October 2019  
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9-15 Sermon

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son to redeem and restore sinners to a right relationship with you. Through the power of your HOLY SPIRIT, help us to realize that we, have been redeemed only because of your saving grace. Please take from us any arrogance or pride in our self-accomplishments and please help us to treat others as you have treated us. This we pray in Jesus holy name. Amen.

 

Our Gospel today tells how Jesus associated with the tax collectors and sinners and the Pharisees and the scribes didn’t like it one bit. So Jesus tells the parable of looking for the lost sheep. And when it’s found, he carries it rejoicing. Then he uses the illustration of the woman who lost a coin and would light a lamp, sweep the house, looking everywhere until she found it. Then she called her friends and neighbors, saying, ’Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost. Even so, I tell you, Jesus says, there’s joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner repenting."

 

God is joyful when one sinner who is lost is found. loves us by the shear power of His love with no conditions attached. The shepherd and the woman looked for the lost sheep and coin. The lost sheep, the lost coin does not come looking for the shepherd or the woman.

There’s them, and there’s us, depending on who you are and what you consider important. Liberals and conservatives. Union and non-union. Young and old. Rich and poor. Married and single. Believers and non-believers.

The labels may change from time to time, but it’s still them and us—they and we. For the Pharisees and Scribes in the Gospel today, “them” was the tax collectors and sinners. The label or category isn’t the issue, it’s how we look at others and how we regard them and think about them—either for the better or for worse. To Jesus, we are all the same. All of us created by him and all of us are lost in sin. All of us need to be rescued. All of us wanted as His children. And so He comes searching for us and He does not give up. His desire to find us is so great, that He searches in all the places we like to hide.

Have you ever asked yourself the question: how can I be of such value to him? How can I bring Him such joy when he finds me? Even the angels and all the company of heaven share his joy and delight. There are two things going on here. First is the truth of how Jesus regards us, and the length He is willing to go for us - death on the cross--that we be forgiven. You’ve heard it over and over again. But somehow we need to hear it often. Then he second thing is Jesus’ joy in finding us. The whole Gospel of Luke is written about and to believers. The lost and found parables are about believers being found.

Maybe you think you’re just another person, just another sinner among 7.7 billion people on this planet. Not so. Jesus wants you, just as if you’re the only person.

Shortly after WWII, a West German couple rescued an orphan. He was in rags, very dirty and starving; his shoes barely held together with huge holes in the soles. When the couple took him in, they gave him new clothes, but they kept the battered shoes as a reminder of how he was when they found him. When the boy complained or became unruly, the shoes were taken out to remind him of how much they had done for him. The boy was ashamed, and even felt unwanted.

Our God doesn’t drag out the rags of our sinful past to remind us of what He has done for us, to keep us as his children. It is the power of His love that brings us into his arms. It is the power of his love that leads us to eternal salvation. It is the power of his love through the death and resurrection of Jesus that changes our lives.

The Pharisees and the Scribes just didn’t get it. Why would Jesus eat with the likes of them? Why would He care about them at all? We’re the good guys, he should rejoice in us! And Jesus did want to rejoice in them too. No labels or categories, just sinners in need of forgiveness.

In the Epistle reading today, we heard Paul say: CHRIST Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst. Paul considered himself the chief sinner of sinners. But Jesus wanted him, and rejoiced over him and that made Paul rejoice in Jesus.

As it was for Paul, then also for you and me, because sin is sin and it separates us from God. To Jesus you are that sheep, or coin, or the prodigal daughter, or son that He desperately wants to find, and forgive; someone He desperately wants in heaven. And then there is rejoicing with the angels, and with all who receive this forgiveness.