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Sunday, September 15, 2019
Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 15:1–10
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “Which one 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? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (NRSV)
My grandparents were farmers in Ohio and raised many sheep that I remember seeing spread out in the field placidly eating grass. It created such a scene of tranquility, but if anything scared them they were quick to run and try to get away. It took only one sheep to become frightened and the entire flock would run from the perceived fear. But if my grandparents’ sheep ran, there were fences to keep them in the field; without those barriers the entire flock would have scattered far away.
Jesus told a story about sheep in which there is great rejoicing over one lost sheep, but just as amazing is that the shepherd could leave the other ninety-nine sheep and trust that they would not run away. It was such a deep mutual trust between shepherd and sheep that the shepherd could leave and trust that they would not run away because the sheep knew they were cared for and loved at all times.
The reason the sheep on my grandparents’ farm were calm most of the time was because they could rely on the care and safety, food and water my grandparents lovingly provided. The tranquility was rarely interrupted by any sense of danger. The ninety-nine sheep in the story Jesus told have the same sense of loving security provided by their shepherd, and that is why he can trust them enough to leave them. This unbreakable love for and trust in the shepherd that the ninety-nine sheep have is cause for rejoicing, just as much as is finding the one lost sheep.
So rejoice if you are that lost sheep that is found, but also rejoice if you are one of the ninety-nine sheep left behind. You are loved and trusted by God more than you can possibly know.
Loving God, when I am lost, thank you for finding me and bringing me back to you; and thank you for trusting and loving me at all times. Amen.
Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music
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