Sunday, April 13, 2008
lost sheep and good shepherds and luke 15: missional revised version
Updated: I thought this was a really thoughtful post that would get some good comment going about our images of mission and the place of the Bible. The silence is deafening. Oh well!
In preparing to speak at the Sharpening the Middle yesterday (my 3rd full day of speaking in 8, and I am stuffed), I began to wonder if Luke 15:3-7 is actually a profoundly unhelpful text for the missional church.
Mission is named as the church who sends out the shepherd. Fine so far. But it reduces mission to the responsibility of the one, paid professional. The shepherd finds the sheep, which is returned, and so the congregation rejoices. But the congregation is reduced to passivity, almost to voyeurism. Equally, the process of mission, of searching and seeking, is reduced to an event, the moment in which the lost sheep appears. Mission becomes the “altar call” moment.
So here’s my Missional revised version of Luke 15:3-7. In offering this, I am not wanting to downplay Scripture. Rather, I am wanting to invite us to consider how our imaginations are shaped by Biblical texts, and the impact of that upon our paradigms.
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t she leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until she finds it? And when she finds it, she joyfully sits down. Then she calls the friends and neighbors of the lost sheep together. And as this moment, as a new missional congregation is planted, the shepherd and existing congregation burst out ‘Rejoice; the lost sheep is found.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
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