Emmitsburg Council of Churches


The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke 15:1-10

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 15:2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them." 15:3 So he told them this parable: 15:4 "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? 15:5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 15:6 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.' 15:7 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. 15:8 "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? 15:9 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.' 15:10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

The Gospel of the Lord, Praise to You O Christ!

What's Lost??

In light of the lessons we have been given this morning, esp. i.e., Jesus' parable of the "Woman with the lost coin" and the Good Shepherd who seeks the one lost sheep . . . I would like to ask, "What are we missing in our lives?" or "What are we missing in the greater view of society in our day? What in the world have we lost?

Last night while getting into this idea I read a couple of short Internet articles that told about new possibilities for the Northwest Passage opening! . . . In fact, it's not just a possibility but it is almost a reality, it will actually be possible for ships to go from Norway to Japan in half the time it used to take them because they will have a more direct route through the Northwest Passage . . . that has never been done before--now it is possible!

So What's missing? The Ice; The Cold; The Questions about why this is now a possibility; The Implications about what's missing in this equation?

Where will all that traditional and historical Sea Ice Go? The Answer is to be Found in a Rise in Sea Level, perhaps by as much as three feet in time to come! (Within the lifetime for some of us!!)

I think maybe this whole train of thought may be applied to the Shepherd's passionate concern over the one lost sheep. Because the implications of global warming are calling to us for heroic efforts rather than laxidazical stupor! We need to leave the 99 and recklessly search for the one!! ---

We need to respond dramatically to the causes of the melting sea ice.

Perhaps at this point it is also instructive to consider the story of the woman who has lost her coin, because it is helpful to note that she finds it.

In fact, we know enough of the answers to the situation with global warming, we know we're primarily to blame for the rise in C02! We know we can do something about changing the way we generate electricity, we know we can build more gas efficient cars and trucks, we can do much more with clean and green energy production.

In essence, in terms of global warming, "We've found the coin!"

But we're not celebrating or acting on what we have found! We have not called over our friends to celebrate with us now that we know what to do with what we lost. We're not even making much of an effort to change the way we've always done things. It's like, in spite of knowing how precious the coin is (anyone like clean air? Beach front property? Clean flowing streams . . .does anyone feel concerned about droughts, floods, erradic weather?), instead we're just blowing it off. "No big deal, found that coin a million times–who cares . . . hey, man we're cool -- live and let live."

Jesus would awaken us from this kind of blaise' attitude! Jesus does not accept anything less than heroics. The Good Shepherd would get up and get to work if he knew what needed doing! There would be no discounting answers, no apathy would be present! The Good Shepherd knew what he cared about and he went right out and went looking for it.

Now, in our illustration of global warming, because we are afraid of what we found, we're not going back out to rescue the one lamb wandering in the wilderness. We're not seriously taking action to remedy this problem of global warming (the lost sheep), which is about to fall into the sea like that sea ice now sliding down the coasts of Greenland at an unprecedented rate of 7' per hour (!~!), nearly three times the rate of just five years ago. http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20070912/wl_csm/opray_1

Oh my, our sheep is lost and we're not abandoning the 99 to go after the one! No not at all!! In fact, we're not abandoning the 99 to seek after the one because we are too distracted with the chaos we have stirred up elsewhere in the world! This is the really sad part of who we are, perhaps if we were to speak in the true Biblical tradition we would say of ourselves, "Woe is me, for I am undone, for I have abandoned my responsibility as a shepherd of all that was entrusted to me to care for. And I have squandered my wealth on that which is not bread, and I have turned my enemies against me and now the earth itself is avenging me for my egregious sins!"

Alas, if this were only our attitude. If only we would see the lesson of the Good Shepherd who temporarily takes leave of his senses and disciplines himself to a single focus . . . he forsakes the 99 to follow after the one and rescue it from peril. And when he finds that lost lamb, with all of his passion, he gently picks it up and places it on his shoulders. Whatever dangers he may have faced in the effort to go and find it -- (We always envision the shepherd climbing out onto some ledge or high precipace . . . he does something daring and seemingly foolish to save the lost lamb) all is worth the effort expended. It is principle over matter.

Then upon retrieving this helpless animal, the Shepherd is willing to reenter the danger as he journey's home. Perhaps some of that danger is superceded by what enters into our minds, such as the idea of ridicule. What will the town's people think as you enter with your pathetic lamb? What will your friends and coworkers call you when you announce your intentions to live more harmoniously with the earth? "There's that foolish shepherd!" "He" (or She) was so dumb, that he/she abandoned what appears to be a prosperous industry. Now he or she is not living like there is wealth to be had in this life . . . of poor family – forsook the whole herd (!) just to go after that silly little lamb!"

Who among us will take action to solve global warming?

Why won't we do something heroic to do less harm to the earth and its creatures? Why do we discount even the small things we can easily do to change the way things are going? Is it because of shame or fear of ridicule? Or do we only care about the larger part of the herd (our bank account or our prestige or standing in the community (our homeowners association!!!)??

And we don't really value the smaller part, the lamb. "It's just a bunch of useless sea ice!" It's just a few degrees hotter, a little less or more rain (all at once!) A few less polar bears and other creatures we'll never see anyway here in Maryland."

Little do we realize that it can be the one little lamb who has the genetics to improve the herd. Or the one straggly looking lamb who has is immune to a spreading virus (remember Jacob's dealings with his father-in-law? -–see Genesis 30:31-42). Or the one lamb that has more character that the rest. We don't always know why the Good Shepherd in Jesus parable values the one to the endangerment of the rest of the herd. We just know that the Shepherd's heart is stirred. He becomes captivated with saving the one. He turns his attention away from anything that will hinder the mission and he goes!

But perhaps the final solution to all that Jesus prompts for us in this parable is in the matter of the heart. Do you and I have passion for God? Do we have the heart of God who does not forsake anyone no matter who they are?

Do we find it within ourselves to care for the small people in the world the quiet manners of nature that makes little sound when it is suffering? Can we embrace the heart of the God of the Universe who shows this extraordinary example of heroic caring? This is why Jesus was telling the parable. Christ is looking for people who are passionate about life!

Because even beyond global warming, which is the lost lamb of our day, You and I matter to God. You and I are the objects of his ultimate concern and passion.

And it is over you and I that God either weeps or Rejoices when we turn from ourselves. When we hear his voice over the rest of the world's voices clamoring for our attention. Jesus says, "Come to me all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest! Find yourselves in me, and then go to do the work of the kingdom. Use your wisdom with what you know, do good, heal humanity, heal the earth. Live your life with a sense of vitality!"

This is the Voice of the Good Shepherd who forsook the glory set before him and humbled himself to become the Savior of the World. He's looking for fellow shepherds to assist with the flock. And indeed the flock is complex!! There is a desperate need for some of us to become scientists and understand the implications of our footprint on the earth. Others of us need to become social workers to heal and protect the lost sheep of the human family. Others of us need to become teachers so that our young people can grow up to become scientists and law enforcement officers and Pastors and Presidents.

All of us need to see where we're lost and find ourselves even as we are to be found in the Love of God.

And so . . . may we be like the Good Shepherd who searches without shame. May we be like the woman who sweeps her house until she finds what she is looking for. And when we come to realize we have found what was lost, then may we bring ourselves back to God to give thanks. May we call our neighbors, family and friends to come and celebrate with us.. .

This soul of mine was lost, but I have now been found! This earth of ours was being destroyed by ignorance and greed, but we now are going to reverse the harm done! Rejoice with me, declare a feast, We're going to do the work of God and bring peace and Goodness into all the land. Thanks be to God Amen and Amen!

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