Which of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? Luke 15:4
This is part of the reading about the lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. And each time the “lost” is “found” there is a fiesta! A party. Time to celebrate! There is rejoicing over that which had been lost and now is found.
Each of them are crazy stories in a sense. No shepherd would leave a flock of ninety-nine to look for one sheep. The ninety-nine would be far to vulnerable to wolves or thieves or their own stupidity.
The art that is pictured is a tile mosaic form the front of a church in western Minnesota. The lambs picture a variety of relationships to the shepherd. One has its eyes fixed on the shepherd. One is looking off in the distance. One is walking away. And one is tucked safely in the shepherd’s arms. Members of the congregation gaze at that mosaic and ponder the different sheep portrayed. How and when have they been those lambs at different times in their life. The obedient one? The one kicking up its heels as it runs off? The one snuggled next to Jesus? The one walking away as it is still searching?
Would the shepherd seek the ornery sheep who is always causing trouble if that were the sheep who were lost? The scripture does not tell us that, but we might surmise that it wasn’t the obedient sheep who wandered off and got into trouble.
How about our congregations? Do we respond like the Good Shepherd and welcome the lost and those who have gone astray? Who is welcome in our doors? And who isn’t?
For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost. Luke 19:10
* Questions to Ponder
* Take a few moments to think back on your life. At what times did you feel lost or distant from Jesus? At what times was Jesus searching for you, or gathering you up in his arms?
* What would your congregation need to do to become known as a place that reaches out to those who aren’t part of a community of faith? What can you do to help?
* “Material from Book of Faith Lenten Journey: Beyond Question by Eric Burtness copyright © 2012 Augsburg Fortress. Posted by permission. All rights reserved.”