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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  • After all this time…

    Well, this is it my fellow followers of Jesus, we are returning to in-person worship at First Presbyterian Church. It has been fourteen long months of us learning to be a worshiping community in the best ways we could figure out (thank you Jesus, even for things like YouTube and Zoom). It’s been challenging for me as your pastor (I imagine Pastor Meg would say the same). It’s been challenging for all of you in faith and life and with family and friends. 

    But we’re going back to church, praise the Lord.

    Many things seem to be happening in our world at this moment. How are you handling it all? We’re opening the church doors again. There was a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis. Many of you have your Covid-19 vaccinations. It’s Springtime and the tulips are starting to bloom. The Sandhill Cranes and other migratory birds are back in the valley. So how are we doing as we process all of this? How are you doing?

    Relief? Sorrow? Joy? Sadness? 

    All of the above?

    I’ve heard several phrases of late, including ‘pandemic pain.’ I’ve felt fatigued myself. But having received the vaccination shots, I am ready to be back in our church building with you praising the Lord together. With high vaccination rates among our church members and several safety precautions, Session has voted for our return to in-person worship. Details are listed in another article inside this edition, but our first Sunday back will be Sunday, May 9th, with our regular service times of 9 & 11 a.m.

    This worldwide pandemic is not over. Not by a long shot as I watch the news from places like India and Brazil, or even Michigan. But many of us have received our vaccinations and we are implementing some practices that should allow us to worship the Lord together, safely. And to be clear (I cannot say this enough), if you do not feel safe coming to church in the near future, please continue to worship from home. I will do my absolute best to make sure our worship live-stream allows you to connect with God and connect with the rest of us from the safety of your own home. We have purchased a small and simple (yet high quality) camera that will live-stream Sunday morning worship directly to YouTube. You have the option to watch it ‘live’ as we are worshiping or watch it at a later time that is more convenient for you.

    So, what might we expect on Sunday mornings in May when we go back? First and foremost, we will be together singing, praying, and praising the Lord. Hallelujah! There will be a few changes, of course. We ask that everyone wear a mask while in the building. We will not have indoor fellowship to prevent ‘grouping’ around the food. Both services will be in Bruner Hall (this is to allow for social distancing). We will initially space chairs out in groups of one, two, three, four, etc. (please find a group of chairs that matches your household). Our air handling system will be on during the service. We won’t use hymnals so that multiple people aren’t touching them each morning (lyrics will be in the bulletin and projected onto the wall). And finally, if you are feeling under the weather, we ask that you please be extra-considerate of your fellow worshipers and remain home.

    Every day of life is a new endeavor. The same is true for us in this process of returning to worship. May we prayerfully and carefully take actions that promote good community health, along with our spiritual health. Thank you for your patience with us, and I look forward to seeing every one of you, whenever that might be.

    —Pastor Derek

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