A few months ago, my family and I discovered a new hobby. Like many people during the quarantine, we were desperate for activities that we could do at home that would use our brains a little bit and help us to pass the time. We’d never been much of a jigsaw puzzle family, but a friend gave us one, I found a few on a Facebook group, and we were hooked.
We got out my grandmother’s old card table, poured pieces out of the box, and went to town. We put together puzzles with cats and one with a chronological history of hairstyles. We did pastoral scenes and pictures of food. We were working on a puzzle of songbirds after we’d hit our stride and were convinced we’d complete it in record time.
And then we noticed something. We were at that fun point with about 15 pieces left. But we discovered we were missing a significant part of the cardinal, and none of the pieces that were left had any red in them. Not even a little bit.
As we placed each of the last remaining pieces, we kept thinking that it would show up. At one point, we all abandoned our puzzling and committed to the search -- we looked under the rug and behind the cushions. We checked every container in the room and even searched the whole downstairs, though none of us could imagine how the piece would have left the room where we do our puzzles. No luck. Disappointed, we completed the puzzle – almost. It was kind of sad looking at the place where the missing piece of the cardinal belonged, and none of us had the same kind of joy at the end of this one.
Losing something is hard. Sometimes it’s just a little hard- you lose a puzzle piece or a book you like, a cheap earring or a favorite tie. Those things are replaceable and in the grand scheme of things, not such a big deal. But it still stinks.
Sometimes what we lose is bigger, more meaningful, more significant. And those losses really hurt. They can consume us, even change us.
We are in the midst of a sermon series on Jesus’ parables, and this Sunday we will consider the Parable of the Lost Sheep. It is a story of loss, for sure, but even more than that, it’s a story of joy.
A few weeks after we packed up the songbird puzzle, minus the missing puzzle piece, Bill came downstairs with a grin on his face and something clenched in his fist. “You’ll never guess what I have,” he said. It was the missing piece. Apparently it had gotten stuck to the bottom of a book and taken a ride upstairs in Bill’s work bag. He was pulling something out when the puzzle piece fell out.
We all had a good laugh, and felt some relief at the fact that what had been lost was now found. There’s great joy in the finding, and this week’s scripture passage highlights that truth beautifully.
I hope you’ll join us for worship this Sunday. In addition to hearing this parable, we’ll celebrate a baptism, hear some beautiful music, and join our hearts in prayer for our community.
Grace and Peace,