One day Marion and I were out walking Haze the Dog and at one point he decided to well…do his “business”.
“Give me a bag.” I said to Marion.
“I didn’t bring any.”
“What do you MEAN? That’s like taking a baby out without diapers!” I said.
And then I followed up with “WHO DOES THAT?”
My darling wife, ever quick with a retort, said, “Um, YOU could’ve gotten a bag too before we left the house. Who does THAT?”
And I believe moments like this are what the story of the Good Shepherd in the gospel is all about. Jesus is asking the crowd “Who does that?” when he speaks of not a good shepherd, but perhaps an insane one. If a shepherd left a flock of 99 sheep to go off and chase after one, he’d come back to find 30 more scattered and 20 more stolen and maybe even a few slaughtered. I mean really…who does that?
Or if someone lost a coin, maybe the equivalent of a quarter…wouldn’t they just write it off and not worry much about it? I mean who would really sweep their whole house to find ONE missing coin when they are well enough off to have 9 more?
Who does that?
We are the lost ones and God in his infinite forgiveness waits for us, keeps watch for us and rejoices when we are found. God searches for the one who is lost, even when that is impractical because each one is important for God.
And if you think that’s even close to the limits of God’s love…
What if you wished that God were dead? Like the prodigal son wished his father was when he asked for his inheritance.
What if instead of God writing YOU off, YOU wrote God off instead?
Well..what happens is that God waits and waits and even when all hope seems lost, God waits some more and when God catches sight of you, God RUNS and embraces you and there are no words necessary. God had already forgiven you.
Who does that?
God does. Always.
But the bigger question comes to us from God when God asks us “Who does that?”
When I get impatient with my wife, God asks “Who does that?”
When I ignore the needs of the poor, God asks, “Who does that?”
When I struggle to find time for needy students, God asks, “Who does that?”
When I struggle to forgive those who have hurt me, never mind someone who might wish I were dead…God asks “Who does that?”
God asks each of us to find it in our hearts to be able to forgive with ease, to rejoice when we find someone who lost their way to our hearts. And to help them find their way back to us and to open our hearts to them despite the inconvenience or difficulty we might have in doing so.
And perhaps that is why we need to come here? For we come here to this altar despite our shortcomings and God welcomes us back even before we walk through the door. We come here sometimes unable to forgive others but it is from this altar that God shows us how to love one another by stretching forth for each of us and God gives us all that God has to offer, body and blood.
Who does that?
May we be able to rejoice in what God has done for us, so that when God asks us the question “Who does that?” We can say with confidence, “I do.”
And in that moment there will be much rejoicing.