James Moore is a former pastor of St Luke’s UMC…in Houston, TX that is! In one of his books he tells about getting lost at the circus when he was seven years old. Over 20,000 people were in the arena and he had walked with his older brother to get some cotton candy. There were lots of people shoving one another at the counter. Since his brother was taller, he was seen and served first. He got his cotton candy and stepped aside to wait for Jim, at least he was supposed to do that!
When he heard a thunderous applause inside the arena, then fireworks and the ringmaster’s voice on the speaker, he ran inside to see what was happening. But then a security person told him he couldn’t stand in the aisle and asked to see his ticket. He fished it out of his pocket and handed it to the person who promptly escorted him to his seat. When he sat down his father quickly asked, “Where’s your brother?” He had no more than said, “I don’t kn…” when their dad bolted out of his chair to go looking.
In the meantime Jim got his cotton candy but when he turned to where his brother was supposed to be waiting, no one was there. He felt sick at his stomach. He was all alone in a mass of people who couldn’t seem more unconcerned. He didn’t know how to find his way back. Every entrance ramp looked the same. He start to run trying to fight back tears wondering if he’d ever see his family again.
Just then he felt a hand grab his shoulder. It was his dad. When he picked Jim up in his arms Jim broke down in tears. His dad calmed him down then bought him a coke, a hot dog, a yo-yo, a stuffed bear and a candy apple. Jim Moore concludes the story saying, “I learned a valuable lesson that day: Being lost is terrible; being found is wonderful!”
Ever been lost? Ever been found? God created a lost and found area on earth. It’s called the church. At least that is what the church is supposed to be, a community that cares enough about all people that we do what it takes to seek those needing to be found, needing to know they are loved, needing support and healing and hope.
The verse of scripture most identified with the mission of the church is Matthew 28:19. The resurrected Jesus is about to ascend to heaven. In one last face-to-face with his followers he gives this parting commission: “Go make of all, disciples…” What exactly is Jesus telling them to do? They were the ones called disciples. Go make the same of others. That doesn’t mean change them, threaten them or coerce them to believe as they do. It was Jesus’ simple way of saying, “Share what you’ve found since you got to know me.” Have you found hope? Have you found new meaning in your life? Have you found an ability to come to love people you wouldn’t have chosen to be around just a few years earlier? Have you experienced God? Have you experienced God’s power in your life? Then go share it.
Sometimes we forget what it’s like to be lost and that for many people they are trapped in the circus of life. They just need someone who cares enough to notice and invite them to the place where they feel found.
See you Sunday as we think further about the importance of this thing called church!