to be the “Doctor” to the one lost. This Gospel passage reveals the real heart of God – the God who searches out for the lost. The God, thru Jesus, who welcomes everyone unconditionally – no judging, no condemnation. In him is found pure love and acceptance.

Can you picture in your mind the woman bent over broom in hand, sweeping the whole house looking for that precious coin, one tenth of her wealth? Jesus compares his care for us to our searching for the lost “things” in our lives – he really wants us near him, he searches and searches till he finds us, faults and all. Jesus will do everything in his power to bring us back to the fold. We can accomplish this searching and yearning thru prayer – the whole self is the self we bring to prayer, searching for the God who loves all of us and all of creation. I believe this is the message the tax collectors and sinners heard that morning listening to Jesus.

“Jesus, you welcome all into your warm embrace. When we are lost you come to find us. When we are in despair, you come to lift us up. When we feel forsaken, you remind us of your great love for each one of us. Thank you for loving us just as we are.” “Please help us to hear the Gospel stories with new ears and a renewed heart, knowing of your love for everyone, unconditionally, and that we continue to be the helper of the lost.”

I pray this may be so, AMEN