Sermon Pentecost 14 September 15, 2019

Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28               Psalm 14          1 Timothy 1:12-17                 Luke 15:1-10

May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

How many of us have ever lost something ?  We are generally pretty careful with our stuff but now and again things go missing.  Sometimes it’s because we put them in a safe place and then forget where we put them, that happens in my home a lot.  For years that something has been on a windowsill or a shelf or in a drawer, I have seen it a thousand times, I could pick it up in the dark, with my eyes closed, standing on my head, yet the day I need it, it has disappeared !  I still haven’t been able to explain how it got moved and to where !  I wonder who might know ?  My belovéd perhaps ?  She loves tidying-up behind me.

Other times we lose things because of carelessness.  We drop something and it disappears down the drain or under the deck, you know where it is but it might as well be lost because you cannot get it back unless you call a plumber or a carpenter and rip the place apart.

Sometimes it’s lost from just pure forgetfulness.  Maybe it wasn’t that important to you anyway that’s why you don’t remember where it is, so why worry about losing it ?  No reason except it bugs you to not be perfect.  Let it go, you are not perfect, and there are other things to worry about  (Matthew 6:34).

Other times other people or circumstances cause you to lose something, like money in an investment or in your travels.  On bad advice you made the wrong investment or took the wrong road and landed-up in heaven knows where, oft-times the GPS doesn’t help, you’re stuck.  If you retrace your steps there is always the danger of getting lost even further.

And contrary to some opinion, praying to Sts. Jude or Anthony the so-called saints of lost things and causes ain’t going to help.  Like the woman in the parable you have to bear down, look, search, leave no stone unturned until you find your lost possession.  Or if you cannot recover what was lost learn the lesson and don’t make that investment or journey again, don’t listen to people who speak without knowledge.  God sometimes protects us from our own stupidity but often is just happy to watch us learn from life’s mistakes.

As they were being booted-out of the Garden of Eden, losing Paradise, I wonder what Adam and Eve felt and said to each other.  I bet there was plenty of blame going around.  It must have been a doozey of an argument as to who was to blame, except Eve couldn’t blame his side of the family !  I wonder if they stopped for a moment and said  “If only . . ”.  God wants us to learn from our mistakes and not make them again, so He won’t intervene, and let us go back and find what we lost.  But they were so busy blaming each other that they never even thought to ask for forgiveness.  Who knows where that would have gone, it might even have saved the need for the Crucifixion;  never hold back repenting.

Losing material things is hard enough for whatever reason but losing relationships with people is much worse.  Every one of us has lost a relationship, perhaps with a parent or a child, a spouse or other relative, or a friendship that seemed so good.  They just turned away, or maybe you turned away because of something they did that hurt you.  This is the toughest thing to bear.  Perhaps you have tried for years to recover what was lost, but no amount of seeking has changed anything. You may have sought professional advice but that didn’t help, it may even have made things worse, hardened opinions, reinforced resentments, made forgiveness impossible.  Driven apart you cannot even get to talk with the lost love one;  your heart is broken.

Now is the time, not to pray to a saint, but to pray to God.  Saints are good examples of a Christian life but we only have one Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous.  It’s God who answers prayers, we only need Jesus.  If we pray to a saint, we are saying we are not good enough to pray to God directly.  Balderdash !  That’s an insult to Jesus and you.  Jesus came and died on the Cross to make you good enough.  You have Jesus’ permission;  when asked how to pray by His disciples He didn’t say pray to Moses or Abraham, or Elijah or an angel, He said  “When you pray, say  ‘Father, hallowed be your name’ ”  you know the rest  (Luke 11:2).  And if you pray to a saint you in effect are trying to deceive God, by getting His ear through some imaginary backdoor.  That ain’t gonna work.  And if you pray to a saint because you think a crowd of you asking will persuade God more than one, that God will be overcome by the sheer force of numbers;  forget it !  That ain’t gonna happen either.  That’s an insult to God.  God’s not stupid !

As Jesus said  “Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father;  and your Father will reward you”  (Matthew 6:6).

So what do you pray about in lost relationships ?  That’s easy, hand the problem and your loved one over to God.  You probably have agonised over loss of them for years, spent many sleepless nights and shed an ocean of tears, yet nothing has changed.  You have tried to correct the problem time and time again.  When you have done all you can do, give your problem to God and the person you love to the care of God.  As with that one lost sheep God will set out and go and take care of what was lost, He is our Shepherd too  (Psalm 23).

Now God needs something from you.  He doesn’t want to go out searching on a stormy night if the relationship is not really that important to you.  Are you upset out of pride or appearances or jealousy ?  Is the lost person really important to you as a person, or just because you need what they can do for you ?  If it’s the latter you may just as well pray for a winning lottery ticket, God won’t be that interested.  So before you pray examine your intent rigorously, then with a pure heart, tears if you will, with earnestness and belief that God will heal your relationship, pray that God will protect your loved one and answer your prayer.  And friends, that is the Good News for today.  Amen.

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