Looking and Sweeping, Sweeping and Looking

The following is only an excerpt of this sermon. The full sermon can be heard by clicking the audio link below.

Luke 15.1-10

Right at this moment there are 24 to 32 satellites circling the globe in medium earth orbit, that are linked together in a global navigational satellite system: GPS. Each of these satellites circle the earth and transmit continually messages that include the time and its precise location over the globe and the rough position of all the satellites in the system. And if you have the proper receiver, and if you are picked up by at least three satellites, it can tell you, within a meter, exactly where you are on the globe. It doesn’t matter what the weather is, it doesn’t matter what time it is, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a city or out in a desert, it doesn’t matter whether you’re hungry or laughing or sad, you can know exactly where you are. I think that’s pretty amazing.

Our technological prowess grows by leaps and bounds, but there are limitations. For example, this sophisticated GPS system cannot help me find my keys! When I am late and I need to rush out and people are waiting for me and I have to look for my keys I wish that there was some kind of technology that would tell me exactly where I left them. I wish there was some kind of technology that would tell me exactly where I am when I am feeling lost inside. Because more significantly than where I have lost my keys, and even more significantly than where I am on the globe, there are many times when I, and perhaps you too, feel lost on the inside.

We know, and if you turn on your GPS in your phone (which of course you’ve turned off for church, right?), but if you did turn it on it would tell you that you are right on the corner of 200 West and Center Street in Logan, Utah in the United States, North American continent. Latitude whatever it is.

But it will not tell you where you are inside. Maybe you are lost because you face a particularly difficult position or circumstance at work. Maybe you have a particularly huge task coming up and you need to cram a semester’s worth of knowledge in your head in two hours. You know for those unreasonable professors. Maybe, just maybe you’re struggling with a particularly challenging relationship in your life, where you can’t seem to find forgiveness or peace. Perhaps you’re not being heard, or perhaps you’re not able to hear the other. Maybe it’s because you’ve lost a job or don’t know how you’re going to pay for that MRI test. Perhaps you are looking for healing that doesn’t come or an elusive answer to a question that just sticks in your mind and will not go away. Maybe it’s because of a behavior that has turned into an addiction, or a pride that you can’t give up. Or a weakness that you can’t avoid.

Whatever it may be, there are too many things that pull us away from the path of joy and peace and wholeness, fulfillment and faithfulness. There are just too many things. And all of the sudden we look up in spirit and we know exactly where we are physically, but we look up and we say, “God. I’m lost. I’m wandering. Where, where am I?” There doesn’t seem to be any technological solution to our dilemma.

But we have come to this place this morning and Jesus has good news, words of good news for us today. In the first parable that we heard, the one about the lost sheep, the shepherd makes the irrational decision to leave 99 sheep in the wilderness at risk, to find the one that was lost. Now this shepherd doesn’t necessarily have a head for business. This shepherd does not bother taking out his calculator and figuring out that saving the 99 is worth more than losing the one. But logic is not what drives the shepherd. In the mind and heart of this shepherd is the inescapable desire to find the one who is lost. Only the desire exists in his heart to make his heard whole again. Foolish, though it may seem.

In the second parable involving the lost coin, the woman keeps looking and sweeping, sweeping and looking until she finds the coin. She does not stop to save oil in the lamp, she doesn’t wait until more light, she doesn’t take breaks to have a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, she doesn’t figure the lost coin will just turn up at some point. She keeps at it and at it and at it… sweeping and looking until that coin is found.

Thank God. Jesus says God is like that. And thank God because I am too often that one coin.

(To listen to the sermon in full, please click below)

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  • Lent in the Midst of COVID

    We’re in the church season of Lent, a time of journeying with Jesus as he makes his way to Jerusalem and to the cross.  In addition to Sunday worship services on YouTube we will be adding short mid-week Lenten devotions from Pastor Meg and myself (also available on YouTube).

     Last month Mary-Ann Muffoletto sent me a picture. She took a ‘screen shot’ of our most recent Zoom congregational meeting, and I’m thankful she thought to do this. This is the moment when we ordained and installed new elders and deacons to our church. This is usually a sacred moment of our worship together on Sunday mornings, a special time for those new deacons and elders and also for the congregation as these individuals step into leadership positions for us. We’re usually doing a “laying on of hands” at this moment, as we offer a prayer for these new officers. This last year Presbyterian churches around the country have doing this via Zoom, and here we are, lifting up our hands as a blessing for these church officers, as we lift them up to God in their new roles.

    The big thing on our mind in the church office and with Session is when will we be back in worship together? I don’t have an answer for you at the moment, but as more people receive vaccines and transmission rates continue to decrease in Utah and around the country, we get closer to that time. Two Session members have volunteered to work with Pastor Meg and myself on plans for when we get back into the building. Outdoor worship services in a park is also a possibility before we return to our church building. When we are back in the sanctuary and Bruner Hall together our plan is to record the service and make it available on YouTube for those who choose to continue worshiping from home.

    I want to close by sharing a few things with you about our building during this last year. You might think the building has been empty and unused, but I assure you this is not the case. While most of our activities have been put on hold, several things have been occurring in our building. Session approved Loaves & Fishes to serve take-away meals and that has been ongoing through much of the year. Additionally, numerous recovery programs (similar to AA) have been meeting throughout the year (for some people, being able to attend a sobriety meeting is a life and death matter). And finally, the Red Cross has been holding blood drives every month or so. Craig Mortensen passed along to me that Red Cross blood drives at FPC collected 490 units of blood in the last year. Most of these units even came from willing donors… (just kidding!). All of these activities have required people to wear masks and socially distance to prevent spread of COVID.

    It brings me great joy to think of how many people Loaves & Fishes has helped, how many people have continued their journeys of sobriety, and how many people were helped through blood donations in the last year. Each of these activities come with some risk of COVID transmission, but Session approved them because they are essential for certain members of our community. All of these happenings are possible because of the use of our church building. I thank all of you for your ongoing support of FPC Logan. I know we aren’t worshiping there, and many of us are anxious to be back in the sanctuary (I am too). Thank you for bearing with us and our cautious approach. Good things are indeed happening through use of our building and because of our collective journeys with Jesus Christ.

    Grace and peace be with you on your Lenten journey.

    Pastor Derek

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