Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Joy Before the Angels

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
So he told them this parable: “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? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 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.’ 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 coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 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.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:1-10

The best angels I ever saw were the boys who were angels in our Christmas pageant one year. My daughter Emily directed and she mixed things up, and so had the girls be the shepherds and the boys be the angels. They were a rowdy, feisty bunch of angels, with bent wings and tilted crowns, who yelled their lines like they were on a ball field. And they couldn't have brought more delight and joy to the people than any angel in heaven.

Jesus is being tested by the religious leaders since he is drawing what they consider an unsavory crowd. They don't see that these are the folks who are honest with their need. Jesus tells them stories of the joy of God when one person who is lost returns home to God. He likens it to a shepherd seeking out a lost sheep or a woman seeking out a lost coin. God is actively seeking out those who are lost, and God is full of joy when we turn from our brokenness and return home to God. We are invited to day to draw near to God today, opening our hearts and laying all of ourselves before the Creator who truly delights in us.

Today, I ask God to help me be honest in my need and draw near to God. May all of us who are wandering like lost sheep, those who feel they have rolled out of sight, know that we are being diligently sought by a loving Creator. May we be grateful when we are found and restored and may we rejoice with those who have come home again and are healed and safe once again.

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