Sought and Celebrated: A Monday Message on Luke 15:1-32
“Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that waslost.” – Luke 15:6b “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.” – Luke 15:9 “Let us eat and celebrate, for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” – Luke 15:23b-24
In the season of Lent, the unpopular but necessary movement of repentance is important. To repent is to turn away from sin and toward God. This is important in Lent because as we reflect on our frailty and our dependence on God, we can’t help but reflect on sin. Our frailty is evidence of sin’s power in our world, and we often sin by thinking we can live independently from God.
Perhaps repentance is unpopular because we fear the consequence of coming clean to God. When we sin against people, we don’t know how they’ll respond. Will they be angry? Will they trust us again? Can our relationship survive? We often project those fears on God.
Today’s passage describes how God responds to our repentance in a series of three parables: The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and The Prodigal Son. I invite you to read them again now. These parables are often depicted as Lost and Found, the sheep, the coin, and the younger son represent sinners and the shepherd, woman, and father represent God, and finding the lost item represents returning to God through repentance. But when I read these parables, I don’t like thinking of them as Lost and Found parables because to me that phrase Lost and Found evokes images of a bucket in a school or church office with a random assortment of goods that will never be claimed.
Let me give you an example. I love Nalgene bottles – they keep me hydrated and they are infinitely better for the environment than plastic water bottles, but I lose them all the time. Now if I find one I’ve lost, I’m not going to call you and say “Rejoice with me! I have found my lost Nalgene bottle!” But with God in these parables, it’s more than lost and found. It’s sought and celebrated. God seeks us, and then he celebrates us. God seeks after us at all times, and there’s no amount of lost-ness that will keep him from seeking us. And when he finds us, when we return to his possession, to his flock, through repentance – he celebrates. Now think of that – if being found by God means we repent from some sin, wouldn’t you expect some punishment? Or at least disappointment? But we project this on God. God celebrates when we return to him. We are sought and celebrated by God.
As we reflect on God’s love during this Lenten season, these parables confront us and convict us to see God’s unconditional love as a love that invites us to repent, a love that forgives us, and a love that celebrates us when we return to Him.
Holy God, we ask for your forgiveness. We confess that we live too often in fear and too often independently from you. We thank you that your love invites us back to you. We thank you that when we do return, you are there waiting with open arms. We thank you that when we return you not only welcome us back, but you throw a party for us. You celebrate us. Your love for us is so great. Thank you, Lord! In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.