// you’re reading...


Lost and Found: sermon illustrations

This Week’s Sermon:

Luke 15:1-10 – Seeking the Lost

When you sign up, you can build a package to suit your worship needs from our library of sermons, illustrations, children’s sermons, bulletin aids, and dramas. We also offer PowerPoint and children’s bulletins to enrich your worship and outreach.


The full text of the following sermon is available at http://www.eSermons.com

[Members: Please see Year C – Proper 19 or Luke 15 the sermon titled “Seeking the Lost”]

The Gospel reading begins with these words: Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2)

That is the framework for all that follows in chapter fifteen: the story of a shepherd and his sheep, of a widow and her coins, of a man and his two sons. It is important to remember the situation which prompted Jesus to tell these stories and to ask – “whom do I identify with in this situation?” That’s what we do when we read a novel or watch a movie. We tend to identify with someone in it. So, which group or character do you identify with in today’s gospel reading?

With Jesus, the good guy, who tries to straighten out the religious folks? Who calls into question all they believe? Who reaches out and loves everyone, especially the most unloved?

With the Pharisees, the ones who rightly saw the dangers of too close an association with the “wrong crowd.” For what parent has not worried about a child falling in with the “wrong crowd”? But here the Pharisees go beyond looking out for people. They are convinced that they and they alone understand God and man’s relationship to Him. They are right and no one else.

With the tax collectors and sinners, those traitors, the tax collectors who worked for the Romans, robbing their own people? With the sinners, the people of the land who never attended synagogue and seemed to lack even basic morality?

1. Which one are you? 2. What ought we to do?

The rest of this sermon following the outline above can be obtained by joining http://www.eSermons.com Sign up today at: http://www.esermons.com/signup Or call Toll-Free: 1-800-350-8339.


Lost and Found

Everyone has lost something at one time or another. There is even a website now at http://www.lostandfound.com that acts as a global ?lost and found? box. Users can report items missing and users can report items found. It is a good example of how technology can help people connect in a useful way. This is a gateway site for all of the physical things that can be retrieved and returned to their rightful owners. According to their statistics, about twice as many objects have been reported lost as have been reported found in the U.S. So, the site?s users are losing things at twice the rate they are finding them.

Haven?t we all had the experience of losing things that we know deep down we will never recover? Depending on the situation, we can feel disappointed, heartbroken, hopeless, or simply discouraged by our own inability to keep up with things. Isn?t it a wonderful relief to know that we will never fall into the ?Lost Forever? category? Isn?t it reassuring to know that God will never give up on us? Let us include a word of thanks in our prayers this week to acknowledge how grateful we are for that kind of gracious love.

Staff, http://www.eSermons.com


Is Your Church a Museum or Mission?

An inner city church, located in an area of the downtown where there were few residents, was forced to a decision. A large corporation was offering them a great deal of money for their site, on which the corporation wanted to put a parking lot. The money would enable the church to move to another part of the inner city where they would find many more people to serve. Even though this was exciting to some of the congregation, other members were resistant to the idea. They pointed out that the church was the guardian of a building whose history and architecture reached back into the early part of the nineteenth century. Denominational history had been made in that building, and some of the grand figures of the church had passed its portals.

Eventually the congregation decided to sell the site and make the move to a new building in a teeming inner-city neighborhood. The pastor who was with this congregation through all this upheaval said, “We had to decide whether we wanted to be in a museum or in mission.” They couldn’t have it both ways. It meant either staying on their site, glorying in their past history and serving a few people, or giving up their past and gearing themselves to a significant ministry among the city’s people. They opted for mission status over museum status.

Something of this same struggle is indicated in this scripture passage. The Pharisees and scribes came down on the side of museum religion. They wanted attention given to those who were stable, pious and not a liability if invited to the country club. Theirs was a “let’s have our synagogue programs be for us dependable, like-minded types,” as some present-day church-growth advocates. Jesus disappointed them by insisting that the issue was one of mission: to reach out to those who needed great mercy, lessons in etiquette, social graces, and perhaps a bath. Paying attention to these “lost” persons would change the comfortable fellowship the scribes and Pharisees enjoyed at the synagogue, to say nothing of putting a dent into its budget.

If Only…, Wallace H. Kirby, CSS Publishing Company.


Unconditional Love

What is your view of God? The scowling judge waiting to convict you? The disapproving parent whose love you have to earn? Your view of God affects every decision and relationship in your life. Kathleen Chesto wrote to Catholic Digest to tell them about an incident that occurred in her family. Her five-year-old child approached her one day in the kitchen and asked, “Mom, is God a grown-up or a parent?”

Mom was a little puzzled by the question. “I’m not sure what you mean,” she said. “Is there a difference between a grown-up and a parent?” “Oh yes,” her five-year-old answered quickly. “Grown-ups love you when you are good and parents love you anyway.” I know this sounds trite to some of you, but have you ever really come to appreciate the wonder of God’s unconditional love? I dare say that there are some people in this room who don’t really believe in unconditional love. You have never received it, and you have never given it. Some of you are still trying to earn your way to heaven. And you are expecting others to earn their way as well. Relax, my friend, and let God love you. Jesus is trying to tell us in this parable that God’s love doesn’t depend on our goodness; it depends on God’s character. Here is this truth expressed in I John 4: 10, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

King Duncan, Collected Sermons, http://www.Sermons.com


Hey Blockhead, I Love You

I remember reading a Peanuts cartoon strip in which Lucy comes up to Charlie Brown and does something that is very unusual for her. She says, ?I love you.? But Charlie Brown keeps responding by saying, ?No, you don’t.? And each time Lucy answers a little louder, ?Yes I do, I really love you.? But Charles Brown has been rejected so many times he keeps saying, ?It can’t be true.? So in the last square, Lucy has reached the limit of her patience and she screams out in a loud voice, ?Hey stupid, I love you!?

I wonder if God has to do that with us sometimes. I mean, what does it take to get through? Does he have to yell out: Hey blockhead, I love you? Can’t you see that God will literally turn this world upside down in his search for one human soul? Maybe you fell like God has been turning your world upside down a little bit lately. Well, that’s love at work. And the supreme sign of that love is the gift of Christ Jesus.

Staff, eSermons.com.


Enter Fully into the Light

Ralph Milton tells of the teacher who, for reasons of her own, asked the kids one day, “If all the bad children were painted red and all the good children were painted green, which color would you be?”

Think about it. What color would you be? Red or Green? It is a tough question isn’t it when you pose only two options.

One very wise child answered the teacher: “Striped”

The reason I am going on about this point is simple. It seems to me that in the frame of the story – everyone but Jesus is striped. And that in the world today – it is the same.

We are a curious combination of the lost and the found. We are striped. We are – in some sense – not completely complete. It is hard language, this language of lost and found, especially for folks in the middle, as most of us are most of the time. It seems too absolute.

Rarely are we completely lost. And rarely are we completely found. There is always a part of us that needs to be dragged and cajoled into the light, and there is always a part of us that is already there. Some more – some less. But always something.

The wonderful thing is – that God wants us to enter fully into the light. The wonderful thing is that God wants to bless us all richly to keep us safe, to make us strong, to help us be like a Shepherd who really cares for his sheep, like a poor widow who really values all her coins.

Richard Fairchild, Seeking the Lost


The Church Is No Place for Joy

In church the other Sunday I was intent on a small child who was turning around smiling at everyone. He wasn’t gurgling, spitting, humming, kicking, tearing the hymnals, or rummaging through his mother’s handbag. He was just smiling. Finally, his mother jerked him about and in a stage whisper that could be heard in a little theater off Broadway said, “Stop grinning! You’re in a church!” With that, she gave him a belt on his hind side and as the tears rolled down his cheeks added, “that’s better,” and returned to her prayers. I wanted to grab this child with the tear-stained face close to me and tell him about my God. The happy God. The smiling God, the God who had to have a sense of humor to have created the likes of us.

Erma Bombeck


It Is a Big Ocean

H.H. Staton in his book, “A Guide to the Parables of Jesus” tells the story of having been on an ocean liner headed to the Middle East.

Nine hundred miles out to sea a sail was sighted on the horizon. As the liner drew closer, the passengers saw that the boat – a small sloop flying a Turkish flag – had run up a distress signal and other flags asking for its position at sea. Through a faulty chronometer or immature navigation the small vessel had become lost. For nearly an hour the liner circled the little boat, giving its crew correct latitude and longitude. Naturally there was a great deal of interest in all the proceeding among the passengers of the liner. A boy of about 12 standing on the deck and watching all that was taking place remarked aloud to himself – “It’s a big ocean to be lost in.”

It is a big universe to be lost in, too. And we do get lost – we get mixed up and turned around. We despair, we make mistakes, we do evil to each other. We deserve the wrath of God and that is what the Pharisees who criticized Jesus maintained. But Jesus understood God more. He knew God as a Shepherd in search of the one lost sheep. He knew God as a woman searching in the dark, in the crevasses, for that valuable coin. In the end it was Jesus’ view of God which prevailed and not his critics.

Adapted by Brett Blair from a sermon by Richard J. Fairchild


Create Him Not

The love of God is indescribable but a old Jewish legend does a pretty good job. It describes what happened when God created man. The legend says God took into counsel the Angels that stood about his throne. The Angel of Justice said; ‘Create him not ? for if you do he will commit all kinds of wickedness against his fellow man; he will be hard and cruel and dishonest and unrighteous.’ The Angel of Truth said, ‘Create him not ? for he will be false and deceitful to his brother and even to Thee.’ The Angel of Holiness stood and said; ‘Create him not ? he will follow that which is impure in your sight, and dishonor you to your face.’

Then stepped forward the Angel of Mercy, God’s most beloved, angel, and said; ‘Create him, our Heavenly Father, for when he sins and turns from the path of right and truth and holiness I will take him tenderly by the hand, and speak loving words to him, and then lead him back to you.’

Brett Blair, eSermons.com


The Paradox of Christian Life

There’s a strange paradox about the Christian life. Often, it’s more about being lost than found. It’s more about feeling incomplete than whole. It’s more about feeling excluded than included, because many of us live in those places most of the time.

But that’s why we need redemption. That’s why conversion is at the heart of who we are, because we all get lost in the desert, even when we’re part of the fold. And we all need someone out there, willing to go looking for us. We’re always in the process of trying to turn back, to find our way home again. And it’s a struggle.

But it’s a joyful struggle, because repentance is a joyous activity. It’s the endless way that we turn back toward the truth and wholeness. How great is that? And life becomes this process of shouldering one another, of walking each other home. And sometimes we’re the carrier, and sometimes we’re being carried.

But all the time, it’s a movement toward wholeness, toward being included again, toward being under one roof again. A sheep. A coin. Two sons. Us.

And what joy at being found.

Edward Beck, The Joy of Being Lost and Found


Kierkegaard’s Four Steps in the Religious Quest

There was a man by the name of Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher back in the 19th century. The interesting thing is that his writings did not make a real impact on thought and religion until our century. In some of his writings he talks about several different steps that we as human beings take in the religious quest. The first level he talks about is the aesthetic level. Now you do not have to worry about the technical name. Just trust me that the first level is called the aesthetic level. What he talks about is that in this level people dabble in life, trying to enjoy its pleasures. The key word of this level is pleasure-seeking. The second level of life is the ethical level. That is when people begin to take life seriously and the issues of life seriously and give themselves to seeking the good. The first level pleasure, the second level the good. The first level casual dabbling, the second level earnest living. The third level, he says, is divided into two and he c! alls them Religion One and Religion Two. Religion One has to do with what we were talking about in this bumper sticker where we seek the truth, where we yearn, where we reach out to find this something extra we know is somehow a part of life. That is Religion One and the emphasis there is on truth. So you go pleasure, good, truth.

But he said there is another level that we have discovered. This level is revealed in the scriptures…

For the rest of this illustration and for additional illustrations and sermons for Proper 19 and Luke 15, as well as many sermons and illustrations for the Old Testament and Epistle readings, can be accessed at http://www.eSermons.com.

Please visit http://www.eSermons.com/signup to sign up on our secure page.

Members check out the illustrations for this week under the ‘This Week’ tab many for additional resources.


Comments are disallowed for this post.

Comments are closed.