We went to the State Fair every year when I was a child. I loved the way that the trip to the State Fair was all about family and the way in which my parents demonstrated their generous love for us.
Dad always had cash. This was a day where Dad lovingly doled out what seemed a fortune to each of us four children. It was ours to spend in any way we wanted. The first stop at the fair was always mini donuts (Tom Thumb, not any of the other brands) and root beer from the barrel shaped stand next to the donuts. After the donuts and root beer were gone, we split up. Mom would take two kids and dad would take two kids. I loved going with both of them for different reasons.
When we went with Dad he was always trying to teach us things, like independence and wisdom in crowds and watching where you’re going. There would inevitable come a time when something caught my eye and my sight lingered a little too long on it. Probably I stopped walking to take a good look at the game or the toy or the person. When I finally noticed what I had done, I would look up and Dad was nowhere in sight. I felt lost, alone, and frightened.
Here's the thing: I didn’t know I was lost at first. I was too caught up in the shiny, colorful, interesting thing that had caught my eye. But once I noticed I was lost, separated from my family, panic set in pretty quickly. I would frantically look around. I would step out of the flow of people. I tried to get up higher to see where my Dad was.
Inevitably when I caught eyes with my Dad, he was looking right at me. I later learned he always had his eyes on me. He never had me out of his sight, out of his notice. He was completely aware of where I was and what I was doing, even though I was “lost”. He waited, gauging what I would do in that moment and hoping I would find him on my own, though always willing to offer a necessary lesson.
Sometimes we don’t know when we are lost. An activity has taken us off course. A feeling has swept us downriver. A compliment has wooed us toward thinking too highly of ourselves. A habit has tempted us into destructive behavior. An emptiness has overcome us that we have moved too fast to notice. We can be lost in so many ways, even while seemingly connected to God.
In these past 18 months, I am not sure we are fully aware of the ways we have become a little or a lot lost. We certainly have missed our “normal” ways of being church. But where are we lost to community, to our faith, to our God?
Over the next four weeks, as we come home again to church, we also come home again to community, to faith, and to God. In the stillness of sitting in the sanctuary, in the music that washes over us, in the faces of community, we will notice the ways in which we are lost. May we be open to discovering where we are lost. And in that discovery, may we know the God of grace and love who has never lost sight of us along the way. May we be open to being found again, by God, in community, through faith.
Can’t wait to see you on Sunday, live or online, at 10 AM.
(Oh, and there are State Fair mini donuts for outdoor fellowship this week!)
Pastor Becky Jo