Are You Able to Rejoice?


Luke 15:1-10

I couldn’t have been more than nine years old when I can remember the first really important thing that I had lost in my life. I was out in the backyard playing or something, and was asked to keep an eye out for my sister that was probably about three at the time. Needless to say I got wrapped up in what I was doing and was not paying attention. Really, that has not changed much today as I do a fine job of ignoring those things around me when I am focused in on something, just ask my wife. The fact is that I got so wrapped up in what I was doing that my sister managed to venture off. I honestly do not remember what happened in that “in between time.” I am not sure who realized that my sister was not out there with me, whether it was myself or my parents. I do recall a bit of anger as it came to my parents. There may have possibly been some loud voices involved.

I am sure that if I could to sit down and talk to every single one of you, you would have your own stories of things that you have lost throughout the years. We lose material things. We lose contact with people that we have had friendships with throughout our lives. Relationships are broken and we lose people that were close to us.  We can lose our health in many various ways. We lose loved ones in death in this earthly life until Jesus comes again. In the midst of losses that we encounter throughout our lives, do we look for times to rejoice as well?

In our gospel lesson this morning Jesus is continuing to teach his disciples in the midst of the grumbling from the Pharisees and the scribes. There concern is that Jesus is also teaching the tax collectors and sinners. Jesus uses this time to share with them the lost parables. Chapter 15 not only includes the two parables that we hear this morning in the lost sheep and the lost coin, it also contains the parable of the prodigal and his brother. In the midst of these parables there is the common denominator that something has been lost and is now found. The shepherd is not concerned with the other 99 sheep that are near him, he is concerned for the one that is lost. Once he finds the lost sheep, his response is to place the sheep on his shoulders, a sign of closeness that shows the  love the shepherd has for his flock. The woman is not concerned about the 9 coins that are accounted for, she is busy looking for the one that is lost. In the story of the prodigal, if you recall, the father is not worried about his son that is still present and doing his work on the farm, his concern is for the son that has not returned. He sits and waits and runs to him when he sees him coming.

All of these parables bring about a cause for celebration. A chance to rejoice with everyone present and throw a wonderful party celebrating that the lost has now been found. Have you ever thought that to Jesus, the lost in this does not come to us in the parables, but in the tax collectors and sinners. They have chosen to follow Jesus and listen to his words, they were lost and now are found. What about the Pharisees and the scribes? Perhaps they are the ones that have been found through hearing Jesus’ parables. God rejoices whenever anyone comes to be in relationship with God.  This is a cause for celebration and one that should be ongoing.

Perhaps, we can even find the lost in the midst of our Good Old Days Celebrations this weekend. God is at work in our relationships and celebrations as we come together and we rejoice at seeing people that may only get the chance to come back to town this one time of year. The excitement that surrounds the entire weekend is the same type of excitement that we should exude in the church on a daily basis. We have all lost things and are at times lost ourselves. It is in Jesus Christ that we experience a saving grace that looks beyond our faults and sins and welcomes us into eternal life. How can we be lost knowing that Jesus is beside us?

In our common beliefs, we are able to worship together and have these awesome services together throughout the year remembering that we are not alone. In this we rejoice in our ministries together.

I am sure you are still wondering what ever happened to my sister. After searching the backyard with to no avail, we expanded the search to the larger neighborhood. We found her about 10 minutes later near the driveway three houses down from ours. Now, we lived in the city, so the houses were closer together. At that moment there was a time of rejoicing as we found what was lost. I don’t think I was ever punished for that incident, but there certainly was a good conversation about taking responsibility seriously. And there was forgiveness and the chance to celebrate.

May you seek forgiveness that comes through Christ as we share communion, and may we rejoice knowing that Christ is here with us.

By Alex Steward

I am a husband, father, and pastor within the ELCA. I did not grow up in the church and thus come at this pastoring thing with an unique perspective.

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