Today's Lectionary Text
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So he told them this parable: “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? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And 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.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
“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? When 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.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
If I correctly recall, the meaning of the parable of the lost sheep really sunk in for me about the same time I started to herd cattle.
Growing up on a farm in north central Kansas, we mostly raised Herefords -- the ones with the red bodies and the white faces. At maybe 9 or 10 years old, assisting my father, we'd use a pickup, sometimes a tractor, and sometimes our only horse in trying to get the cattle where they needed to go, whether it be to another field, to eat, or loading up to the sale barn.
Sometimes my job was to count. Those big, red bodies started to blur sometimes, but I think I kept track of them. He'd have me yell the count back to him, and if it was less than he thought, he'd start trying to round up the delinquent. For him, it was a matter of making a living -- I remember as a kid being astonished at the prices that beef cattle would bring at the sale barn -- but also a matter of the well-being of the animals.
That's about the time I heard the parable of the sheep. Just like the farm owner, God delights when we are on the right path and not going astray. There are plenty of temptations out there for livestock, as there are for us. But if we continue to stay on the path where we're being herded, all will be right at the end of the day.
-- David Burke
Communications content specialist
Prayer for Reflection
Dear Lord, remind us that we can't be too bullish when it comes to following you. Amen.
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