Lost & Found

 1 June 2021 |

Isn’t it frustrating when you can’t find something you know is around. Keys and glasses are my familiar lost companions. I hunt for them for hours and yet can’t seem to see them. And then suddenly I come across them in a place I am sure I’ve looked before. I see but do not find! And sometimes I see but do not see! And vice versa and equally, often I ‘discover’ say, a book I’ve not looked at in a while only to realize it is just what I’m looking for even though I can’t remember why I bought the book in the first place. By chance recently, I ‘re-found’ an author that has sent me down many unusual but rewarding roads.

Some years ago, I was planning a series of sermons on Paul’s letter to the Romans – it is a notoriously difficult book and has flummoxed me on a number of attempts to get to its core. Finding the way in is the first problem. Its normally at this stage I look on the internet to try to find a guide not just to the whole book but as a gentle way into discovering the books treasures. I have never managed to ‘get into’ War and Peace or The Lord of the Rings; I gave up both about pages 800, believing that if I wasn’t in by then it was never going to happen. So, I bought a commentary on the book of Romans. When it arrived I was overawed by its size being a whole lot longer than the original biblical letter. In fact the introduction was longer than Romans itself!

I can’t remember now if I ever did tackle Romans. So the commentary sat on my shelves waiting for me to arrive yet again at the door of the biblical text. More recently I was studying the gospel of Luke, and in an interesting article a book was mentioned by the author Brendan Byrne. As usual I checked the internet and found a commentary by this author on Luke and it seemed very attractive, even though I must have about twenty books already on this gospel – don’t get me started on the Gospel of Mark, for I have a library all to itself on Mark!

When the book arrived, I read on the inside jacket, this same author had written a commentary on Romans and yes, you guessed it, it was sitting on my shelves waiting for me to ‘rediscover’ it.

And like the woman and the lost coin who sweeps the house and won’t stop till she finds it, celebration follows. For a strong theme of Luke’s Gospel is the God who seeks us out if we are lost and celebrates when we are found! Story after parable, Luke’s amazing theme is of hospitality for the lost ‘family of God’, those outside Israel, the other people of the world. Closely connected to the story of the Lost Coin is the parable of the ‘prodigal/lost’ son, who lives a life of materialism only to realise too late that he has squandered the relationship he had with his father, who receives him back with open arms. Jesus, Luke concludes, offers a “welcome home” in acts of unconditional generosity. Lost and found – now let’s celebrate!