Stories about being found

Lots of people talk about different religions as being like paths to the top of the mountain – and there are lots of different paths but only one mountain.  I don’t think that’s a very accurate picture – especially since it assumes a bird-eye-view on the part of whoever is painting the picture!  Christian faith says instead that, rather than climbing to the top of some mountain to find God, God has come all the way down and found us.  Here are three stories that Jesus told and I’ve retold for my friends in small-town New Zealand.

 

Jesus was teaching the people one day

and some people came up and complained

Because he was teaching people who were not at all respectable people;

People who had broken the law

And had no education

And were violent bullies.

Jesus heard them

And he told the complainers these stories.

 

There was a farmer up in the hills here

And he had a flock of sheep.

One hundred sheep.

After a couple of days of rain

He puts on his coat

Calls the dog

And heads over the hill to check on them.

Well, there they all are, drying off on a ridge.

So the farmer sits down on a stump and starts to count. 

97,98, 99…. No more.

He counts again. 

Again he only gets 99. 

He gets up and walks over to the other side of the ridge

But there are no sheep there.

He goes up the ridge to the bush-line,

and sees where a sheep has pushed past a broken batten

and headed into the scrub.

So he climbs over the fence, and off he goes after her

Pushing through the young tea-tree and gorse

Slipping down banks

And slogging up the slopes

Until he hears a faint ‘baaaaaa, baaaa.’

And there she is

Down a gully,

Covered in mud and all tangled up in the blackberry.

So in goes the farmer

And pulls her out

Getting ripped and mud-covered and kicked in the process.

Finally he gets back to the farm

Repairs the batten,

Counts 98, 99, 100 sheep

And goes home for dinner

And a long, cool drink

And tells everybody all about

how he got his wandering ewe back.

Just so, says Jesus, there will be more joy in heaven

 over one sinner who repents

than over ninety-nine righteous persons

who need no repentance.

 

 And then there was this little girl I know

Who got fifty cents every week for pocket money.

And down at the warehouse was a cute little baby-doll

With real nylon hair and a brush to brush it with.

It was priced at $4.99 – that’s almost five dollars. 

How many weeks does she have to save up to buy the doll? Ten Weeks, ten silver coins and finally she had them.

She got her pocket money on Friday night

And that night, before she went to bed,

She opened her purse

And counted all her coins

And there was one missing!

It must have fallen out when she was counting them last night.

So she turns on the light

And starts to look for it.

She picks up everything from the floor

And puts away all her clothes

And throws out all the rubbish

And there!

Shining in the light

Is her lost coin.

 When she has found it, she calls all her friends and family, saying, ‘Yay, I found the coin that I had lost.’

Just so, says Jesus,

there is joy in the presence of the angels of God

over one sinner who repents.”

11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons.

And a farm out by Puriri.

 12 The younger son said to his father,

“How long before you die dad?”

The father looks up and says

“Well, I’m not planning to die anytime soon!

Why?”

“Ah, I’m bored working on the farm. 

I want my inheritance now. How about it?”

So the father sold off half the farm

And gave the money to the youngest son

And a few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to the big city of Thames,

and there he got a beaut ute from Toyota

and a room at the Brian Boru hotel

and bought drinks for all his new friends

and played on the pokie machines

and three girls were fighting over who was his girlfriend

and he had a grand old time…

until one day

his eftpos card didn’t work any more –

he had no more money in the account.

So he went down to see if he could get a job at Toyota with his mates

But that was just when they were laying everyone off

And the sawmills had no work

And he had such a bad reputation in town that none of the shopkeepers would give him work

And he had no qualifications for anything either.

He sold his watch to pay the bar tab

But he couldn’t pay for his room

So The Brian Boru kicked him out

And Toyota refused to give him anything for the ute

Since he’d wrapped it around a power pole a few days back,

So he had nothing.

 

Eventually a pig farm on the plains gave him a job;

That is, they let him sleep in the barn and eat the scaps.

For three weeks he fed the pigs and cleaned their cages

And got dirtier and smellier

And thinner and hungrier

Until one day he woke up and said to himself

‘every one of Dad’s farm hands have bread to spare,

but here I am dying of hunger!

18 I will get up and go to my father,

and I will say to him, “Dad, I have messed up big;

 I am not good enough to be your son;

treat me like one of your farm hands.” ’

20 So he set off back to his father in Puriri.

But while he was still far off, his father saw him

 and was filled with compassion;

he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.

 21 Then the son said to him,

 “Dad, I have messed up;

 I am not good enough to be your son;

 But the father said to his farm hands,

 ‘Quickly, get my levis —the best ones —

and put them on him;

give him a new watch

and put some Doc Martins on his feet.

23 And that calf we’ve been fattening up;

Put it on the spit and let’s eat and celebrate;

24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again;

he was lost and is found!’

And they began to celebrate.

 

25 “Now his elder son was working on the farm;

 and when he got near the house,

he heard music and dancing.

26 He called one of the farm hands

 and asked what was going on.

27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come,

 and your father has killed the fatted calf,

 because he has got him back safe and sound.’

28 Then he became angry and refused to go in.

His father came out and began to plead with him.

29 But he answered his father,

‘Listen!

For all these years I have been working like a slave for you,

and I have never disobeyed your orders;

 yet you have never given me even a young goat

so that I might celebrate with my friends.

30 But when this son of yours came back,

who has eaten up your property with prostitutes,

you killed the fatted calf for him!’

 31 Then the father said to him,

‘Son, you are always with me,

and all that is mine is yours.

 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice,

because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life;

 he was lost and has been found.’ ”

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