Dear Friends
Matthew 18:  12 – 14
12What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.
A very well known little parable.God, as usual is painted as being completely foolhardy in the cause of ensuring that his love conquers everything.   For what shepherd would be so foolish as to leave 99 sheep on a mountain in search of one lost one?  But that’s the topsy-turvy love of God.  And I like to think of myself as the lost sheep with Jesus finding me, tending to my footrot and pulling the thorns out of my fleece then gently carrying me home and placing me in a lush green pasture, probably with a trickling brook nearby so I can get a drink.  Told this way it is a parable full of comfort, but with little challenge.  It’s all going to be ok.  I was lost but Jesus sought and found me!  I’m alright Jack!
However, look again at the last verse.  So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.  The parable of the lost sheep comes towards the end of a longish section of Matthew’s Gospel where he is fighting the corner of the poor, the vulnerable and the dispossessed.  And if anything the lost sheep refers to one of these, rather than to respectable rectors like me!  But that’s ok.  We all want the poor to have enough.  Why shouldn’t Jesus go off and search for them if he wants to?  I’ll stay here on my nice mountainside, where the sun shines and the grass is green.  If there’s anything I need, actually I’m quite a talented sheep and I’ll jump into my car and pop to a supermarket where I’ll be able to buy it cheap, probably wrapped in plastic and with thousands of air miles of travel to its name.  As long as my nice mountain side isn’t disturbed, I’m more than happy for the shepherd to go looking for lost sheep.
One of the things I have learned from the pandemic and the lockdown is actually that despite all our protestations about not wanting life to go back to normal, wanting different priorities and being determined not just to go back to the same old treadmill, that seems to be exactly what we are all doing and hoping for.  It is really hard to step outside it as we are tied into an economic system that demands we play the game in order to get money in the bank. Any attempt to live more simply is likely to be more expensive and take more time and effort, and time is what we do not have and we are so exhausted by the challenges of merely existing in society with 21st Century demands that we cannot begin to countenance extra effort that is ot absolutely necessary.  Why walk when you can drive or buy fairtrade when it is twice the price, or grow broad beans when you can buy them frozen?  Such are the challenges facing someone who chooses different priorities, so we take the easy option and don’t.
We have lost the inspiration to change and are in danger of losing ourselves and our planet at the same time.  So perhaps we are the lost sheep after all.  Except that I’m not sure that Jesus has found us yet.  Or if he has, then we have just wandered off again.  Sheep really are such stupid animals!  Thank God for his overwhelming love.  Let’s pray that next time he finds us we don’t wander off again so quickly.
A prayer
God of creaton, the earth is yours
with all its beauty and goodness,
its rich and overflowing provision.
But we have claimed it for our own,
plundered its beauty for profit,
grabbed its resources for ourselves.
God of creation, forgive us.
May we no longer abuse your trust,
but care gently and with justice for your earth.  Amen
Jan Berry
did you guess it might be this musical offering?

If you would like to join us for Evening Prayer today (Thursday) it is at 4.30pm

The link is:
Topic: Zoom Evening Prayer on Thursday
Time: Jul 23, 2020 04:30 PM London
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Meeting ID: 820 6735 6519
Passcode: 885627

The times for Evening Prayer on Zoom for the rest of the week are as follows:
Friday 5.00pm
Saturday 5.00pm
Sunday worship:   Parish Communion at 9am in church, Zoom Worship at 10.30am and  Sunday Evening Prayer is at 6pm on Zoom
We hold Morning Prayer and some Evening Prayer in church nearly every day (see the pew leaflet for details).  You are welcome to join us.
Every blessing