Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Have you ever been lost? I remember learning when I was young that if you ever get lost or separated from your parents, you should stay where you are. If your parents were looking for you, they could find you more easily if you weren’t also looking for them. Being lost is lonely and scary, and it could also be dark and cold, depending on where or how you are lost. Can you imagine being lost and not having anyone looking for you? It would be worse still if you were lost and someone decided you weren’t important enough to look for.
The Pharisees seem to believe that the people they perceive as sinners are not worth Jesus’ time. They seem to believe that Jesus should spend his time only with the righteous. What they do not realize is that when they define other people as sinners to be avoided, they become sinners themselves. Fortunately for them, Jesus eats with sinners and welcomes sinners to his table!
I cannot imagine how it would feel to know that someone who loved or cared for me decided not to search for me if I were lost, simply because they had ninety-nine others they loved too. Fortunately, Jesus never gives up on us when we become lost.
We all get lost sometimes—physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Jesus tells us not to give up on those we deem sinners. Jesus tells us not to judge those who are lost as sinners, but instead to seek them out, invite them to the table, and share a meal with them. Whatever our place in life, we can become lost too. If we believe we deserve to be found, forgiven, or redeemed, then it is the least we can do for other lost souls as well.
Jamie Almquist, pastor
Glenwood Moravian Church, Madison, Wisconsin