“We had to celebrate … this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
Have you ever found yourself lost?
In the early 1960s in our city, James, then in grade school, and his little brother crossed a street that their mother had told them not to cross. One day the two boys went a long way beyond that street, exploring new places, seeing the sights. After a while James’s younger brother asked, “Where are we?” He was confident that his older brother knew. But James didn’t know. Walking faster, looking harder, they recognized no street signs, no familiar stores, no friendly faces. Running, wiping tears of worry, James finally saw a familiar street sign.
It’s never fun being lost, but in the racially tense years of the 1960s, it was especially traumatic for those African American kids. Their mother’s warning recognized the unjust boundaries that restricted people of color.
Jesus’ story in Luke 15 portrays two sons who are lost when it comes to the true purpose of their lives. The younger son took off with his share of his father’s resources, wasted everything, came to his senses, returned, and threw himself on his father’s mercy. The older brother, also lost, took arrogant refuge in his own good behavior and hard work, refused to recognize his brother’s return, and snubbed his father’s invitation.
Whichever is your kind of lost, the good shepherd wants you found.
Father, thank you for your concern for lost souls and wanderers. Please help all of us who are lost in one way or another, and help us to welcome others in your name. Amen.
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