In the Lectionary

September 11, Ordinary 24C (Luke 15:1–10)

Sometimes in ministry you lose precious things.

“Find your way back, don’t let this life drive you crazy,” sings Beyoncé. “Find your way back, come back home ’fore the street lights on.”

There’s nothing like the confusion you experience when you find yourself lost in a familiar place. It takes a minute for your mind to embrace the realization, and sometimes it takes your ego even longer. You don’t know where you are—but there were enough markers along the way that seemed so familiar that by the time the truth arrives to set you free you’ve been lost longer than you care to admit. In these moments it’s best to take a deep breath, pull over to a safe place, and get some directions to guide you to your proper destination.

In this week’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells a story about the reclamation of lost things and the celebration that happens when that which was lost makes it to its proper destination. A wandering sheep and a devoted shepherd. A lost coin and a determined woman. In both stories Jesus points out to his detractors among the religious leaders that there is value in seeking out and returning precious things once lost—and due cause for public celebration once lost things have been found. If this is true for sheep and coins, then how much more warranted is the rejoicing for sinners who turn from their errant path and make their way back home to God?