I don’t often talk about puzzles, but sometimes they make an illustration easier for me. Below is a picture of the new puzzle I’m working on. It is a 40,000 piece Disney movie puzzle, ten different pictures of animated Disney films. The first one, which I just completed, was The Lion King. It took longer than I expected to finish, because there were more important things I needed to do.
About six weeks ago, I realized there was a piece missing. I feared that it might have been eaten up by the vacuum cleaner, or that I had misplaced it when I stored the puzzle for a couple weeks. I kept searching for it amongst the other pieces that I laid out, or in the original storage bag. The piece wasn’t there.
From time to time, I would stop working other sections of the puzzle to be sure that the elusive piece wasn’t still among the ones I hadn’t placed yet. I even wondered if I had mixed it up with another puzzle that I started working on during a break. I considered purchasing a replacement puzzle, but because of the pandemic the price is well over $1,000, more than I am willing to pay. So I resigned myself to the fact that when I finished The Lion King there would be one piece missing. I felt like the woman in Luke who searched for the lost coin (Luke 15: 8-10).
And of course…..I found it! It was hidden under a section of the completed puzzle. I felt so relieved once I found it. It seemed that the rest of the puzzle took no time to complete. That’s when I realized that I had been distracted by searching for the missing piece. Every couple of days, I looked for that piece. Even as I worked other sections of the puzzle, my eyes kept drifting back to that empty spot.
The parable of the lost coin is one of three parables that Jesus shares with the disciples, encouraging them to seek those who are separated from the group, whether it is a sheep, a coin or a child who makes the wrong choices. I never thought I would be like the woman who lost a silver coin. My son’s response to finding the piece was classic. He said: “There are thousands of others.”
He isn’t wrong. But I can’t help but think that our role as servant leaders, whether we are laity or clergy, is to do what we can to find the missing pieces of our faith communities. Which persons are still searching for how to answer the call God has placed upon their lives and in their hearts? What missions and ministries aren’t happening because we haven’t found the right person or the right way to plant seeds which will bear fruit? What needs in our neighborhoods are nagging at us? How is our Lord continuing to shape and mold us for what is to come?
It’s not a comfortable or easy feeling. I don’t believe that the Lord wants us to settle or be comfortable with where we are. The pandemic has made us aware that we can reach people online, offering a relationship with our Lord to people who may never come to our worship places and spaces. How do we connect with those who are unchurched, or the nones around us?
There are numerous ways that we can search for the lost, rejoicing when we can help them find the right fit for their gifts and talents. The Holy Spirit works within all of us individually and communally to fulfill God’s mission for all of creation. May we continue to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. And Amen.