Sermon by Pastor Paul J. Olson
September 14-15, 2019
There are between 105 million and 2 billion parking spaces in America, and your car is probably in one of them. But where? That’s not a hard question while you are parked in this church lot.
Now think Disney World. Those parking lots have more than 32,500 slots on 132 acres, and every day a good number of guests cannot remember where they left their car. Visitors may not pay attention or they may have a rental car whose color and make they haven’t noticed, but even if they have, it’s identical to several hundred other cars nearby. Disney employees do what they can to help absent-minded visitors observe where they park.
Each parking section has a Disney character name clearly identified with prominently posted pictures: Dopey, Sleepy etc. As arriving guests board the trams that carry them into the park, the tram drivers tell the visitors what lot they are in and urge them to take note. Still, so many people fail to remember that Disney employs a small army called “the parking cast” whose job is to reassure these flummoxed folks and reunite them with their autos.
Only Disney would create a cast for the entertainment event called “Finding Your Car”! The parking cast uses an array of tools, including perseverance, technology, clues from the guests, as well as guests pushing their key fob to activate their car alarm. We don’t know if the members of Disney’s parking cast have a favorite Bible passage, but the two parables today are good candidates. Jesus gives us two parables in this Gospel reading for today. Both stories are about loss. Both stories are about rejoicing.
Jesus has attracted large crowds, including tax collectors and sinners. Tax collectors were the lackeys of the hated Romans, often overcharging the hapless population to line their own pockets. Sinners included those who failed to observe ritual law and those guilty of other moral failings. Tax collectors and sinners knew that they were in the wrong and were drawn to Jesus, hoping that he can make things right.
So Jesus the storyteller shares these parables, one about a shepherd looking for a lost sheep and the other about a woman looking for a lost coin.