Lost and Found
At the end of last year, one of my closest friends and I set out for a weekend in York. We planned it to be full of food, laughter and exploring this beautiful city. Mind you, I also needed to run an errand, a ‘hit two birds with one stone’ kind of thing. I needed to go to York Minster to ask if they had some type of clergy lost property box because a few months prior I had left my preaching scarf there whilst deaconing for Bishop Julie and Bishop Sam’s consecration service. Approaching the security guard we explained the story and to my surprise she let us in. She was doubtful we would find it because it was black amongst a whole load of other black robes and scarves. Yet we found it. I could tell it was mine because of the stain of foundation around the neck. I squealed jokingly to my friend, “I have found my lost sheep!” and we did a little ‘I found my preaching scarf’ dance. This could be like a parable, my friend joked. But she was right, currently we are going through the parables at St Mark’s, and I am reminded of Jesus’ story about the lost coin, (Luke 15:8). Imagine how funny it would be if I lost 50p, looked everywhere for it and then when I found it I was so happy I invited my friends over to celebrate. My preaching scarf to many people means nothing; it’s plain, black and has no real significance. But to me it is precious; it was mine and I was gutted when I couldn’t find it. God is just like that. We might have had times when we feel invisible to others, perhaps we have been low and it’s been a while since anyone has asked if we are okay, we might be finding faith difficult or feeling lost. As the world moves by it’s easy to feel like we aren’t significant. However, in these parables God shows that he will go out of his way to find us, not only to bring us home, but to gather people to celebrate us. Years ago, I spent three years away from the church. I had got so hooked on feeling unworthy to be Christ’s follower that I stayed away from anything remotely Christian. I was lost but God knew where I was the whole time and without me being aware he was leading me back to him. When I came back to church, I thought I would experience disappointment from my church family, but they were so overjoyed to see me it was like I was being washed from all the shame I had held against myself. I’m very blessed to have had that experience and whether we experience it in person or not that is the heavenly reality. God celebrates our homecoming. We once were lost but now we are found, and no matter where you go in life always know that your Heavenly Father will always find you and carry you home.
So back to my initial story of my time in York. Later that day (the day we found my preaching scarf) my friend and I were about to cross a busy dual carriageway, until my friend squealed, “Hana! A kitten!” I turned around to see there was a tiny kitten lurking around the bins. With no houses nearby we were concerned that this kitten was a stray and so my friend scooped her up and we set out to find the closest home. We came across a permanent houseboat. A man and his dog were sitting inside drinking a cup of tea. I waved through the window to get his attention.
“We don’t know if this kitten is lost or a stray, we aren’t from here and don’t know what to do…” His face softened as he gazed upon this sweet kitten and he took her into his big arms. “Don’t worry, leave it with me,” he said with a warm smile. As we walked away I looked back and I could see him sitting down with this kitten and dog at his feet. I had no idea how the story would end but we both knew we had done the best we could. I started to remember how God adopts us. Ephesians 1:5 says God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Like the pleasure on this man’s face for the kitten. I knew she would be safe, and if she was a stray the thought of her experiencing a warm home, tasty tuna food and love makes me think of this divine adoption that we are offered through Christ Jesus. The beauty of these two stories reveal whether you are lost, or are yet to be found. Jesus is there, knocking at the door of your life (Rev 3:20). Jesus is pursuing us until we are found (Luke 15:4). In this consumerist culture things that are old and broken are thrown away for new and better things but God takes all the thrown away things and loves them, restores them and makes them new (Colossians 3:10). It assures me there is nowhere God's love can’t reach us (Psalm 139:7).
Revd Hana Amner
St Marks Saltney