Seeking the Lost
When have you felt most lost in your life?
…As a child, in a strange new school?
…As a teen, feeling left out of the cliques in school? Angry at parents who didn’t seem to understand?
…As a young adult, trying to find your way as friends seem to move with confidence into careers and relationships?
…As an older person, who has lost a great love in your life, and feeling like a ship without a rudder? Or lost a job that defined who you are?
When we feel lost, we look around with awe at all the others who seem to have it all together, who move forward without doubt, who seem to be so “found.”
In our series on “Practicing Love,” we reflect together this week on being lost, and on finding new love, new purpose, new belonging in life. Jesus put it in terms his hearers would understand well: a shepherd has a large flock of sheep, and one gets lost. What will the shepherd do? Mind the 99 in the herd, or seek out the lost?
You know Jesus’ answer. He seeks out the lost and brings her home. That is the loving thing to do. And then he celebrates that the lost one is found! He didn’t try to analyze the causes of the lostness, or berate the little sheep who wandered off. He went and found her, brought her back, and celebrated.
This is good news for us. The “sinners” whom the Pharisees despise are the chief target of Jesus’ love. When a sinner comes home, that is the greatest joy in heaven! That means none of us is so lost that we are beyond the reach of God, beyond the arms of Jesus to reach us.
Of course, there is a second part of this cycle of love: we need to reach out in love to other people who are lost, just as Jesus reaches out to us. That’s how we practice love for the lost. What does it look like…at St. Dunstan’s? One parishioner volunteered at a crisis hotline. Another uses therapy animals to reach children with special needs. Another makes phone calls to people who live alone, and visits with flowers now and then. Another counsels teens in traumatic situations. Another teaches students with difficult home lives, using art to help them express themselves.
How do you practice love, with people who are lost? How have others loved you when you have felt lost? We’ll explore this further in the sermon at the late service. These will be posted on our website as well, if you are interested. JBM