I was reading the "lost " parables last evening ( Luke 15 ); the lost coin, the lost sheep and the prodigal son. And slowly in my mind I could feel things shifting, I tried to reach for something, a handle, anything...but it was too late. Here I was upside down, all perception had changed, I had to reorient myself. Now I was " lost " ... initially I saw from the point of view of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. Now, it's this awkward view from being in the midst of the ninety-nine sheep that God doesn't seem to rejoice over, the nine coins that the woman just seems to take for granted, and the older son who humanly speaking seems somewhat justified for being overlooked.
In his home town of Nazareth, Jesus gives an inaugural sermon (Lk4:16-28) that gained him applause at first...until the people understood what in the heck he was saying! Then they tried to throw him over the nearest cliff.
Jesus began by quoting the familiar prophecy from Isaiah, about God's mission being aimed at poor people, the oppressed, the blind and the broken. Everybody said, " Right on! preach it brother." But Jesus made the "mistake" of turning the message around. He couldn't have jammed his foot any further into his mouth had he got up to address a white middle-class suburban congregation and said, " God doesn't care about this church,"
The " punch " of these lost parables comes when we turn them around, upside down. The parables are kind of like Trojan-horses. Jesus wasn't about to take the same approach that he took before the hometown folks. He wanted to make the same point to these cozy and comfy, " white middle class, suburban " church folk ", and to the " pastors " who came asking why he spent so much time with the out casts.
Jesus wanted to show them, " they " were the real " outcasts ", the prodigals that stayed at home. So Jesus lit a stick of dynamite, covered it with a parable, and tossed it into their midst. By the time the " good " people got the parable unwrapped, Jesus and his disciples were a few miles down the road. Perhaps they were still able to here the explosion.
Maybe Sunday morning, between one of the worship songs...pause, and reflect. Maybe you'll here an explosion, and ask yourself. " whose more lost, the poor and homeless in the inner city, the addicts, the mentally ill...the marginalized community of divine nobodies...or is it the ??????