I will seek the lost and I will bring back the strayed. I will bind up the injured and I will strengthen the weak. Ezekiel 34: 16.  

When the shepherd comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” Luke 15: 6.

The story of the Lost Sheep is a very familiar one. We envision the poor lost little sheep, all alone and not with the flock were they would be safe. Or would they? Why does this sheep leave the safety of the flock and the protection of the shepherd? In Ezekiel the prophet is telling the people the Lord Himself will be their shepherd since their leaders have failed in their task.  

Looking at the synonyms for “lost” we find not only the expected gone, missing, vanished, absent , but also “abandoned” in the list. How does this sheep get lost? Perhaps the grass looked better farther away, perhaps there was a butterfly to chase. Maybe this sheep wasn’t paying attention to where the flock was going and was engrossed in something else. Then, looked up and was alone.  Or maybe, the flock got upset with this sheep and they weren’t welcome to be in the group anymore.  

No matter the reason for our being lost, the Good Shepherd seeks us out. Whether lost by their own action or inaction. Those who were so busy with the details of their lives that they forgot all about the flock they are part of. He also seeks out those who don’t fit in, those who aren’t part of the traditional groups society expects them to be in. None of this matters to our Savior. He is here for all of us, right now, to bring us back into the flock, a flock that should be welcoming to all.    

Good Shepherd, sometimes we are lost and yearn to be found. More often, we don’t even know we are lost. Help us to know the joy of being found by you. Good Shepherd, we are grateful that you search endlessly for us. You draw us back to you when we rebelliously stray from your protection. You bring us back to the group, even when the group has rejected us. Show us ways that we can encourage others to be part of our community and to follow your loving voice. Amen.  

Chris Gabel