Lost but Found
We are Called to Worship
Chris led us in rejoicing for God having rescued us from the wilderness and having swept away the darkness, bringing joy to us all.
Hymn TIS 143 "Immortal, invisible, God only wise" Exuberance generated by our wonder at God's might among everything that exists.
We pray, offering God praise and adoration Chris led us in praise for God's creative power; for God's justice; for God's continual searching after us; for the gift of Jesus. - greater and more precious than any other possible.
We pray, honestly and openly confessing
We confessed to the gap between what we confess to believe and the way we behave, acting as though the world is ours, not God's; as though the church is ours to run as we like instead of according to God's will; as though we are supreme, demanding obedience from others instead of submitting to God.
Chris: The steadfast love of The Lord never ceases, God's mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning.
In the name of the Lord, who is our portion and our hope, I declare that our sin is forgiven.
May our mouths be filled with praise.
We Listen for a Word of God
In the scriptures Jeremiah 4: 11 - 12, 22 - 28; Luke 15: 1 - 10. Jeremiah tells of mourning over the world that was desolate because everyone had turned away. But God says He will not make a final end to it all. In Luke people were complaining because Jesus was associating with the not-so-respectable citizens but he pulled them up short by making it clear that there is great joy in bringing home the lost.
As we reflect Chris spoke about the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin which were used by Jesus in the account read from Luke, to turn the thinking of the people upside down. Chris explained that the thinking of the Pharisees and Scribes was that their function was to protect those who appeared to be living "holy" lives - living according to the law - and exclude those who weren't, so they could not contaminate the rest of society. However, in the crowd listening to Jesus, drawn by His welcoming attitude and message were many of these outcasts and, worse still, Jesus socialized with them and even ate with them, breaking all the rules of the Jewish faith.
The Pharisees and Scribes didn't take kindly to this, and protested but Jesus told them of the shepherd who left the 99 safe sheep and searched for the lost one and then of the woman who searched her house until she found one lost coin. All the shepherd's sheep were precious to him. All the woman's coins were needed. And so it is with us and God. We are all precious to Him and we are all needed in His natural word and in His spiritual kingdom. We are loved by our creator.
But Chris alerted us to another message. The one the Pharisees and Scribes, particularly, needed to hear. As committed Christians we are sure of our place in the kingdom and rightly so, but we need to be careful about our attitude to people we might perceive as being outside the kingdom. God's love knows no bounds.
Our task is clear. "How can we open up an experience of God's nonjudgmental love to those around us"
On a personal note, I spent some years away from fellowship with God and it was the willingness of someone who really had no responsibility for me, to take time to listen to me and talk with me, that ensured I made the journey back. I was pursuing God - I thought. The truth of the matter was that He was hanging on to me and I was responding to the annoyance (at the time) of that constant prickling that wouldn't let me be comfortable.
We begin Responding to God's Word
Hymn TIS 129 "Amazing Grace" "I once was lost, but now am found". Peace, security, fulfillment, quiet.
Our offerings were then received. God blesses us mightily. It is only proper that we should return some of this for His service.
We Pray Chris led us and we responded, "hear our prayer".
Chris led us in praying for the ability to search for the lost; for being willing to go into areas where we may not be comfortable. Chris prayed for those who have not heard the good news, that our lives will speak of it to them. He prayed for those who feel abandoned and the troubled, that they will find peace. He prayed for those that mourn or whose families are broken that they will find the comfort of God's presence.
Then we prayed as we have been taught, the Lord's Prayer.
Hymn TIS 456 "We head out to seek the missing" A comment on the parables Chris spoke of, "And when you find the drifter, The one alone and cold, You take it to your shoulder; Return it to the fold."
We are Charged
We have a choice.
We can stand on the margins of the feast,
grumbling about the other guests,
or we can join in the dance of seeking and
saving, feeding and being fed.
May the Creator's holiness burn away our complacency.
may the Living Word expose our foolishness,
may the Spirit of mercy turn us home,
that God's grace might spill from our Iives,
giving hope to a perishing world.
Amen. Amen. Amen.