Proper 19 (2022)

Pentecost   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  15:47
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I hope we’re all scandalized by the words in v. 2 in our gospel lesson.
Luke 15:2 ESV
And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
We tend to think of the Pharisees and scribes as the bad guys until we take a deep look and realize that we, or at least I, would likely do the same thing. I would judge Jesus. What’s more is that in our present age we are so concerned with being perceived as virtuous that many of us, at least I, would rather be caught associating with a murderer before I’d be caught eating with certain pastors. It’d certainly be easier to explain given my public persona.
Today we must identify that there is an absence of scandalizers among us and what we must do about it.

Cognition that someone is missing

In retail, the standard rate for shrink- that is the the amount of inventory or money that you can expect to lose just as a cost of business is about 2%. You expect theft, breakage, spoilage, and of course - lost goods. This happened all the time when I worked in retail - you’d count 97 leukemia pills or 29 mars bars and be missing a few or have a few too many. We’d just modify the system inventory and move on.
Jesus tells us here that He expects His inventory counts to be 100% accurate ALL the time.
Luke 15:4 ESV
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?
Many of us do not even recognize that someone is missing from our church. In fact we kind of like that this church is a lot like us. God wants all people to be saved. How righteous are we to think that we do not need someone next to us? How scared are we to go looking for someone to sing with?
Sadly, we’ve just taken to thinking that the cost of doing business is that some people won’t get here. We should not be so callous or fearful.

Looking for the missing thing

This leads us to the next part of the lesson. We too must look around. This is what Jesus and others have done for us.
Ezekiel 34:12 ESV
As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.
For many of us we grew up in the church and we forget just how difficult this was for our parents.
I’ve got vivid memories of my dad coming into my bedroom at what must’ve been 4AM. The cracked door would pierce the the cloud of darkness that was my teenage room in order to wake me for church. He sought me out.
Here’s the thing about darkness - if you have never seen light then you do not recognize it. The light is even infuriating.
Friends, so many of our neighbors, so many of us, are encased in darkness so foolishly they hate the light. Maybe you are in this same darkness.
Elie Wiesel said ‘The fool looks at the lightning, the wise man at the road that lies - illuminated - before him.
In our church body- every year on Christmas day the reading is the same: John 1.
Do you remember this verse:
John 1:5 ESV
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
This is good news. There is no distance, no thing, not a sin in existence that Jesus has not rescued you from and given you a path out of. Further, Jesus carries you into the Kingdom of God - often against your will at times.

Restoration illuminates you in the world

See when we are found, when we know who we are and where we are going we are free to be in the middle of everything and REALLY live. We’re not worried about who we eat with because we don’t need to portray our own virtue. Jesus is our virtue. Nothing can demean or belittle us.
I hesitate to use this story for fear of my reputation. I remember in Spokane when they first passed the act allowing recreational Marijuana I went into one of the stores. Not to buy anything but just to see what it was like. What was more interesting was what came next.- coming out I was worried that someone I knew would see me THEN I got a knowing nod from someone headed into the store. I had purchased nothing and done nothing wrong and but I was worried being seen there would ruin my reputation.
It raises the question from everyone - are you one of THEM??
Yet, to all those people I say yes. Yes I am a sinner.
Being found in Jesus removes all that. What matters is how HE views me and where He places me.
Ezekiel tells Israel that they will be free to be as vulnerable and as well cared for as God’s own sheep.
Ezekiel 34:14 ESV
I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel.

Restoration is not just for the lost but also for the receiving party

We tend to think that restoration is only good for the lost. This is short sighted.
Look at v. 6 and 9
Luke 15:6 ESV
And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’
Luke 15:9 ESV
And 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.’
Who celebrates? Not the sheep, certainly not the coin!
Friends the Lord CHEERS, all of heaven resounds with joy when someone turns away from sin.
Luke 15:7 ESV
Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
I know that for many of you the sharing of the peace is your least favorite thing we do. Tough luck - just be glad I don’t make you use the holy kiss. It is SO important. For some of us it is may be the only time in the week that someone looks them in the eye and says ‘I - ME - I AM GLAD YOU are HERE’


Friends, when we invite others into this thing known as life itself - the church it is not just good for them but good for us. It teaches us that we are no better and no worse than anyone else. It teaches all of us that we have been recieved by God Himself and we get to eat with Him.
I want to encourage you to very soon eat with someone controversial. Someone that would make you and your neighbors uncomfortable whether it be a white supremacist or a Communist - eat with them - show them to the Lord.
Scandalize the world with grace.
God has found us and claimed us - isn’t that the big scandal?
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