Welcome to Sunday Retold – stories and prayers based on the set readings for the week. I hope it may be of help to you.
Many churches around the world listen to the same readings together, following the patterns in the Lectionary. Quite often, there is something in The Bible Retold, or Prayers and Verses, that fits. Sunday Retold is an occasional series where I shall try to share those things with you.
If you are part of a community which follows these readings, they may be of use to you in your preparation for Sunday. You may find something for All-Age Worship, or work with youngsters or not so youngsters, or in some other way. If you are not, I hope you will find something to think about, something to help, just the same.
Please feel free to use these extracts, and please say where you got them from!
This Sunday, 11th September, the Gospel reading is Luke 15:1-10, The Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin.
In The Bible Retold I tell Matthew’s version of the Lost Sheep, which is here:
“A farmer owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away. She gets lost. What will the farmer do? He’ll leave the 99 grazing peacefully on the hillside, and go off to search for the missing one. He’ll look for her in bushes and behind rocks, and he’ll keep on looking until he finds his lost sheep. Then he’ll pick her up, put her over his shoulders, and carry her safely home. He’ll be very happy to have found the one lost sheep.”
And here is the retelling of the Lost Coin from Luke. Both the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin are part of the crescendo towards the great story of the Lost Son in Luke. All three of these stories have a double audience – those who are seen as Lost, and those who are seen as Righteous.
The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were not the only ones to be listening to Jesus. He smiled when he saw groups of tax collectors, and others who were considered bad, coming forward.
The Pharisees drew their prayer shawls closer around them.
“You see how he welcomes these people – he even eats with them!” They shuddered in disgust. So Jesus wove stores for them, stories that would fill their minds and hearts.
“Suppose a woman has ten silver coins, then loses one. What will she do? She’ll light a lamp and sweep the house, turning everything upside down until she finds it. Then she’ll call out to her friends, ‘I’ve found it – come and celebrate with me!’ That’s how it is with God. Every time someone turns away from wrong, and comes to God, the angels celebrate!”
Stores have the capacity to reach us in a way that argument does not. They can engage our sympathies and our imagination, our hearts, and help us to respond differently. Here, you can imagine the “outsiders”, those who were “lost”, listening with delight as they are described as valuable, precious, worthy of celebration. You can also imagine those who thought of themselves as safe perhaps beginning to see what Jesus was about, seeking out those they rejected -if they were not too offended to see!
How good to know that we are precious, and sought out by God, and rejoiced over. Perhaps knowing this might help us to see people we might normally overlook differently, as equally precious, and sought out, and rejoiced over.
And something to reflect on from Prayers and Verses
This is what God says:
“I myself will look for my people and take care of them
in the same way as shepherds take care of their sheep.
“I will bring them back from all the places where they were
scattered on that dark, disastrous day.
“I will lead them to the mountains and the streams
of their own land, so they may make their home
amid the green pastures.
“I shall be their God, their Good Shepherd;
they will be my people, my flock.”
From Ezekiel 34
Some more to think about:
You might like to look at the pictures above. What do you see in them?
You could ask God to help you see, and respond, to the stories and images.
Are you part of the flock, or do you feel a little lost?
Is this flock safe?
Where would you like to be?
How do you respond to the bound lamb?
You can find the story of The Good Shepherd here.