My church has a sign out front where a member of the congregation puts out the title of our sermons each week. This sign is on a very busy corner and I have found that it creates in me a strong desire to be clever and witty in preferably five words or less because just maybe one day - ONE DAY - someone will walk in and say, "I came to church today because I HAD to hear what that sermon title was all about."
I know, I know... it will never happen. But still, it's there. One of the challenges I have is that the more clever the title is, the harder time I have writing the sermon. I get so caught up in the title, I struggle with the sermon. This was very true for "Snakes on a Plain." (No, I did not use the famous quote in the sermon.)
It was even more true for this past Sunday where I admittedly picked the title to give a nod to the neighbors
that yes, we had a sinkhole and we can be good natured about it. But when you already have coins and sheep, as this past week's passage from Luke did, the greater part of valor may have been to skip the sinkhole reference all together (maybe the sheep and coin were in the sinkhole? No.)
So I managed to shove the sinkhole reference into the sermon, but I need to be a little more careful about picking titles from now on:
I’ve learned some things about circles this past couple of weeks, or to be more specific I’ve learned some things about big holes in the ground. Did you know that in order
to fix a sinkhole, the radius of the hole must be extended out by three feet all around. Basically, the larger the circle, the better the stability.
In these parables Jesus is saying the same thing, the larger we extend the circle, the better the stability of the community, and even beyond that – a reason to rejoice, to celebrate, to dance at the reunion of God’s beloved children.
In these stories what no longer matters is how the lost got lost; what is to be celebrated is that they are now found –
the tax collectors,
the pastor with the strange ideas,
the son or daughter who can’t seem to pull their life together,
the brother or sister who disappoints,
the sheep who wanders off,
the coin that rolls out of sight,
the too small,
and yes, even you…
and yes, even me…
We are all invited to the Celebration of Being Found.
It is this table where we know God has finally and completely found us.
And what we’d better say out loud is, “Thanks be to God… thanks be to God.”
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.