Until… (an intergenerational sermon)

Luke 15: 1-10

Have you ever lost something really important?


What was it?


If it was really important, how did you feel?


How long did you look for it?


For me, it might be my wallet, a book I’m reading, my cell phone, or a document in my computer whose name I’ve forgotten. If you’re like me, you feel anxious, sometimes angry, and frustrated, and look all over the place for what you’ve lost, whether it is your keys, a toy, a wallet, your homework, or phone.

That’s what today’s bible story is about – losing something and then finding it. Jesus told the story of a lost sheep and a lost coin over dinner one evening. Today, he might have talked about a lost wallet or a lost dog.

Every story has a setting and a purpose. Jesus was having supper with friends, but they were the wrong kind of people. They might have had smelly clothes, not enough money, or jobs no one wanted to do. They might have been sick or gotten in trouble with the police. They weren’t wealthy, well-dressed, or good people, by the standards of churchgoers and good citizens. They weren’t the popular kids in school, but the outcasts, duffs, and nerds. Many of them weren’t even allowed in the temple, what Jewish folk called church, because of their past behavior or lifestyle.

Sitting at the popular table, the table everyone wants to be invited to, the righteous people in their fine clothes and good incomes were complaining about Jesus’ dinner companions: “What’s he doing with those people? Why doesn’t he go to dinner with the good people, respectable people, and popular and well-dressed people like us?”

How would you feel if some of your friends were being insulted or bullied by people who didn’t even know them?


Jesus heard his friends being insulted, and it really bothered him. Jesus believed that God loved everyone, rich or poor, good or bad, in or out. So, he told a story about a lost sheep and a misplaced coin. He told a story about how much God loves each of us, especially the foolish, forgotten, and lost.

Some of you know I like to write – I like words and try to figure out what they mean. The key word in these stories is the word “until.”

Yes, “until.”

Does anyone know what “until” means? When someone says “I won’t go to sleep until you get home” or “I will love you until the end of time,” or at a wedding “till death do us part” what does that mean?


I think it means “forever” or “till you show up” or “till the job is done” regardless of how long it takes.

That’s how long the woman and the shepherd searched. And, that’s how long God will love you – “forever,” “without end,” “till everything’s ok.” That’s a big deal – but that’s love, isn’t it?

A mom loves her son or daughter forever, even when he or she’s done bad things. A dad loves his daughter or son forever, even when he or she runs away from home.  A grandparent looks for her or his grandchild forever if they’re lost. No limits, no conditions, no exceptions.

That’s God: some people think God quits loving us, that there are limits to God’s love, or that we can do something to disqualify us from being loved, but that’s not what Jesus thought. Jesus says God loves you forever, and ever and ever.

But, these stories, these parables, are about all of us too – in the Jewish tradition, from which Jesus came, numbers meant something: one hundred is a complete number, 99 isn’t….the 99 sheep need the last one, the lost one, the forgotten one, to be complete, to be really happy, to feel joy, and to be saved!

Isn’t that true for you? Don’t you miss someone like your sister or daughter or son or grandchildren or husband or wife or a special friend when they’re gone – even when you don’t always get along with them? But when you see them again, you feel complete….and life is good and you’re so happy you feel like singing.

That’s God’s way and our way here at church: we are unique, sometimes quirky, occasionally troublesome and noisy, sometimes we have trouble paying attention or sitting still, but always wonderful people – and we all matter to each other. Here at church no one is lost or left out, everyone has a place, and that’s what God wants us to do: to look out for each other, to care for each other, to welcome each other home because we all belong.

So, Jesus told a story about a coin and a sheep to remind us that we all matter to God, that we all matter to each other, that there is no outside or end to God’s love, and that no one is every left behind! And that’s forever!