Home Service Sunday 11th September 2022

Prayers of Approach

God, we your people love you. We’ve gather today in many places to praise you, to listen to your word and to learn from you. We are different from each other: young and old, quiet and loud, serious or frivolous, tired or lively. Help us all to worship you with one heart and mind. Amen.

We come as many and as one to worship God the One-in-Three, to be encouraged and inspired, to praise the one who gives us hope. Lord, your very being calls us here; we long for your love, we ask for your leading. May we lift our lives to you today. Amen.

Lord, who calls the lost to be found, who seeks to know us and be known, we worship you. We praise you for your constancy, your faithfulness, your unending love, and your undiminished passion for the wellbeing of your people. Amen.

Hymn The king of love my shepherd is (R&S 552)

Readings: Exodus 32:7-14

Luke 15:1-10


In the Exodus passage, we see a God who is angry with his people for so quickly forgetting who their rescuer is. It would be just for him to deal with them in any way he chooses, but Moses reminds God of his loving faithfulness – and God repents! He seemingly lets his heart be turned by Moses, who pleads for mercy. Could it be that God’s heart was always to show mercy, but through this encounter, Moses’ heart is stirred to compassion for the people?

Our Gospel reading highlights God’s compassion for those who have gone astray. Jesus tells two parables that explore the importance of searching, of not giving up on that which is lost: one about a shepherd searching for a lost sheep, the other about a woman who cleans her house until she finds a lost coin. They are a reminder to us that God never stops searching for those who are lost. These stories were told to religious people to challenge them about who they discounted. Have we become complacent and forgotten the call to love all people?

Hymn For everyone born a place at the table (CH4 685) https://youtu.be/-C3PXPG0zCw


Have you ever lost or mislaid something that is important to you? You probably know that sense of panic as you realise you haven’t got it and rush around looking everywhere you can think of where it could be, and probably not in a systematic way. You rifle through drawers and cupboards, search through handbags and pockets, look down the sides of cushions, go out to the car, and ask everybody in the family if they have seen it. And then you go back and do it all again!

I recently needed my passport, which I hadn’t used for quite some time, for the renewal of my DBS certificate. I knew exactly where it was except that when I went to get it I couldn’t see it! I did many of the above, more than once, on several occasions but still I couldn’t find it. Finally I thought it’s bound to turn up sometime and stopped looking. (It did turn up several weeks later in the very first place I had looked when I went to find something else). For many other things though I might not have spent so long looking, asking myself, ‘do I really need it’ or ‘can I manage without it?’

From a human and economic perspective it might not make sense to abandon or leave behind what you still have to go off and search for something that might be irretrievably lost. We might say ‘be satisfied with what you’ve got’ or ‘make do with what you have’. And in terms of people as well as sheep doesn’t logic say, ‘the good of the many outweighs the good of the few, or the one’? (Commander Spock – Star Trek, ‘The Wrath of Khan’). However Spock also said, ‘Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end’ and in a subsequent film he even conceded that the good of the one may outweigh the good of the many. It

may not make sense from some human perspectives to ‘seek the one’, but God’s love for all means that the missing need to be found and brought into the fold.

At the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, some counter-claimed that all lives mattered. Many of those who were committed to the protests and seeking change agreed but some pointed to these stories to illustrate an important point. All the sheep mattered in the parable Jesus tells, even though 99 are safe and secure, while one is not. One is lost, alone, at risk of attack by predators. Likewise, nine coins are safe, one is not. Neither sheep nor coin can sin; it is not their fault they are lost. And they matter to God. Justice demands that they be found and brought home. ‘Justice for all’ demands that sometimes we need to focus our activities on people or persons who need justice now.

This is shown in Jesus’ relationships and attitude to people. Jesus had been welcoming everyone. The religious leaders noticed that he wasn’t just having dinner with people like them. He was also including people they didn’t approve of – and this annoyed them. Jesus’ response is these two parables. Both stories speak of something precious or valuable being lost, the effort made to find it, and the party that is had when it is found. The religious leaders were seeing the people around Jesus as beyond help. Jesus implies that God delights in these people too. Are there people in our community whom we have written off, whom God wants us to love so much that we put all our effort into it?

Who do you identify with in these parables? Could we identify with the lost sheep and coin? We never seem to get it right, always miss the mark, feel as though we are hidden in a dark corner or alone in the scary wilderness, feeling vulnerable and useless. We know that God loves us – after all God loves everyone. But when we look at everyone else, we feel that God must love them a lot more. Jesus’ parables tell a different story – God loves us so much that God never stops looking. When we realise that truth, there will be a great party in heaven.

Hymn O Lord all the world belongs to you (R&S 90)


Prayers of Intercession

God of the wayward and the weary, we praise you. We thank you for caring about each one of us – that we have worth, that we are valued. We praise you for your persistent love. May we, too, love persistently and offer the welcome that you give, modelling our lives on the greatest rescuer of all.

The cares of the world can draw us away from you, Lord. Like a coin falling into the shadows, sudden misfortune enters our lives and we are lost, rolling away from all that held us safe. We pray for all those affected by serious illness, breakdown of relationships or loss of employment.

The temptations of the world can lead us astray, Lord. Like sheep sighting a patch of greener grass, we go after what is new and more exciting. We pray for all who are tempted away from what is right, meaningful and good.

Where darkness has descended, Lord, when more attractive propositions beckon, we pray that people won’t forget you – because you won’t forget them. And as you love and care for us, so may we look out for one another – to seek and to bring safely home. Amen.

Hymn The kingdom of God is justice and joy (R&S 200)


God of the lost, open our eyes to see the world as you do. Forgive us when we fail to see the lost. Help us to look for those who need your love, and give us the courage not only to offer them signs of your love but, by our actions and words, to share your love with them. Amen.


Prayers and other material © Roots for Churches Ltd. Used by permission.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.