Called to Rejoice and to Care
15 September 2019 – Proper 19 Lectionary 24
As a small child, I remember being lost in the local Piggly Wiggly. I was in the canned goods while my poor mother was somewhere over in the produce. It felt bad to be lost. I was anxious, upset, wanting nothing but to see my mother again. Yet, even then I knew that my mother was upset about it too, and she was looking for me. I was lost to her even as she was lost to me.
The parable is not about the sheep or the coin. It is about what it is like for the loser of the sheep and the coin. . . When we are lost, we are not lost just to ourselves; we are lost to God. When we are lost, something unwholesome has happened to God. . . It matters to God; that’s the important information here. –– John E. Smith
Moses intercedes for the people, asks God to remember the purpose of it all, and calls God to repent. He uses politically astute arguments: “O God, your reputation is going to be dirt for a long time if it winds up that you brought this people out here just to kill them. . .” God repents. Yea, God! Good job, Moses! And, yes, God, you know how to pick em.
Do you think it might be equally amazing that God calls us, as he did Moses, to be in the world interceding for his creation?. . .
The prayer life of the church makes a difference, so let us be at it. Let us pray for forgiveness and mercy for nations making war on each other. Let us pray for people regarding each other with greater charity. . . Let us care enough to stand between God and terror. –– John E. Smith
1 Timothy 1:12-17
When I was terrified about my lostness in the Piggly Wiggly, I can vividly remember feeling responsibility for being lost and for getting myself found. That’s part of how I knew it mattered a great deal also to my mother. . . I laid conventional concern for public rudeness aside and began to yell at the top of my lungs, “Mommy, where are you?” It matters to God even more. How much?
Well, we read in I Timothy, “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” It matters that much more, God’s own Son, the body and blood of Jesus, that we might get found. . .
We see a picture of God longing for our rejoicing. . . He would share with us his joy at paying the extra wage to the one-hour laborer in the vineyard, at tax collectors and sinners drawing near to hear his son, at prodigal fathers explaining the fatted calf to the elder sibling. God invites us. . . to learn again to rejoice at things found and lifted up, and . . . to do it together, to share the joy. –– John E. Smith
John E. Smith has served as a Methodist pastor for many years.
Homily Service 40, no. 10 (2007): 30-40.