On Being Found
On Being Found
TEXT: Ezekiel 34: 11-16, 20-24
Move 1: Introduction
Through the prophet Ezekiel the Lord God speaks comforting, encouraging words to the people. The Lord's work is to “seek the lost, bring back the strayed, bind up the injured, and strengthen the weak.” Listen for the Word of God in Ezekiel 34: 11-16:
“For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.” (Ezekiel 34:11-16, NRSV)
Prayer for Enlightenment
Move 2: On Being Lost
Have you ever been lost, I mean really lost? Do you remember how it felt?
When I was a boy, pre-kindergarten, my parents took me to Gold’s Department Store in downtown Lincoln to see Santa Claus. It was a great day. I was so excited. We made our way closer and closer to the red rope line that separated the children and their parents from Santa Claus, and we were surrounded by more toys than I had ever seen before.
As I look back I realize with my cynical mind that these were not just decorations. The store managers put all these wonderful toys close to the line of children so that no boy or girl could forget to ask for the toy they really wanted most. It was all part of an elaborate marketing strategy to make sure the children asked their parents for all the best stuff for Christmas. But I digress.
I finally made it to the front of the line and it was my turn to sit on Santa’s lap. By now I was trembling and I had butterflies swarming in my stomach. The walk from my parents up to Santa’s throne was no more than 10 feet, I suppose, but it seemed like I was walking a mile through a thick, muddy bog. When I reached Santa I was nearly speechless. We had a little conversation, I told Santa I had been a good boy, and then I told him what I wanted for Christmas.
The walk back to my parents went much faster. The butterflies were gone–replaced by a craving for a chocolate soda. I always got a chocolate soda when I went to the doctor or dentist–anything heroic. And visiting Santa Claus was an act of heroism for me. So, what’s this got to do with being lost or with the passage from Ezekiel?
Right after my visit to Santa Claus my parents explained that they needed to see Santa Clause to place an order. “So, stand right here and we’ll be right back.” And they left me, standing alone, in the basement of Gold’s department store. They were gone for 1 minute, then for two. By now I was getting worried. Maybe they god lost, maybe they forgot where they left me. Three minutes, four minutes; the butterflies were back with their buddies and I was feeling quite ill. Five minutes and the tears began to form. By the end of seven minutes I was crying, I was sobbing, and my shoulders were shaking. They weren’t lost, I was. How will I ever get home?
Move 3: On Being Found
Just then a heavy set woman approached me. She put her arms around me and said, “Jerry, where are your parents?” She knew my name–this angel from God knew me. I wasn’t lost anymore. Turned out my Aunt Nellie worked at Gold’s in the basement and she found me and stayed with me until my parents came back. We talked and I don’t remember her words, but I remember how I felt. And as I read these words of Ezekiel I had the same feeling. Someone who loves me knows be by name. And that someone will be with me all the way home.
Move 4: The Good Shepherd
It is the Lord, Jesus who seeks for the lost, knows us by name. It is the Lord who stands with us when we are lost and stays with us until we return safely home. It is Jesus who says, “I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. . . . I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; . . . I will feed them with good pasture, . . . they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture . . . I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down [and give them rest], says the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak. . . .”
Move 5: Words of Assurance
This is the Gospel, the Promise of God. Amen