Sermonette for St. Paul’s annual Fund-Raiser
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 11, 2016
Sermonette Text: Luke 15:1-10
Sermonette Theme: “Lost and Found”
(Sources: Concordia Pulpit Resources, Volume 26, Part 4, Series C; Anderson’s Cycle C Preaching Workbook; original ideas; Brokhoff, Series C, Preaching Workbook; Christian Jokes Online)
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
An old drunk stumbles across a baptismal service one Sunday afternoon down by the river, back in the days when they used to have river baptisms. He proceeds to walk into the water and stands next the preacher. The minister sees the drunk and says to him, “Mister, are you ready to find Jesus?”
The drunk says, “Yes, Preacher , I sure am.”
The minister then submerges the fellow under the water and pulls him right back up. “Have you found Jesus?” the preacher asks.
“Nooo, I didn’t,” says the drunk.
The preacher gently immerses him under for quite a bit longer, brings him up, and says, “Now, brother, have you found Jesus?”
“Nooo, I have not, Reverend.”
The preacher, with prayers on his lips holds the man under for at least thirty seconds this time, brings him out of the water, and says softly, “Sir, have you found Jesus yet?”
The drunk wipes his eyes and says to the preacher, “Are you sure this is where he fell in?”
I discovered that there are hundreds of jokes about finding Jesus, but according to our sermon text, when we’re lost, we don’t find Jesus, He finds us!
In our sermon text for today, Jesus tells a story about a woman who goes looking for a coin she’s lost. She has nine other coins, but she still really wants that one. Jesus also tells about a shepherd who leaves ninety-nine sheep in the open country to look for just one lost sheep. When He finds that sheep, He carries it home on His shoulders in great joy.
That’s the way God works. Of course, God goes out looking for something far more valuable than money or sheep. God goes out looking for people. The people He made, — including you and me – were lost. You and I were lost because we had separated ourselves from God by our sins. So God went out looking for us – for every sinner, for every one of us.
He didn’t look only for sinners who had broken just one of the Ten Commandments. He didn’t look only for sinners who seemed like pretty nice people. No, God went looking for every sinner – even the very worst, and even for just one sinner. He had faithful people, but even that one sinner – you, me – was really valuable to Him. So He kept looking!
That’s the whole reason Jesus came among us. Jesus said, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” By His perfect life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has won forgiveness, life, and salvation for us lost sinners.
He finds us today by the Word, which we hear in church, in Sunday School, and by reading the Bible. He finds us in Holy Baptism, where He makes us lost sinners the children of God. He finds us in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, where He gives His own body and blood to eat and drink. That’s how God works. He never stops looking, but sends Jesus to find us lost sinners – every one of us – and bring us to our eternal home in great joy!
Twice our sermon text tells us of the joy in heaven when a sinner repents. We can see the smile on the Father’s face. The choirs of angels are singing. The archangels’ trumpets are blaring. That’s in heaven. How much joy is indicated when sinners repent in the average church? In our church?
Is there a party spirit of great joy when a person is baptized or confirmed or renews His faith? Evangelism is Happy Time at the church, because it is an echo of what goes on in heaven. Because God’s will is fulfilled. Because God wants everyone to return to Him.
So, why does God not find all of His lost sheep before they perish? Because they do not want to be found or refuse to be found; they persist in rebellion. But there is always hope. How many times haven’t we judged a lost sinner by saying, “He’ll never change!” Like the shepherd in our parable, God never gives up on us. Why does God continue the search? Because each one of His children is precious to Him.
Jesus isn’t lost, so we don’t need to find Him. When we are lost, the Holy Spirit renews faith in our hearts so that Jesus will find us! Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.