Loretta Tyson sent me this small story last day. It is about a little boy who went to Grandma’s house for dinner. Grandma served the dinner and little Johnny started eating. Then his mommy came by and said, Johnny, you got to pray before you eat. He responded saying, no mom. Mom insisted that he has to. And we do always pray at home before meals. Johnny responded, mom, that is at our house. We are at Grandma’s house. And she knows how to cook.
Yes, we are at the grandma’s house now. We are in the house of the Lord who knows how to prepare the best food in the world. On this Rally day all of our goblins, elfs and angels are back from summer rest. I pray our parents are eager to get them to church on time and get them to be found.
I have a question for you all parents. Suppose you lost one of your children in the wilderness and you are left with three others and no one else to care for the three, would you go about looking for the one who is lost out there? Be truthful. Would you? if not why not?
This is the strange paradox of Christian life. Often, it’s more about being lost than found. It’s more about feeling incomplete than whole. It’s more about feeling excluded than included, because many of us live in those places most of the time. (Edward Beck, The Joy of Being Lost and Found)
We feel excluded many times for some reason and not included. That is why God prepares the meal day after day, to convince us over and over, it is alright to come to the table. God knows how to cook a good meal and is fully aware of who we are. When Christ invites us to dine with him, there is no need for security prayers, but trust that Jesus has done it right when he invited all of humanity to dine with him. No one is lost in the crack or wilderness of human making when it comes to the table of God.
According to some God goes into the extreme behavior which is ‘foolhardiness’ they say. It is not something a person with the best sense would do in the human world, they argue. May be That is why we are not Gods. Because God takes risks in love and relationship. Here is ‘foolhardy’ action of God going out of normal scared human behavior to bring home a point that when God invites humanity to share life with God, he will go to the extremes risking the rest. There is nothing foolhardy about acting in deep love for the other. We are taught over and over love has boundaries. We have gotten used to the idea love is with boundaries. We fail to believe love surpasses all boundaries.
This very act of God is what I call The Divine Repentance. In the book of Exodus we read today that God repented. What is this repentance all about? It is not the mourning and groaning over what filthy creatures we are, but rejoicing-ly coming out of our hiding places. It allowing the other to find us in places where we are.
Most of us are lost most of the time. Then there are lot of us who pretend that they not lost at all. They seem to have found God and all of God’s glory and grace. Good for them. But for me, am still muddling through my moments of anxiety, fear, loss, anger and exclusion and needs someone to help me come out into the light and be found.
To those who are listening I like to say, we are all lost one way or another. But we are still within the reach of God as God has no qualms about taking risk when it comes to love. But for ourselves we need to figure out what is the kind of loss we are in. What is the kind of risk are we willing to take.
There are four ways a person can get lost according to the Bible. One is lost like a coin, lost for no choice of its own. It is somewhere under the table waiting to be found. Then there is the sheep that is lost wandering without having the sense to know better. Then there are some of us who have wandered away knowingly, choosing to do things otherwise, experimenting and exploring. It took real life to figure out there is more to life than just being on our own in our own devices. Then there is a brother who chooses self-righteousness and hatred on his path to being lost.
Which is the story you are playing out in your life now? Are you lost for no fault of yours? If yes, then it is time to grow up and seek ways to be found. Are you lost because you don’t know better? Then it is time to learn. Are you lost because you have chosen to? Then only you can choose to return. But if you are lost because of self-righteousness and hatred, then you need lot more grace than we can help you with. God needs to come to your rescue. Try now.
Repentance is our willingness to be found by God. Repentance is not necessarily beating our chest every morning and crying out in fear for the mercy of God. Found by God when we were crawling deeper into the hole.
God allowed mankind to find him. God allowed mankind to change his heart, to see the soft side in God that could be influenced by a weakling mankind. God let man reform divine behavior.
Today’s call is about us allowing someone or something greater than us to reform our behavior. It is keeping the fear out of the way to allow grace to flow. IT allowing God to change our behavior in today’s world. That is repentance.
Brit Nicole has a beautiful song
Hello my friend
I remember when you were
So alive with your wide eyes
Then the light that you had in your heart was stolen
Now you say that it ain’t worth stayin’
You wanna run but you’re hesitatin’
I’m talkin’ to me
Don’t let your lights go down
Don’t let your fire burn out
’cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
Why don’t you rise up now?
Don’t be afraid to stand out
That’s how the lost get found
The lost get found
So when you get the chance
Are you gonna take it?
There’s a really big world at your fingertips
And you know you have the chance to change it
There’s a girl on the streets, she’s cryin’
There’s a man whose faith is dyin’
Love is calling you
When love calls, it is time to return. For Love has risked everything to get you back into the house of plenty. The table is set. You are already found. Why not and enjoy the table set before you?