“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” -- Luke 15:8-10
I remember that moment of panic. Something precious and irreplaceable disappeared from the last place I remembered holding it in my hand. The search began, first going through every paper on the desk, every drawer in the house, under the bed. Every likely spot explored. I turned towards favorite hiding places: under the mattress, at the bottom of the sock drawer, behind the bookshelf. What I wouldn’t give to have that precious white envelope back again.
Could someone have stolen it? Did I throw it out in the recycle bin? Did I accidentally stick it on my husband’s stack of papers when I worked at his desk? “Unlikely, probably not, and no!” I stopped, closed my eyes, and prayed.
Since I wander away from the last place I’ve seen myself often enough, it’s reassuring that God searches for me with equal vigor when I’m lost too. It’s humbling to consider the possibility that the angels of God rejoice when I’m found again. Who am I to merit such notice at all? I have no idea about that. There are glimpses when the veil lifts and holy mystery focuses, just enough for me to trust what’s there, but not so much as to soil it or try to control it with my greedy, human hands.
There’s much to say about this perfect little parable about the lost coin. There isn’t a person among us who hasn’t lost or misplaced a gold ring, precious photo or passport. There isn’t a person among us who hasn’t spent an inordinate amount of time looking for it, sometimes recovering it successfully, other times finding the gold ring by that cobblestone path after the snow melts the following spring. Or the passport zipped into the lining of the suitcase, discovered when next, you pack for a trip.
I found that fat, white envelope, containing the only copies of our family tree, priceless historic photos, and a wad of money from my grandmother’s safe. The measure of relief equaled the measure of panic.
God busies herself, like a woman searching for that lost coin, comforting the war widow and rescuing children from disaster. Since I know I’m found, I think maybe I’ll step out of hiding into plain view where I’m easier for God to see. Maybe just for today I’ll stay out of trouble so God won’t have to go searching for the likes of me, or maybe even you.
Prayer: God, here we are, waving our arms with gratitude and joy that you’ve found us. Just for today, keep us in plain sight, and we’ll try to do the same, with you.
God’s grace, mercy and peace,
The Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland
Senior Minister, Community Church of Vero Beach, Florida