The Lost, The Found

On September 20, 2016 by saintlukesgresham

Deacon Laurel Hart

I’d lost it – to say I was frustrated and disappointed is an understatement. It was only a neck scarf and an inexpensive one at that – but it was one of my favorites, which I wore frequently – almost year round. When I reached for it in my closet, I was surprise to find it missing from the rack. I could remember packing it for a trip. But where had I left it? In a restaurant? At the home of a family member? I looked high and low, in various bags and other closets in our house. Then when I’d almost given up hope – it made its appearance in the most unexpected place. I was relieved and happy. I imagine that everyone here has a similar experience and story – we can relate to the joy which the women felt when she finds her lost coin. After all, my lost was only a small material item – maybe I was a little too attached to it. The woman in this passage – well this might be a different story – those were different times and maybe this was money needed to provide the basics of life for her family. It seems the pain we feel at losing a material possession might have little relationship with its monetary value – more to do with our emotional attachments or the memories which the item represents.

Recently the City of Portland took steps to remove the campers who’ve made portions of the Springwater Trail their camping home for the last several months. As I watch TV news coverage showing the clean-up crews, removing the vast quantity of possessions which were left by the campers – bikes, make shift trailers, tents, tarps, picnic coolers, water containers, cooking equipment, clothes, sleeping bags, children’s toys and various necessities of daily life abandoned by those individuals who’d been told to move on – I was stuck by the how disoriented, confused and lost these people must feel – losing their temporary home and now their possessions. The reasons for the homelessness in our community are unique to people impacted, so varied and complex – the solutions are equally complex. I was reminded of the lost sheep of which Jesus spoke. It seems like many of these people are some of the lost sheep of this time and place. In this parable, our Lord is eating with the so called “outcasts” of his time. Just as the religious leaders of his time felt discomfort with the nearness of these persons, labeled as unclean, we too experience feelings of discomfort when we are forced to see and interact with the homeless. We don’t like to be reminded that for some of us “there except for the grace of God go I”. I can remember years in my life, times of low wages, months of unemployment and unpaid obligation – fear of the next phone call from a bill collector or having the lights turned off. Today, I can only imagine that Jesus is crying tears of pain wanting to find these lost sheep. Jesus calls us to open our eyes, to sweep and search in the dark corners, to find the lost sheep, to have compassion, to render aid, but mostly to be open and ready with love as he himself loved all lost sheep.

I would venture a guess that everyone present today, has been a lost sheep at some time in our life. In this community, we’ve shared our stories about lost jobs, lost homes, lost children, and lost marriages, lost friends, lost physical and mental health. Some of our stories are just too private and painful to share –maybe only God knew when we were lost. But this is the good news – Jesus will also be on the hunt for us when were lost, feeling disconnected, scared and lonely –Jesus is always on the hunt for us. At certain times we be might be found on a wandering path by a stranger who walks for a season with us – wasn’t that really Jesus? Our job as lovers of Jesus, is be watchful and ready to open our hearts to other lost sheep. To make them welcome on the first day they walk through those red doors and to help them see that this can be a place of sanctuary, of warmth and safety for them as it is for us.

Today at the end of this service we are going to gather at the community labyrinth. We’re going to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of this sacred space with some words of remembrance, prayers of thanksgiving and sharing of the healing atmosphere created by presence of the sacred Holy One. Occasionally, members of the labyrinth guild share with the community, vie. email, some of the words which walkers of the labyrinth have written in the book at the kiosk. These words tell stories of the pain of losses, of dark fears being held within constricted chests. Stories are also shared about the illnesses both physical and mental of loved one carried as aching burdens in their hearts. Reflections are shared about the connection to God and the peace which many individuals have found walking and praying here. The beauty of Mt. Hood lifting upward toward heaven points us to God who is no doubt rejoicing to see the lost sheep walking the path to healing and hope. This is surely a pasture where the lost sheep can be found and wrapped in a welcoming embrace of our Lord and savior, sweet Jesus. Amen.

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