Sunday I took out my reading glasses as part of the sermon. Then I used them at the altar. I used them as I recessed down the aisle while singing the final hymn. This was the last time I used them. It felt great to see with such clarity and new vision. Then I have no idea what I did with them.
I spent more time than I’d like to admit scouring the church for them – in the sanctuary, the sacristy, the fellowship hall, my office, just about anywhere I had been. Nope. Not there.
My wife looked all over the house searching for them as well (as if she didn’t have anything better to do!): in my dresser, my closet, the pair of pants I wore Sunday, my jacket, the ledge by the door, in the couch, the nightstand, anywhere she thought I had gone. Nope. Not in any of those places either.
We went so far as to exchange several text messages…
“Did you look…?”
“Yep, I looked there.”
“Have you searched…?”
“Yes, I’ve been in that room twice.”
“Did you try…?”
“No, I haven’t checked there yet!”
“…Sorry, not there either.”
Hmm. This is a growing mystery. The only thing left to do is keep looking.
It reminds me of a story Jesus told…
“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light the 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.” (Luke 15:8-10)
I’ve heard this story many times. Maybe you have too. I’ve always thought about it in terms of the result. Someone repents, and that is like the woman finding her coin. Great! I’ve experienced the release of what it means to repent and have seen it in others. I hope you have too. I have found things and celebrated with friends when they found something that was lost. Maybe you have joined in that kind of celebration.
Once my friend lost his wallet – for what seemed like weeks. He cancelled his credit cards, searched his house, and looked through our apartment (where we lived at the time) looking for it. He all but gave up. Then we had some friends spend the night and we found it in the pull-out sofa. We had a little fun with my friend at first – our overnight guests pranked called him under an alias saying they found the wallet and to call them back but hung up before leaving a number. When my friend came over for dinner, we all had a good laugh as our guests (we have all been good friends now for years) handed him his wallet. The look on his face was priceless, and we did indeed repent after sharing our story. There was joy and celebration and lots of laughter. What was lost was found. It brought us together.
This time however, having lost my glasses without finding them yet, I see (no pun intended) a whole other side to this little parable. Perhaps the result of finding the coin is not this story’s purpose. Perhaps it is the diligence to keep looking. Maybe, there is more to gain from this story that Jesus tells us, than simply to reflect that God has found us and isn’t that a sweet deal. Maybe it says more about God who never stops looking, never stops turning things over, looking in dark places, looking under the furniture, pulling out the cushions, walking back into the same room again and again with the off-chance that maybe this time will be different, this time that coin will show its sparkle and the phone calls and celebrations can begin. We make a game of it; we like to poke each other’s soft spots at one another’s expense for a laugh. Even when we are good sports about it (and my friend on the receiving end of this one is a person that loves a good prank), we seem to miss the central message – it is not about the finding, it is about the searching. We so often say that God knows everything, but what might it mean for us that God is always sweeping around the corners looking for us too? What might that say about us as we join that mission in the world? What might that say about where we look for God at work in the world? Maybe we should focus less on the finding, and spend more and energy on the looking. Hmm. To continue looking sounds good to me. If only I could find my glasses…
Peace, Pastor Geoff
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but risen!” (Luke 24:5)