• Bridges Church

Who are lost sheep?



What do you think? If someone had one hundred sheep and one of them wandered off, wouldn’t he leave the ninety-nine on the hillsides and go in search for the one that wandered off? If he finds it, I assure you that he is happier about having that one sheep than about the ninety-nine who didn’t wander off. In the same way, my Father who is in heaven doesn’t want to lose one of these little ones.

Matthew 18:12-14


Watching the news, I have been wondering about the lost sheep that Jesus

wants to find in today's bible reading. Who is the one lost sheep? Who are

the 99 sheep that didn't get lost?


In the news, it seems like I only see lost sheep:

Black Americans who feel they do not have the same place as citizens who

are white Americans.

Trans children who are trying to grow into their identities but face hostile laws

and regulations.

Trump supporters who are struggling with economic despair.

People of Asian ancestry facing harassment and assault because of a virus.

The list goes on and on.


How about you? Do you feel like you are a lost sheep? Or do you feel safe and protected with the 99 sheep that already are gathered together?


No matter how we feel, Jesus makes it clear that his ministry is to look for the lost sheep and bring them to a place of safety. If we feel like a lost sheep, Jesus wants to find us. If we are part of the flock of 99, Jesus wants us to welcome the lost ones he brings to us. The goal was for the church to be that safe gathering place, but today many people do not feel safe in church, or have been rejected from their faith communities.


The artist who made the drawing above was a pastor for 30 years, and now

creates a space a new kind of spiritual conversation. I recommend checking

out his website - he has some great cartoons that capture profound spiritual

truths. But some of the art reminds us that the church doesn't always live up

to the ministry that Jesus assigned to us.


What can we do?

Bridges Church wants to be an inclusive and welcoming spiritual community.

We hope that we can welcome the lost sheep Jesus brings to us, and not

send them away like the flock above.


Action: Don't 'Out' Someone

One thing we can do to support our LGBTQ neighbors is to not 'out' them to

other people. Being 'out' means telling other people about one's gender

identity (transgender, gender non-binary) or sexual orientation (gay, lesbian,

bisexual, etc.). I have learned through my own relatives who are LGBTQ that

they do not come out to everyone in their lives, not even all their own family

members. So even though they have come out to me, they may not be out to

my sisters or my in-laws or cousins. It is not my place to talk about their

gender identity or expression, or their relationships and sexual orientation to

anyone.


Likewise for us at church. We may have people worship and do ministry with

us who feel safe at Bridges Church and share their stories and identity with

us. But they may not have shared that with co-workers or family or other

people in our broader community. We need to not talk about people's

partners or clothing choices or life stories with anyone. This keeps our church

as a safe space for people to grow spiritually and connect with God and a

community - a flock of sheep who are found and gathered together.


Who do you know that might be a lost sheep? Can we work with Jesus to

bring the lost together and create a loving and welcoming flock? Let's work

with God and each other to welcome every lost sheep into God's family.

Amen.


Pastor Anna-Lisa Hunter

April 23, 2021



Cartoon: © NakedPastor.com

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