A friend told me a story yesterday about a bracelet she'd lost. Its value was sentimental, it's loss heartbreaking. She looked everywhere and even prayed, as we do in a pinch. When all else fails, maybe St. Anthony will come to the rescue. All to no avail.
Then she lost an earring. Nothing special, but another disappointment all the same. Disappointment on top of disappointment. She carefully searched, but in vain. Then she took the remaining earring and placed it in a zippered pouch that she had at hand. What else could she do?
Later that night, she came upon the lost earring in an unexpected place, and went immediately to reunite it with its mate. She reached into the zippered pouch to retrieve it.
I don't have to tell you the end of the story. You already know how it ends. You know that when she reached in she found not just the earring, but the treasured bracelet.
She had to lose the earring to find the bracelet. So simple, so obvious, once it's found.
But not when it's lost.
Jesus talks about lost things: Sheep. Coins. Sons. We expect them to get found by the end of the story. But first they had to get lost. No fatted calf without scraping the bottom of the pig trough.
Why is that? I don't want to be lost. But that's my flesh talking. The upside-down Kindgdom of God is where things have to be lost in order to be found. Forty years of aimless desert wandering is the path to the promised land.
Loss of heaven. Rejection. Betrayal. Denial. Abasement. Condemnation. Crucifixion. Death.
Zipped into the tomb.
And when the hand of God reaches into the sealed tomb, he raises up not just the dry bones of the one man, but the lost treasure of eternal life.
I don't have to tell you the end of the story. You already know how it ends.