Reflections on lost and found: parables from Luke 15 (lost sheep & coin)

When my soul was in the lost-and-found
You came along to claim it.
 — Carole King

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.
Henry David Thoreau

If light is in your heart, you will find your way home. — Rumi

Questions prompted by Luke 15: 1-11 (parables of lost sheep and coin)

  • What is precious that you have lost?
  • What has been lost, then found or reclaimed, in your life?
  • Who or what serves as a guide in your life?
  • To what flock do you belong?
  • If you found what was most precious and significant, after it was missing, with whom would you choose to celebrate? And how?

Lost & Found

We tiptoed the tops of beaver dams, hopped hummocks, went wading, looked at spring flowers, tried to catcha snake, got lost and found. How fine it was to move at a meandery, child’s pace. — David Sobel

Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself. — Thich Nhat Hanh

People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost. — Dalai Lama

The wind passing over his unscarred face was cold from the snow of the surrounding mountains … and relished life as if … tasting it for the first time. The longing it brought, and the desire. All the bitterness, all the sweetness, even if it was only for a while, never for more than a while, everything gained and lost, lost and found again. — Cornelia Funke

In these two parables that he offers at the beginning of Luke 15—the parables of the search for the lost sheep and the woman’s finding of her lost coin—Jesus provides vivid images that depict God’s penchant for searching out what is lost in order to reclaim it and restore it to wholeness … These parables remind us that redemption is always God’s work, God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. The most we can do is turn ourselves Godward—and the act of turning lies at the Greek root of the word for repentance, metanoia—and pray that in our turning, we will—like a sheep, like a coin—be unlost. Be unhidden. Be found. These parables call us also to remember that redemption does not, cannot, happen in isolation. Redemption restores us to the community and continually challenges us to work toward the flourishing of those whose lives are bound together with ours. Yet while God continually pulls us toward community, redemption is not about conformity: being restored to the circle does not mean thinking or acting or looking like everyone else, and making all our pieces look the same. Repentance and redemption invite us instead to discern what we have to offer, what distinctive gifts God has placed within us that no one else can bring, the pieces that, when brought together with the richness of the pieces that others offer, transform the brokenness of the world into a pattern of beauty. And when this happens, as Jesus illuminates in these parables—when what is broken and lost is restored and redeemed—it is worth a celebration. Is not complete, in fact, until some rejoicing gets under way. — Jan Richardson

Lost Coins

You already have the gold coins beneath you, of presence, creativity, intimacy, time for wonder, and nature, and life. Oh, yeah, you say? And where would those rascally coins be? … It is our true wealth, this moment, this hour, this day. — Anne Lamott

Jesus likens God to the woman searching for a precious coin. The woman finds the lost coin and rejoices. Like this woman, God longs for us and searches for us when we are lost and in pain. When we are found by God, we gain new insight into the meaning of God’s love. — Laura Hammel

Sheep & Shepherd   The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty. — Abraham Lincoln
The human being is not the lord of beings, but the shepherd of Being. — Martin Heidegger
  The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same. — Stendhal

There was a shepherd the other day up at Findon Fair who had come from the east by Lewes with sheep, and who had in his eyes that reminiscence of horizons which makes the eyes of shepherds and of mountaineers different from the eyes of other men.
― Hilaire Belloc

Christ’s flock is made up of sheep that not only listen to their shepherd, but are also able to recognize his voice, to follow him, faithfully and with full awareness, on the pastures of eternal life. — Pope John XXIII

God is the good shepherd who goes looking for the lost sheep. God is the woman who lights a lamp, sweeps the house, and searches everywhere for her lost coin until she has found it. God is not the patriarch who stays home, doesn’t move, and expects his children to come to him, apologize for their sinful behavior, beg for his forgiveness, and promise to do better. God is the father who watches and waits for his children, runs out to meet them, embraces them, pleads with them, and begs and urges them to come home. It might sound strange, but God wants to find us as much, if not more, than we want to find God. — Henri Nouwen

Because no amount of this rebellion and smallness and bigness and self-sorrow can ever change our belongingness to our shepherd. None of it. And none of the ways we seek belongingness to lesser shepherds and wolves can ever change our true belongingness to the Good Shepherd. Because in reality, when we wander off and try and get our needs met through all the wrong ways and allow others to be our shepherd and when we are dumb and let the wolves in and when we do all the other things sheep just do, well, it doesn’t mean we are not worthy to have a good shepherd, it just makes it all that much better news that we have a good shepherd. — Nadia Bolz-Weber