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Summary: An evangelistic sermon for a Baptismal service covering the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son. Email me for images for accompanying ’prodigal daughter’.

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Lost sheep, silver and sons. WBC 31/07/05am.

Baptism of Barry and Heather Mann. Luke 15:1-32

Philip Yancey tells the story of a prodigal daughter who grows up in Traverse City, Michigan. Disgusted with her old fashioned parents who overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, the length of her skirts, she runs away. She ends up in Detroit where she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. The man with the big car - she calls him "Boss" - recognizes that since she’s underage, men would pay premium for her. So she goes to work for him. Things are good for a while. Life is good. But she gets sick for a few days, and it amazes her how quickly the boss turns mean. Before she knows it, she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, and all the money goes to support her drug habit.

One night while sleeping on the metal grates of the city, she began to feel less like a woman of the world and more like a little girl. She begins to whimper. "God, why did I leave. My dog back home eats better than I do now." She knows that more than anything in the world, she wants to go home. Three straight calls home get three straight connections with the answering machine. Finally she leaves a message. "Mom, dad, its me. I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way, and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, I’ll understand." During the seven hour bus ride, she’s preparing a speech for her father. And when the bus comes to a stop in the Traverse City station, the driver announces the fifteen-minute stop. Fifteen minutes to decide her life.

She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect. But not one of the thousand scenes that have played out in her mind prepares her for what she sees. There in the bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of forty brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and a great-grandmother to boot. They’re all wearing goofy party hats and blowing noise-makers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that reads - Welcome Home!

Out of the crowd of well-wishers breaks her dad. She stares out through the tears quivering in her eyes and begins her memorized speech. He interrupts her. "Hush, child. We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. We’ll be late. A big party is waiting for you at home."

SIGNIFICANCE

How does God feel about people who go astray… like this… or like most of us have

- just a bit too busy at the mo, God

- I’ve got a demanding job and a family. Leisure as well

- There are things to enjoy

- …. And I’m not really SURE about you… so I’m sure you won’t mind while I pursue a few sure things. Concrete things. Things I can touch, taste and are REAL

How does God feel about us and about people who haven’t ’got it all nailed down spiritually, yet’?

- well. It depends on the picture of God you hold to:

o maybe He doesn’t care, really. God watches on with detached disinterest. Watches us insignificant beings

o Or it’s the picture of vengeance and wrath. God wants every infidel punished. Sinners are insignificant and should be blown up

But listen to the words of Jesus. Let Him paint your picture of how God feels, acts and reacts

- listen to Him as He speaks to a throbbing, seeking, crowd of ’tax collectors and prostitutes’ with a group of seething, ’sorted’ Pharisees listening on

READ Luke Chapter 15

"No one ever spoke the way this man does" Jn 7 (guards sent to arrest)

Jesus paints one picture of God through 3 stories. And the main thrust of them all is just how God feels when one person comes to their senses and comes back to Him

SHEEP

You see, the current feeling about ’sinners’ … was:

"There is joy before God when those who provoke him perish from the world"

And the feeling about ’lost sheep’ (those who hadn’t got it nailed down yet… were seeking.. or were scarred… had questions)… was:

"leave them alone. Who cares if they come home, wagging their tales behind them".

But Jesus sets the record straight. (you have to understand- Christians believe He spoke for God as He was God… come to earth)

- God’s concern is FOR that sheep

- That sheep is very significant to God

It’s a marvellous picture, actually. God calling people sheep isn’t always complimentary…but it is loving. Those shepherds loved their sheep

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