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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  • Courageous Ministry

    Dear Friends,

    I hope this month’s edition of the Pulse finds you and your loved ones navigating life and faith with as much grace and self-compassion as possible. I know that some in our community have welcomed summer as a time to travel with family and friends, and to be reunited with loved ones. Others continue to struggle with health issues, isolation, and anxiety about the resurgence of Covid with the Delta variant. In the immortal words of Paul to the Romans, as a community, we “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” There is a chair or pew here on Sunday mornings for people in all seasons of life, and an open door to my office for any burdens (or celebrations) to be shared. I hope that you will join us or tune in via livestream on August 8th when I incorporate a compassion ritual in our worship services, to mark the lingering impact of Covid on the lives of God’s people everywhere. 

    Whether you have been in Bruner Hall often this summer, or it has been some time since you’ve walked through the doors of FPC, I want to share with you some happenings that I celebrate as we continue to serve faithfully as an inclusive community of faith and compassion at FPC Logan. Since the beginning of Pastor Derek’s sabbatical on June 1st, we welcomed four guest preachers who shared the Good News with us, from Scriptures ranging from Genesis to the Gospels, from Ezekiel to Ephesians. Two of these preachers are women who I’ve had the privilege of mentoring as ministers in the ordination process with the Presbyterian Church in Utah. At summer’s end, we will welcome two additional preachers to share in our worship life, and I will conclude my ongoing spiritual disciplines sermon series later this month. 

    This summer, FPC has been home to Loaves & Fishes and a series of Red Cross Blood Drives. In June, our middle schoolers organized and delivered a supplies drive for Cache Humane Society, with two middle schoolers traveling to American Fork Canyon for a reservoir clean-up with presbytery peers. Eight high schoolers from FPC Logan traveled with me to Denver, where we served with Habitat for Humanity for four days, offering a total of 22 hours of service each. In two weeks, we will gather at Stokes Nature Center for earth care efforts. The Mission Committee is gearing up to prepare us for another Mission Sunday at FPC this fall. I learned that just this week, the Sew n’ Sews prepared a large shipment of homemade sanitary pads to benefit our neighbors in Ethiopia. Beth MacDonald and Barbara Troisi have been busy processing Deacon’s Fund applications to provide for the safety and welfare of neighbors here in Cache Valley. Barbara and Dorothy Jones visited our neighbors at Williamsburg with Cache Ministries in early July. Truly, there is no summer break in the ministry of FPC Logan! 

    In their meetings in June and July, your session has thoughtfully and prayerfully navigated decisions about worship safety precautions, knowing that there is no “right answer” about how to be the Church in a pandemic. Even among our Presbyterian churches in Utah, there is no uniform approach to worship in these strange days. We are discerning together, and the updated policy you received this week is the session’s most current discernment of how FPC Logan can be both a welcoming and safe house of worship for every beloved child of God, from the under 12 to the most senior among us. In electing the elders to serve on session, you covenant to pray for them and to abide by their decision-making. I hope and pray that you will continue to do both in the coming days and weeks.  

    Earlier this week, acknowledging the presence and concern of the Delta variant, the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, challenged us, the people of the Church, to “wait on the Lord and be of good courage.” Courage has many faces in Scripture and in our society today, but I am drawn to this Sunday’s passage from John in which the crowd went looking for Jesus. When they find him, Jesus instructs them to work for the food that endures for eternal life and reminds them that he is the bread of life. As we take up the charge to be of good courage, I hope that together, as a church community, we will be on the lookout for Jesus, the bread of life. I expect him to surprise us and challenge us, as he always does with his faithful followers in Scripture, the disciples and friends who want to do as Jesus does in the world. You will find him here at FPC Logan, whether we worship in Bruner or the Sanctuary, with or without masks, and you will find him in the community to which we are called as partners in ministry. Come and behold that God is doing a new thing in this place, if we only have the courage to answer the call, to work for the food that endures, and to fix our sight on Jesus, the bread of life. 

    In Christ’s promises,

    Pastor Meg

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