United Presbyterian Church of West Orange

“Lost and Found!”

January 21st, 2024

Commissioned Pastor Rose Sheehan


     Today we read about the Parable of the Lost Sheep, Parable of the Lost Coin and the Parable of the Lost Son. The Parable of the Lost Sheep also appears in the Gospel of Matthew. It is the first of three parables that Jesus tells the Pharisees and religious leaders. It is about a shepherd who leaves his flock of ninety-nine sheep in order to find the one sheep that is lost. Most people think that the idea of a Shepard leaving 99 sheep to go find 1 sheep – is foolish. Why would a Shepard do that? Well, God is our Shepard and God values every life, every person, God loves and cares about each and everyone of us! God cares about Rev. Becca, and Molly, and Judy and Martha, (insert names) everyone here and on Zoom and the homeless person on the street, every person! God is looking for the Lost sheep and wants to help them find their way home. Maybe you are one of the 99 and God knows that you are ok right now and God is searching for the one who is lost and wants to show them the path and God’s love and also wants us to look out for and help the lost sheep! The Scripture states: ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.


     The two parables that follow The Parable of the Lost Sheep , in Luke's Gospel are those of the woman and her Lost Coin, and then the parable of the Lost /Prodigal Son. These parables all share the themes of being lost, searching, and rejoicing!


     Today, I like to start with a focus on the woman and the one lost coin. It is worth recognizing that this is the only time in the Bible where this parable is told only once unlike many other Parables that are repeated elsewhere in the Bible. Also, that the parable before it is about a man and after it is about a son and this one is about a woman.


     In one interpretation I read, the woman is described as poor and the ten silver coins, corresponded to ten days' wages, which "likely represents the family budget for 10 days or longer. That coin was lost but it was not forgotten. The woman knew that she originally had ten coins. She counted them over carefully and she found only nine, but she knew that there was one more and that it ought to be in her hand.


    Now, put yourself in the place of that woman. She probably spent a lot of time looking for that one coin under furniture, she may have double checked every part of the house, looked in between the cushions, in all her safe hiding spots, I think she probably got frustrated with all that searching. You can imagine her frustration and her urgency, she seemed to know it was in the house somewhere. She probably also experienced fear when thinking how she might not make it through that week if she could not find that coin.


     Haven’t we all lost or misplaced something like our car keys or phone or money-I know my husband and I have – For the record, my husband is usually the one who loses stuff which adds to my frustration - and I am mostly the one who finds the missing items!


     In our house I have spent a lot of time looking for something that got lost or misplaced and we both get frustrated with all the searching. I have spent a lot of time looking under couch’s, retracing where we last saw it last, looking in between cushions and getting more and more frustrated if I can’t find it. Usually, I stop myself at some point, take a couple of breaths, a couple of more minutes to clear my mind, do a mini meditation and always say some prayers and if I find it I am ecstatic!


     Based on my experiences with this, I can imagine the extent of joy that women in our Bible Parable felt when she found her missing coin.

It states in the passage that she calls her friends and neighbors together and says “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin! “(perhaps she spent some of that coin on food for that celebration with her neighbors).


    One lesson of good news in this Bible Parable is we can rejoice when we find what we are searching for. It is good to keep searching for God, for God’s help and for ways to show God’s Love to other people, especially the Lost Sheep.


    Now, I like to tell a true story that I saw on 60 minutes. It is about an Architect named Chris Downey; he was 45 years old and he had pretty

much constructed the life he'd always wanted. An architect with a good job at a small housing firm outside San Francisco, he was happily married, with a 10-year-old son. He was an assistant little league coach and avid cyclist. Then Chris noticed a problem while playing catch with son, Renzo. The ball kept coming in and out of sight. His vision was getting blurred. After many tests, the cause turned out to be a tumor near his optic nerve in his brain. The doctor said this was operable and that he must have this surgery. The Doctor explained that there was only an outside chance of him going blind but that in all the surgeries that this doctor had performed he never had a patient who lost his sight. Chris had surgery, and the tumor was safely removed.


    But, 2 days later Chris’s sight started to fail and by the 3rd day, Chris was left completely and permanently Blind.


    Now, much more than money, Chris lost his sight and a very important part of his life and his career. Someone said to him, I cannot imagine how hard that must be to have a career that depends on sight & have that taken away from you.


    At first, Chris felt fear, confusion and vulnerability, but then he started to think about how blessed he was to be alive and how his son still had a father-you see Chris’s dad had died when Chris was only 7. So, Chris started to think about all the good in his life and he started on a mission to rebuild his life. When the social worker said let’s talk about your career alternatives - Chris said no-let’s not.



      He searched and found a printer that could mark architectural drawings so that he could read and understand them through touch, he invented a new Braille way to read the drawings, and he came up with a way to "sketch" his ideas onto the plans using a simple children's toy-flexible wax sticks that he shapes to show his modifications to others.

He figured out several ways to identify buildings and structures with his walking stick. Tap of his walking stick, he could tell if he was under an Overhang and also detected other types of building structure by sounds bouncing off the walls. Not only did Chris stay an Architect; he got better at his job and he gives back by working with Blind organizations and by helping others realize their dreams. He also found a way to play catch with his son by listening to the direction his son’s

voice came from & adjusting his pitch toward him. (Demonstrate an example of a man holding out a ball to pitch standing several feet apart.) “Move your arm a little to the left or right” dad. What Chris has done in the 10 years since losing his sight, as a person, and as an

architect, can only be described as a different and better kind of vision and he and all who knew him rejoiced in that.


    During the pandemic that started in 2020 and the subsequent quarantines, we all missed so many things and places; In person worship service, Broadway shows, movies, weddings, socializing, the list goes on and on. I am sure everyone can name something or someone they missed. I know I have really missed seeing my 3 sons,

all those hugs & kisses and being with my Grandchildren.

But during that time, I have more time to move closer in my walk with God, to read the Bible, to pray, to think, to reflect and to search for ways to improve my relationship with the Lord. It hasn’t always been a straight or easy path, sometimes I feel like that woman looking for that missing coin; spending a lot of time and sometimes I am looking in the wrong places and feeling very frustrated. I think we all have  experienced some frustrations. But now, we can come back to Church, we can be safe and aware of Covid and the science and precautions, but we are back out in the world, we can rejoice that today we came to Worship in person and on Zoom -and especially how we all learned

how to Zoom and adapt!

     We can rejoice over finding the lost sheep and the lost son and daughters, mostly we can rejoice because we are free to worship God here and now in a community of Believers -a privilege that many people around the world do not have!


     But on the days, when I get a little frustrated, we all have them, I am sure you do too; then remember the Architect, Chris, he took a major missing part of his life and he searched and found many ways to make it better! Remind myself about that woman from that Bible parable, she never stopped searching until the coin was found and what great joy when she found the coin! You may be lost but not forgotten. This is hope in the Lord for the lost. The heart of our Savior remembers you and people are praying for you! Rejoice in the fact that God values your life and you are not lost and alone because God is available 24/7.


     There are so many stories in the Bible about people being lost and enduring trials. Mostly, we remember them because of how they faced their trials and we can learn from their example. Our Lord Jesus faced the biggest trial of all to save us!


     God is calling to us to be like the Shepherd who looked for his one lost sheep. God is our Shepherd! We need to respond to God’s call. God is searching for you to lead you into a deeper relationship and as a result of God’s love, we respond by trying to be closer to God in our daily journey. (Repeat that line).


    So, keep searching for all the paths that bring you closer to God.

Today, I would like to share this encouragement with you. If you are looking for a closer walk with God, keep doing all you can to find the way, God is calling you today! DO not give up!


Isaiah 40:31.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

      Rejoice in the Lord, Rejoice!