Talking Point – June 2023

I AM AN expert at losing things – phones, watches, earrings, keys, hearing aids, purse, you name it. One minute it is in my hand, the next it is nowhere to be found. The other day, on a bright but cold morning, walking our dog along the river, I changed my glasses to sunglasses. Within a few minutes of returning home, I went to change back to normal glasses only to realise that they were no longer to be found. There ensued the predictable frustration of searching high and low in the house, then resorting to retracing my steps, but all to no avail. Despite messages to Caversham Gossip Girls and other local sites it appears that my regular routine of losing and finding has been disrupted.
Losing one’s glasses is not only deeply frustrating and expensive, it is mentally and physically disorientating. And it reminded me, how, as a child, my wider family and relatives would talk about those who were ‘lost’. Lost was always used as the opposite to the word ‘saved’, meaning someone who had accepted Jesus as their saviour and therefore had the assurance of going to Heaven instead of Hell.
Now the Bible has a lot to say about being lost. In St Luke’s gospel we hear the stories of the ‘lost’ coin, the ‘lost’ sheep and the ‘lost’ son. In these parables, told by Jesus, the coin and the sheep are eagerly and fervently sought. In the story of the lost son, he has been allowed to leave the family home taking all his inheritance in search of a better life. While doing so, the son blows his fortune and decides to return home only when he reaches rock bottom in the gutter. Unknown to him, his father had every day been eagerly awaiting his return and runs to meet his son when he recognises him in the distance.
These stories illustrate for us not eternal damnation, but the constant desire of God to restore and heal our broken relationships.
There are many times in our lives when we can feel ‘lost’, be it in the desolation of grief, the heartbreak of broken personal relationships, the disorientation of a change of occupation and location, or the devastation of having felt that we have failed. All these experiences can leave us feeling alienated and even at times unable to cope.
These stories of the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost son remind us that when we’re lost, we can know that, whoever we are, there is a loving God who is constantly seeking to find us and acting to restore our relationship and eliminate feelings of alienation.

Revd Rachel Ross Smith
Ministry Team at Caversham Thameside and Mapledurham Parish