November 3, 2016
by Mary Lee Brock
Creighton University's Werner Institute
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thursday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 488

Philippians 3:3-8a
Psalms 105:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Luke 15:1-10

Praying Ordinary Time

Now where did I put that?  Why did I come into this room?  What is the name of that restaurant we liked so much?  As I get older these phrases and many like them become quite common.  My friends and I give each other some good-natured teasing while holding onto somber realities of caring for parents who are struggling with dementia.  We know our forgetfulness is simply a temporary inconvenience yet we wonder about the future.

The story in today’s gospel of the woman who has ten coins and loses one resonated with me.  She lights the lamp and sweeps the house as she searches carefully.  As I contemplate the scene in her home I am overcome with her quiet determination and sense of hope that she will find the lost coin.  Once she finds the coin she calls her friends and neighbors to celebrate.  Luke tells us the angels of God celebrate the same way over one sinner who repents.

This story which Jesus uses to explain to the Pharisees why he welcomes sinners and eats with them fills me with a sense of hope and possibility.  When I sin I am not outcast forever but embraced with love.  The angels celebrate when I repent.  This image gives me freedom to learn from my mistakes and to strive to do better.  And rather than waiting until I completely pull myself together before I feel worthy of God’s love, I know that God loves me at all times and I can always rely on that love. 

It is very humbling to know that God loves me when I gossip, when I forget to put God at the center of my life, when I serve my own needs and ignore the needs of others, when I focus on achievement at work at the expense of others, when I worry about money.  This list goes on and on.  Yet I do not want to invite a sense of despair.  Repentance means reflecting upon ones actions and striving to do better.

Today’s Psalm “Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord” frames my prayer.  I ask myself:  How can I welcome my friends and neighbors to help me use my gifts in service of others?  What can I learn about my past mistakes?  How do I show compassion to someone who is struggling in sin?  When can I support someone who wants to repent?  How willing am I to be vulnerable?

There is no forgetting God’s abiding love.

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