What is the relentless love of God like? The gospel of Luke says it is a laser-focused love that knows and perceives each person for who they are. It is like a shepherd with 100 curly-wooled sheep who say, “baa” and chomp grass. All is well until one goes missing. That guardian of those sheep focuses the laser of their love on that missing one. You know what comes next. They go and look, until they find that one and bring it home. Then, they celebrate. But what if we invert the telling of the tale from the view of the lost one.
The sheep was hungry. He was looking forward to moving to the higher pasture. There would be new shoots with soft roots. But first, he would go with the flock and drink water. He was so thirsty. He drank and drank. And then, the wool on the back of his neck stood up. A lion smiled at him and licked his lips. The sheep ran. Where was the flock? He saw them disappearing over a far hill. How did that happen? Distracted! The lion took off running too. The sheep didn’t know if he could get away, but he kept running. Suddenly, a rabbit dashed across the lion’s path. The lion turned to run after the rabbit. The sheep didn’t feel safe yet, so he kept running. He found himself thirsty, alone, and afraid. He called for the guardian of the flock, but no one answered. He ate a few leaves from a short bush and bleated hopelessly. The night was getting colder. He thought about lying down on the rocky ground. Just when he was thinking of giving up, he heard his name. Someone was calling for him. He bleated as loudly as he could, happily. The guardian came. The sheep ran up to him and bumped him in the legs. The guardian laughed and lifted the sheep onto his shoulders. The guardian sang songs to the sheep and carried him home.
I want to offer you one way to welcome the disabled people who are looking for you. If your worship space has chairs, consider whether you are leaving space for people with wheelchairs, scooters, and walkers to park and for their friends to sit beside them. Consider that this kind of adjustment, making space for people, doesn’t cost money but makes all the difference to the people who are looking for you. Lots of information is available on the internet that can help you make adjustments to be more welcoming. Think of the relentless love of the guardian of the sheep.