[This Sunday morning’s sermon tackled the parable of the Lost Sheep, Luke 15;4-7. I recall an ancient post I had written way back when I first began blogging in 2015. Then today, the parable’s meaning was reinforced when I spent all afternoon searching for a document vital for our tax return. Strange how items vanish…We gave up on the paper and were able to retrieve a copy from the relevant website.
However, each person is unique. If a person goes missing, you can’t just replace them by copying them. Every year in Australia, around 38000 people go missing. Most are found within few weeks, but 2600 remain missing after three months.
The following post is a re-blog of the one I published in 2015.]
A fellow writer criticized the Mission of the Unwilling saying, ‘How can so many people go into space without others missing them on Earth?’
Good point—and I duly corrected that detail. As a part of the Intergalactic Space Force, each recruit had their explanation which they gave to family and friends why they wouldn’t be around for a while. Yes, fixed that…but—just wait a minute—did I have to do that to make the story believable?
Thousands of people around the world go missing every day…and if I think about it, I know people who have.
Sure, there’s the famous cases. Yes, Adelaide, South Australia, my hometown, is known for a few of those strange cases, both unsolved and solved. I remember as a child told not to talk to strangers…remember those children ‘round the corner? Never seen again.
But then there’s the willing missing—the ones who for whatever reason drop off the radar, leaving behind family and friends, to start their lives afresh. And they might have good reason to disappear if they’ve been the victim of an abusive relationship, or they’re a witness who needs protection.
Each community and clan deal with this jump off the radar differently. As is evident from my own observations of this current society, they are not all like my fellow writer who would make a beeline for the nearest police station when a loved one of theirs goes missing. In fact, there have been recent examples in Australia where the missing persons have met untimely permanent pushes off the radar from perpetrators who have then pretended, through text messages and the use of their bank accounts to deceive family and friends into believing their missing loved one is alive, but just doesn’t want contact. And in some cases, family and friends have believed these lies for months, years.
Isn’t this a cause for concern? Has our community become so disconnected, so focussed on the rights of the individual, we consider it a “social crime” to intrude on another’s privacy? Is society so fragmented, that when we receive a text or internet message from a loved one, saying, ‘Leave me alone,’ we accept it as gospel, as coming from the loved one, and sit back and leave them alone? Is there a problem these days speaking face to face, and treating people like they matter? Is it possible some people go missing because they feel no one cares; that they don’t matter?
In the parable of the Lost Sheep Luke 15:4-7, the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep to search for the lost one. In this society, such a person who goes looking for the lost, the “Black Sheep” of the family, is labelled “crazy”. But in God’s Kingdom each person is precious. Our world may not value these “lost sheep”, but God does, and His people do. I guess in the world’s eyes, God is crazy; He loves and values every human being. And the thing about lost “sheep”, they may not know they are lost, they may not want to be found, they may feel invisible in the sea of billions of “sheep”, but God knows who they are. I reckon there’s a bit of “lost sheep” in each of us. When we make others visible, treat them like they matter, and care for each other, this is community; we find the “lost sheep” and God finds us. This is our challenge, to value and love one another and treat each person with value and respect because they matter.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather others label me as “crazy” because I care and want to relate to real people, rather than be considered “sane” and thus disconnected, living my life only virtually through a screen.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2022