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Pastor’s Pen September 30, 2015

So Jesus told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Luke 15: 3-6

My shoulders remind me that we unloaded more than 1700 pumpkins for the Pumpkin Patch, now littering the church lawn in autumnal glory. I’d like to say that what I loved most about my first shift selling pumpkins was sharing the story about how this project supports our Native American Zuni, Navaho and Hopi neighbors in New Mexico, as well as the work of the church. You would think that the splendor of fall color might have undone me, but what I will most remember from that first day on the job is this: one rolled away.

I caught it out of the corner of my eye. It was shocking, really. The stacks of pumpkins carefully and artistically displayed lay tranquil in the morning sun. Except for that one. It rolled slowly at first, with intention, like an adolescent sneaking out of the house at midnight. I doubt that I could have made it roll like that if I tried. Far out of my reach, there was nothing to be done but watch it gather speed down the church lawn: five feet, then ten, then twenty, on it rolled, across the sidewalk and out into the street, before actually rolling back, dumbstruck, into the curb. As I ran to fetch it, I half expected it to take off again by way of escape. It did not. The runaway pumpkin contented itself with rescue, as I returned it lovingly to the Patch.

Now I understand better the whole lost sheep thing. Even with a patch of 1,700 pumpkins, I’m reluctant to let a single one go missing. Instinctively I ran for it, as if irreparable harm might come to it without an urgent effort to recall. And yet, if it had been a puppy, or a parishioner who looked me keenly in the eye and kept going, there would have been much less that I could do about it.

Jesus meant business when he entrusted a flock of people into our care. He knew the pig-headed ram would wander off and get into trouble. He knew all about the bored, the lonely, the curious, the annoyed, who stride away in search of greener pastures. We never quit searching for them, praying for them, inviting their return. We miss them when they’re gone, and we’re grateful when they come back. In their glad reunion, our joy is complete.

Prayer: God, you sent our good shepherd to search for us relentlessly until we are found. Grant us sufficient grace to seek the lost, the lonely, and the disenfranchised. And thank you that when we are the one who has wandered away, without exception, without doubt, without judgment, you always welcome us home.

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Pastor Verlee A. Copeland

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Worship this Weekend

Saturday, October 3, 2015 at 1:00 P.M.

A Time of Remembrance and Celebration of Life

For Willene Whisenhant

At Jonathon’s Of Ogunquit

Sunday, October 4, 9:30 A.M.

World Communion Worship