Now all the
tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to
listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes
were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes
sinners and eats with them.’
3 So he told them
this parable: 4‘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? 5When he has found
it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And
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.” 7Just so, I
tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one
sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous
people who need no repentance.
8 ‘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?
9When 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.” 10Just so, I
tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels
of God over one sinner who repents.’
we kick off our Christian Education year and celebrate the lives
of the children and youth in this congregation, the volunteer
teachers that serve in those classrooms, and we are uniting with
congregations and faith communities all over the country by
participating in the “Children’s Sabbath”
Sunday. Sponsored by the
Children's Defense Fund, the National Observance of
Children's Sabbaths Celebration is a way for faith
communities to celebrate children as sacred gifts of the Divine,
and provides the opportunity for houses of worship to renew and
live out their responsibility to care, protect and advocate for
congregations will pick a Sunday in Sept or Oct to celebrate
Children’s Sabbath but Today kicks off the campaign for the 40
days of prayer for children & families, you heard a bit about
that earlier (or will soon) and we hope you’ll join us for a day
or a week whenever you are able to light a candle and say a
prayer. But as you begin to pray for the children of this
nation, or this county, or this city –
Do you know
how many children are without adequate shelter, food, clothing?
Access to health care? Access to education? Given a head start?
publications of the Children’s Defense Fund that accompanied our
worship ideas, photos, videos to help us plan our children’s
Sabbath worship some startling statistics came with them:
Every 11 seconds a high school
student drops out.*
Every 32 seconds a baby is
born into poverty.
Every 41 seconds a child is
confirmed as abused or neglected. Every 42 seconds a baby is
born without health insurance.
Every minute a baby is born at
low birth weight.
minutes a child is arrested for a drug offense.
minutes a child is arrested for a violent crime.
minutes a baby dies before his or her first birthday. Every
3 hours a child or teen is killed by a firearm.
hours a child or teen commits suicide.
hours a child is killed by abuse or neglect.
are scandalous and when considered in the light of our parable
of the lost sheep it is way more than the 1 that has gotten
lost, left, abandoned. It feels more like we are the 1 saved
and they’re the 99 lost. We have alot to carry with us in
A parable is
a teaching story. A unique teaching method that Jesus used to
educate those he encountered on his journeys. And one of the
joys of parables is that Christians are still trying to best
understand the meanings of these teaching tools. I’d like to
offer one interpretation this morning and may it spark
conversation in your families or at brunch after worship that
you might come back to me with your own interpretation!
particular parable in Luke comes directly after Jesus has dined
with a group of tax collectors and other lower class,
dispossessed individuals. The Pharisees, They were a group of
educated men of a particular school of Jewish thought. I read
this week in a textbook about the Great Jewish
thinkers and ideas that the
Pharisee school of thought was more eclectic than others and
often more democratic. One could even summarize with an old
Pharisee saying “ A learned mamzer (this is an outcast,
specifically an child born out of marriage or some other
forbidden relationship) – a learned mamzer takes precedence over
an ignorant High Priest."
So why then,
is this group of learned individuals upset that Jesus is
inviting the outcast to dinner? Well we all know that theory is
sometimes far from practice in terms of inclusion, equality,
mumbling and grumbling among themselves about this latest meal.
Jesus is once again crossing the imaginary line of purity, law,
what is understood as God’s command.
And his response is to tell this
It starts with suppose one of you
has a hundred sheep and you lose one? Hypothetical question,
one we can all pretend to try right now. Sort of. Yeah, I
guess I’d go look for it. Maybe. Depends on the weather.
Maybe. Am I hungry? I joke because I know a secret – you may
know it too – I only learned it this week.
Turns out –
though God is referred to as the people’s shepherd in the OT
writings by the time we get to the 1st century, shepherds have a
bad reputation – akin to the tax collector the sailor. They
were reputed to be shiftless, thieving, trespassing, of a lower
the Pharisees to pretend they are the shepherd, and says God is
too, tirelessly searching for the lost sheep. The second story
is God as a woman, searching for the lost coin. Watch out now,
you’re playing with fire, Jesus. I think it’s important to
recognize that the hypothetical is hard to imagine for these
Suppose your shopping cart is full of the only things in this
world that are yours and someone takes one while you are resting
in the park. Do you not search and search, every other person
on the street, try to find it?
you to imagine yourself and God as a homeless person.
are asked what they would do if they were an shepherd. An
outcast. A woman. It’s nearly impossible to say what you would
do in another set of circumstances –because you don’t know
really what that’s like until you are there.
Would you not
celebrate at finding that one thing? Carry the sheep home on
your shoulder? Call your friends and tell them not only did you
find the lost coin, but you want to celebrate with them! This
celebration in heaven, on the living room floor where the coin
is found, in the open country where the sheep graze – this is
the kingdom - it’s come alive. People lifting one another up,
those once lost now found. The outcast are welcome, that the
child, that falls between the cracks, left in foster care or on
the street is brought into a caring home, a loving family, an
appropriately equipped school.
is to celebrate, to honor, to show mercy, to help out the one
lost. The lost or prodigal son is the 3rd story Jesus tells in
Luke, right after the sheep & the coin. Third story helps to
bring it closer to home. Who doesn’t celebrate when a cousin is
released from prison or a brother or sister is home from war, a
daughter comes home after running away?
today have had access to education, still do have access. Many
of us have higher education degrees. We’ve been raised in the
church and most of us have a loving parent or have worked hard
in our personal lives to overcome situations of abuse, neglect.
These children we talk of today do not have access to those
things and need the found to stand up on their behalf and
with God is to share in God’s mercy. God’s action is merciful,
like the happy parent, the good shepherd.
find God’s mercy offensive, who cannot imagine God as the
outcast, helping the marginalized, disenfranchised, cannot
celebrate with the God when a one is found, when the treasure is
years of a child, ages birth to five, are critical years for
children to develop social, emotional and cognitive abilities
that lead to healthy development and academic & behavioral
success in life.
My eyes have
been opened since last week, where I over stated the care that
most of our children receive here in the states, when I compared
our parent’s ability to afford childcare. Which I knew somehow
but my reading this week from the CDF has only cleared up the
generalization I gave last week.
In Oregon, it
is estimated that child care, full time, for a 4 year old is
about $7500 for the year. According to the CDF & US Department
of Education the annual in-state tuition at the U of O, just
tuition, not talking supplies room & board, etc. but tuition for
classes is $5900(and change). Families on the margin
economically have tough choices to make and when it comes down
to these numbers, It’s no wonder more aren’t in pre-school or
other early educational opportunities.
The system is
big and complicated and all interdependent but in the midst of
all these statistics and the economy, federal budget, the
children themselves are lost. Precious gems, because I believe
that every child has that same magic I see in Hannah, that thing
that melts you entirely. Did you know the U.S. spends almost
three times as much per prisoner as per public school pupil. I
know a statistic can be manipulated to fit a cause but if these
children and youth, these lost sheep were supported by insuring
all had access to health care and schooling at that base level
the number shoved into prisons would also lower.
These are the
children that need our help today are the ones that tomorrow end
up in the juvenile detention centers, are at risk for
continuing a to get into trouble, find others who are in trouble
and never finding the one person or the one community to watch
over them, give them other choices, teach them how to problem
solve and make a positive future out of what looks like a
trajectory headed straight for imprisonment, early death, and
certainly, life on the margins.
More than 20
percent of children under age five in the United States are
poor; 30 percent of children in foster care are preschool age.
In Oregon’s public school system in 2008/09 there were an
estimated 18,000 homeless children enrolled.
faces multiple risks that jeopardize their futures. Which man
or woman wouldn’t do what they could to help these young souls?
For more than
20 years, CDF has worked closely with national religious leaders
and organizations, state and regional bodies, and local
congregations, leaders, and lay people. They are training young
adults to return to their communities and start early ed
programs, they are creating schools wherever they can, they are
tirelessly working for children. Let’s watch a 5 minute video
now, an introduction to the CDF and the work they are committed
to – in leaving no child behind.
video: see it at
www.childrensdefensefund.org. It is a link on their main
page to a YouTube video (or,
watch it on YouTube here).
up on Me” She is precious. Baby, God is blessing you. God is
blessing us this morning through the parable. God is waiting
for us to respond with the same goodness, celebrate with the
same sincerity and search for the lost with the same intensity
as God would. Use the power we have, the hands we have
to…notice when a child in our neighborhood is in need. Use the
voices we have to bless all children and remind them they are
special, capable, and have a voice. Use our hearts to listen to
the child that reminds us to love one another.
They need a
plan to succeed now.
care for them now.
We can do our
part. We can’t give up now.
I want to
help you get started, but then you’ll have to take the
initiative and go further. Our teachers got us started today (Leitha/Mel
or Betsy) by introducing our commitment to pray. Yes we start
all things in prayer. But we want to get involved locally too.
Already this year we gathered enough supplies for 180 school
children to start school off right – NEW backpacks with every
single supply that is required of them to complete their
homework. From kindergarten on up. We are still handing those
out and if you know of a family that needs these supplies they
need to call the office, we want to give these children the best
running start they can have.
matter our classrooms are in need of new or used reading
materials for our nursery and school aged children. Consider
donating your favorite children’s books that offer spiritual
guidance or tell important stories to our CMT.
More than 75%
of the children waiting for mentors through Committed Partners
For Youth, Big Brothers Big Sisters are boys, There are
currently more boys on our waiting list then they can readily
serve. Some have been waiting for over a year. (CPY) They will
train you. They will mentor you as you become a mentor. You
can make a difference in the life of 1 more child, talk with me
about how to get signed up for that.
We are also
now collecting baby food and diapers for a local agency called
the Relief Nursery. 3 locations in the Eugene/Springfield area
and 80% of the children served through this organization are
under the age of 3. Yesterday I went and bought some supplies.
You can buy anything non-perishable for anyone 0-6. Rice
cereal, so important for the diet of an infant. Formula. Cans
of fruits and vegetables we all know how important it is to get
our kids started off right with healthy foods and frankly the
families that need it the most can’t make their own baby food,
they can’t even find work let alone make it to the farmer’s
market or Fred Meyer. It’s expensive and they need our help.
We’ll collect those items through the end of October.
insert, there are even more ways. I’ll tell you more next
celebrate today God’s grace given so lovingly to others. May we
celebrate with God because we have experienced the mercy
ourselves. May we celebrate that grace and manifest that grace
in the lives of others. Today. Tomorrow. Together. Amen.