The other morning, my day started out like many of my others. When I got to the church, I took some time as I began my morning to pray. It was a chilly morning and so I lit my fireplace and sat down in front of it. So, I read my morning prayers and readings and then just sat there to pray. As I started to pray and breathe slowly, I entered into an incredibly refreshing time of stillness. I honestly stopped feeling much of anything other than the warmth of the fire on my back and the rhythm of my breathing. I heard the noises of life outside my office as kids were heading to school and cars going by, but that was about it. I lost track of the time as I sat there in stillness and in prayer. At least 30 minutes went by when there was a knock on my door. The rhythm was interrupted and the moment broken. But that’s not a bad thing – the time had come to move from that place to stillness to the rest of what was ahead for my day.
When I opened the door, there was one of my colleagues and her youngest son who was heading to preschool in a few minutes. He wanted to share the good news with me that his cuddly sleepy animal had been found. You see, the night before they couldn’t find the little cuddly and they searched all over the house to no avail. There was undoubtedly much angst about this missing cuddly. But then that morning…the cuddly was found! And not only was the cuddly found, but he wanted to not only celebrate with his mom, but also with others – hence the knock on my door.
That’s the story of the parables in Luke 15 – that which was lost, now found. And not only found, but then celebrated! The sheep found…the shepherd calls neighbors and friends to celebrate. The coin located…the woman throws a party. The son returned home…the biggest celebration that town had seen in years.
To me, that morning was a beautiful combination of different parts of the Christian life – times of quiet and stillness and then times of finding that which is lost and celebrating with others.
This picture was one I took at a retreat a few years ago with a similar expeirence. I had gone out for an early morning walk and prayer time and as I was there by the edge of this pond and just soaking in the solitude and stillness, I heard a shout from behind me as another person on the retreat was coming down to wish me a good morning and join me for the time. I wasn’t upset with the interruption but welcomed it as I was able to join with another in the beauty of that morning.
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 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.
“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 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.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.” ’ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’ ”