• Rev. Caroline

One lost, all gained

Today was the day.

She was going to the dressmaker’s to order a new outfit. It would be like nothing she had bought before. This time she could afford the very best cloth. Yes, it was a one-off, a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, but even that certain knowledge could not dampen her spirits.

She whizzed through her usual morning chores: sweeping, washing, cooking, seeing to the needs of her family. And when all that was done, she went to the place where she had squirrelled away her money, gathered together in a bag. She shook it out onto the floor and counted the silver pieces: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9… But where was the tenth? She shook out the bag again, more vigorously. Nothing. She turned it inside out. Nothing.

Now she was panicking. Where was the lost coin? She was sure she had done the usual thorough job of cleaning the house, but she got down on her hands and knees and swept out every nook and cranny – for the coin must be somewhere. It hadn’t grown legs and left. None of her family would have taken it. She’d known the neighbours for years – she could not believe that any of them had stolen it.

So where was it? By now shedding tears of frustration and disappointment, she went over every inch of the house with the proverbial fine tooth comb. She even lit a lamp though it was not particularly dark.

And then she found it! It was a miracle. There it was, the precious lost coin.

She was so relieved, so delighted, that she wanted to shout her news from the rooftop. She wanted everyone to know. She had gone from excitement to anxiety to exultation in less than an hour. A sense of relief pervaded her whole being – she thought it might overflow, there was so much of it!

Suddenly, a fancy new outfit didn’t seem so important. It was a selfish thing, a nod to personal vanity, it wouldn’t do anyone else any good (well, there was the money to be gained by the dressmaker but she wasn’t short of business). The material she usually bought would be perfectly adequate. What had possessed her to become so obsessed by having something so much finer than what her neighbours could afford?

Her thoughts now seemed selfish. She felt ashamed of herself.

She realised she was still sitting on the floor, the tenth silver piece on her lap. It was twinkling, thanks to the flickering flame of the lamp. Looking at it, she thought it represented something more important than the route to a new outfit. Rather, it was shiny and bright, it could bring joy and laughter.

She blew out the lamp, stood up, put all the coins back in the bag and went out into the sunshine. She would go and buy extra provisions in the market, stopping on the way to invite all her neighbours to a party to be held later in the day.

She might have been wearing the same outfit as yesterday – but she felt like a million dollars.

Inspired by Jesus’ parable of the lost coin (Luke chapter 15, verses 8-10).

The woman calls her friends and neighbours: “Rejoice with me!" she exclaims,

"I have found the piece that I lost.”

“In the same way,” says Jesus,

“there is joy among the angels of God

over one sinner who repents.”

(inscription from the church at Tabgha, Israel)

Turn to the Lord,

and with him you will find

everything that you need,

first and foremost of these things

being acceptance and forgiveness.

(sculpture on the shore of Lake Galilee,

outside the church at Tabgha)

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