Reflections 9-11-19

Texts for Sunday, September 15, 2019
14th Sunday after Pentecost

Exodus 32:7-14
Psalm 51:1-10
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Luke 15:1-10

Have you been lost? I really haven’t been seriously lost in the physical sense. I’m pretty good with maps. Have I been lost in other ways? Oh yes. Incomprehension, yes. Depression, yes. Grief, yes. Dry bone spirit, yes. 

Have you ever lost something you valued? Have you ever lost someone you valued?

Did you see the news story about the woman who went hiking in in a forest preserve in Hawaii (Maui)? It was in May this year. A group of volunteer searchers refused to stop searching even after the professional searches called their search off. They hiked and hunted and even killed predators to look for pieces of her in their stomachs. She, in the meantime, had fallen and fractured her leg, lost her shoes in a flood and became dehydrated. On day 17, a helicopter crew saw and rescued her. Her family and friends were VERY grateful to find her alive.  There may have been a party, but I don’t know that.

I lost my wedding ring from November to May one year. I had visited my mother’s grave and swept off dried leaves with my hands to place some flowers there. I did not notice when it fell off. I realized half way home after we had eaten supper at a diner. I frantically called because I was sure it was there and it was not. I tore apart my car the next morning. Not there.  I went back to the grave in May, my wedding ring was right there on her gravestone. I was shocked and amazed and VERY happy to get it back. I didn’t have a party but I certainly celebrated.

These sound like Jesus’ parables, don’t they? (Except in Luke we know for certain there were parties.)

As many parents probably also have, I have felt that clutch of fear in my stomach a couple of times when I lost sight of my little girl in public places. Finding her was such a relief and joy. But then thinking about all the horrid things that could have happened, it was hard to not to have fear turn to anger.  Not so much a party for either of us then. 

About the same time as the woman in Hawaii was lost, another young man was lost in a different forest preserve in Hawaii. A few days after the joy of finding her, searchers did find him. But this time the young man was dead at the bottom of a high cliff. Again, not so much a party scene.

Back to Jesus. 
What are we to think? Sometimes lost is found; sometimes lost is lost.

And then, do we focus on the lost part or do we focus on the party part? It is so hard to think outside the box when the parables are familiar.

Am I the shepherd/woman? Who are the lost I should seek? Am I even looking in the right place?

Is God the lost? It sounds like the place God would hang out, doesn’t it? With the lost, unseen, and maybe even forgotten? There is that thing in Matthew about what you do to the lost (hungry, sick, naked, imprisoned) is what you do to God. 

So, my last questions…if I find God in the lost as mentioned above, do I party hearty as in I-am-so-happy-to-have-found? And who is the center of attention in the party? Moi? As a wonderful seeker? 

Or do I truly celebrate that what/who was lost was found?

Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245