Summary: There is joy in losing things because ultimately you find them! We, like the elder brother, do not even know what we are missing by not experiencing conversionsn, nor are we in touch with everyday grace. Celebrate! (Congregation invited to sing, severa
The older I get, the more I lose things. I leave a file on that ridiculous garbage heap I call my desk, and two minutes later it has buried itself three layers down. I set my keys on the table to free my hands for something else, and when I turn my back, those keys take flight. It’s amazing. I am getting to the age where it is all too easy for me to lose things.
In the immortal words of Dan Quayle, “It’s a terrible thing to have a mind to lose.” Or something like that!
But that’s all right. I am not complaining. Do you know why? Can you guess why I really rather like losing things? Because losing things provides me with an opportunity to find things! When I lose something, eventually I will find it, and I get the joy of finding what was lost. When you find what was lost, there is something to celebrate, and that makes up for the anxiety of loss!
Back in December I went to the Post Office and bought a roll of a hundred stamps. I came home, went about my business, and lost sight of those stamps. Well, it came time to send out Christmas cards, and I couldn’t find them. In fact, I wasn’t actually sure I had bought any stamps. I thought I remembered it, but I couldn’t be sure. So, needing stamps, I trekked over to the Post Office and bought a hundred more. That was that, until, just about two weeks ago I was getting my winter clothes ready for the cleaners, and in the pocket of one of my jackets, a roll of a hundred stamps! I rejoiced! It was like finding $33.00 on the street. It was like a gift I hadn’t expected. It was a reassurance that I was not completely crazy! I rejoiced! Something that was lost was now found, and that’s worth celebrating.
Incidentally, would you like to know how I celebrated? Would you be able to guess my reaction when I found the stamps? I threw up my hands; I said, “All right!”; and, if the truth be told, I danced a little jig. Not much. Not enough to get me a spot with the Irish River Dancers. But my whole body wanted to get in on the act. When you rejoice over what was lost being found, the whole body wants to rejoice. The whole self wants to get involved.
Back in early the 19th Century, in Kentucky, there was a strange sect of Christians called the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearance. That was their official name, but most people just called them the Shakers. They were called Shakers because they would get so caught up in worship that their bodies would just begin to shake uncontrollably. Those who saw them reported that as they prayed and as they sang, some would tremble from head to toe, some would get down on their hands and knees and cry out, even barking like dogs, and some would break into what they called a “holy dance.” In fact, the Shakers left us a wonderful song called, “Lord of the Dance.” You may have heard it. It represents Jesus Christ as the dancing, celebrating Savior. Some of it goes like this:
I danced in the morning when the world was begun, and I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun, and I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth. At Bethlehem I had my birth. Dance, then, wherever you may be; I am the Lord of the dance, said he. And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be, and I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he.
What might cause you to break out into a holy dance? What might happen that the Lord of the dance would lead you in the music of celebration? Would it have to do with recovering something that was missing? Would you dance over finding something that had been lost?
The elder brother in Jesus’ wonderful parable didn’t know he had lost anything. He hadn’t figured out that what his brother did was a loss for him. He thought it was somebody else’s problem, not his, when his younger brother ran off into the far country. The elder brother hadn’t caught up with the fact that he himself was among the bereaved, for he had lost a brother. If you don’t think you have lost anything, then there is no reason to celebrate, even if it is found.
When the younger brother left home, taking his share of the inheritance to waste it in riotous living, it was clear that the father had lost something. The father had lost a son. The father had lost half of his wealth. The father had lost big-time.