Monday, September 6, 2010

Gospel Text for Sunday, September 12th

Luke 15:1-10

All the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them."

So he told them this parable: "Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

"Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, `Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.' Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Questions for engaging the text:

- What do I observe" What am I seeing" Does this passage raise questions for me?
- Is anything attracting me, drawing my attention, or repulsing me?
-What response is emerging within me? What is my response to what is attracting me?***
-In what ways might I specifically act on my insights in the world
I really want to hear from you. Thank you for clicking on "Comments" below and adding your responses.
Grace and Peace, Debra

*** 1st three questions taken from The Art of Engaging Holy Scripture curriculum (see resources)


  1. Luke 15.1-10 Parables of lost sheep and coin

    I observe that once again Jesus responded to the Pharisees and scribes grumblings by telling parables designed to upset the status quo. Jesus’ choice to use two people with no social or religious status (shepherd and woman) to be the ‘stars’ of his stories was bold and challenging. He dared to ask the grumbling officials if they would not be like the shepherd and the woman!

    I find this very attractive. In the parable of the lost sheep the shepherd put everything he had on the line in order to save a single sheep. It was a monumental decision. Ninety-nine sheep were very valuable to a poor Palestinian shepherd. To maintain order in his life, he had to account for every one. Still he chose to risk the ninety-nine for the sake of one vulnerable sheep. It was a profoundly political act.

    With this parable Jesus was applying social pressure on the people who represented the established order. He was cajoling them, even daring them to part ways with the social and religious order of their day. He was calling them to action, challenging them to decide to reorder their lives in favor of merciful relationships.

    Jesus wanted the large crowd that was traveling with him as well as the Pharisees and scribes to know that the way of God is not the way of the established order. The way of God’s kingdom is the way of interdependent and merciful relationships.

    Which makes me wonder. Am I willing to set aside the things I cling to (my version of ninety-nine sheep) to look for what is lost? Am I really more interested in the quality of peoples’ actions and the nature of our relationships than in individual titles, power and wealth? And do I pray for God’s grace and guidance to open my eyes to see how I am called to be the hands and heart of God’s mercy in my community.

  2. Debra points out that the "stars of (these) stories" are types of persons who upset the normal picture of God: God is like a marginalized person! Furthermore, I see that both are desperate seekers, looking for what is lost with an earnestness born of their very critical need. These are not things whose loss can be endured without great cost to the seeker. This is God seeking the lost: desperately, earnestly, zealously. God is not waiting for the lost to come to a place where she/he will be found. God is going into the places where the lost are. And God is still doing it: searching out and recovering the lost parts of my soul; going ahead of me into those places where ones I want found are and calling to them (recall "The Hound of Heaven" by Francis Thompson?). God is seeking, desperately seeking. It is time to begin rejoicing in anticipation of the certain finding.