on ‘lostness’, and being found…

(Reflections on three parables of Jesus in Luke chapter 15)

 When it comes right down to it, “lostness”, in Luke’s gospel, is about being found.  In other words, it’s about grace!

And it’s about celebration: celebration which draws everyone around into it.

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 Something’s going on, here in Luke’s gospel.  The writer has a wide range of stories to work with, as he draws together HIS story of Jesus: stories drawn from decades of oral sayings and traditions.  The three parables which form what we now call chapter 15, tell us a whole lot about how Luke sees Jesus, and the realm of heaven to which he points constantly.

Three stories: one about a farmer who finds his sheep… one about a woman who finds her coin…  and the BIG one!   One of the parables that only Luke tells.  It’s the story of the father who welcomes home his wayward son, and the brother who doesn’t.

Putting the three together helps us reflect on what each might have to say.

For example, it helps us to see that each has a touch of the crazy about it!!

 “Think of it like this” says Jesus.  G.O.D. is like a farmer who loses a sheep.  He leaves the rest to go looking for it”.

Why would you DO that? The risk is too great that you might end up losing more sheep.  But in Jesus’s story, the one is valued   (In those days, it probably had a name!)

And when it’s found, the farmer goes a little bit crazy and gets all his mates to celebrate with him  (I wonder if they killed a fatted calf? Probably not, that suggests a net loss on the deal).

 “or try this one says Jesus…   G.O.D. is like a woman (yes, really…) who loses a coin.  She turns her house upside down searching until she finds it.

Then, she too contacts all her friends and neighbours: “Rejoice with me, I’ve found the coin that I lost”.

(Facebook just doesn’t have the same excitement level, does it?)

“Or this one…”   And he goes on to tell the third story, the one about the father’s incredible delight at the return of his son.  He wants everyone to celebrate with him, and is bemused when his other son gets all huffy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When it comes right down to it, “lostness” in Luke’s gospel, is about being found.

 In other words, it’s about grace!

 And it’s about celebration: celebration which draws everyone around into it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“You want to know what G.O.D. is like?” asks Jesus.

Well G.O.D. is deeply interested in celebrating people who turn (“repent”, if you like) to living as if the realm of G.O.D. is among us.  Here and now.

 This excitement is not simply because someone gets into heaven when they die, it’s because heaven gets into them while they live!

This comment by theologian John Dominic Crossan says it well, for my money. (I know I’ve put it up here before,but it’s an important insight)

Picture1I’m not denying life beyond this one here.  I don’t know what happens on the other side of death, and am content with that mystery in G.O.D.

What I am saying is that Jesus, in Luke, is just as interested, maybe more so, in what happens on this side of death as the other: in people encountering the way of G.O.D. – love, hope, generous spirit, in celebrating this together, not only for ourselves, but for others too.

The celebration is as important as the finding.

Because when it comes down to it, ‘lostness’, in the gospel, is about being found.

In other words, it’s about grace.

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