A Lost Coin

Psalm 113, Luke 15:8-10

I know last week our worship service went a little long, so today’s sermon will be a little bit shorter, but I hope the message is no less important and meaningful to you.

Some days, I wake up feeling like a million bucks: my hair looks good, my pants fit right, I successfully match my jacket, belt, and shoes, the dog is happy, my wife is feeling well.

All is right in the world.

Other days, I wake up feeling like a dirty and wet penny that’s been spending too much on the bottom of my shoe.

My hair feels thin, my shirt doesn’t fit right, the dog had an accident in the house, and I wear stripes and plaid.

Nothing is right in the world.

The remarkable thing about the God we worship, whom we share with our Jewish friends, family, and neighbors is that God is not more present to us when we’re successful or feeling good or hashtag blessed.

Yes, there are some stories of God showing favor to some figures and them growing prosperous and healthy, but how permanent is that wealth?

Kings David and Solomon have fabulous wealth, but at what cost?  Moral rot seeps into both men, culminating with David’s committing gross crimes against his subjects, and Solomon’s great legacy, other than the temple, is the civil war that succeeds him.

Others favored by God frequently face struggle, violence, death, and for many, destruction.

The idea that wealth and prosperity is a sign of God’s favor is both malicious for it tells us that when someone is poor or not doing well that it is their own fault that they are far from God.

This sort of thinking, at its worst, treats prayer like a magic spell, and God like a vending machine- God exists to dispense favors, not as sovereign lord of the universe.

I believe this is unbiblical.

Does the bible tell us that God is further away from us when we have a bad day? When we feel like that dirty penny, rather than when we feel like a million bucks?


Indeed, it is in those seasons in our lives for whatever reason that we are suffering from poverty- a poverty of spirit, money, time, friends, good hair even, that God is seeking us out the most.

Our psalm tells us that God “raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.”

Our God is a God who, although he loves everyone, has a special concern for the poor, and wants to see justice and equity among the peoples of the earth.

God wants to see the poor lifted up and sit them with those who are doing well.

Indeed, this is why the Bible has so many pronouncements of judgement, of anger, against those who would, in the words of the prophet Amos “Sell the poor for a pair of sandals.”

But neither is God’s concern for the poor limited to those who are poor in wealth.

The last few lines of the psalm tell us that.

In Israelite society, there were few people more in need of pity than a woman who could not bear children.

For in those days, a woman was defined by the men in her life- her father, her husband, her sons. 

So a woman who could not have children was seen as fundamentally broken.

Today, we know that’s not true at all, and that women are beloved by God whether or not they have children.

Many women have fulfilling lives with or without spouses or children.

But back then, that would have not been the case. 

So here, in this Bible passage, we have God saying that he is specifically on the side of those women who cannot have children, and that she will have a home, full of joy of children.

Now I would question whether or not this means biological children, and also, add the caveat of course, this would only happen for a woman who wants to have children, but God’s willingness to lift up those who are lowly is a unique to our God.

This brings us to our Luke reading, which is a parable about a woman, who has ten silver coins- not pennies, not talents of gold, but honest silver coins, useful for a few weeks of food, and who has lost one.

When one is lost, she lights a lamp, sweeps the house and searches carefully for it.  We can imagine her taking out the couch cushions, moving the coffee table, cleaning out that space between the stove and countertop, all searching for that lost coin.

And when she does find it, she rejoices. 

And the meaning of this parable couldn’t be clearer- Jesus gives us a rare explanation of what he meant.

Just as the woman rejoiced, there is rejoicing in heaven when one sinner repents.

To connect these two stories isn’t to say that being poor is a sin. Note that the coin is lost, and there is no moral judgement toward the coin.

I connect them to reiterate the point that as much as we search for God, God is evermore searching for us.

Searching for ways to connect with us, to love us, to let us be held in the palm of his hand.

Not just when we’re feeling the most blessed, but when we’re feeling at our most impoverished; financially, socially, and spiritually.

Thanks be to God for that. Amen.