By this time a lot of men and women of questionable reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story. (Luke 15:1-3) MSG
Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it on your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Come celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue. (Luke 15: 4-7) MSG
In my research into the cultural aspects of this parable, I found that most likely a good shepherd, responsible for the care of another’s sheep, would be the one who searched for the one that had gotten lost. Such a shepherd would indeed celebrate with other shepherds who would understand how important it would be to find it.
Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it ? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbors: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.
(Luke 15: 8-10) MSG
In this parable, the ten coins, equivalent to ten day’s wages, were probably the household money for part of the month. Of special interest was a description of the house: excavations show that the less affluent lived in houses smaller than a single car garage which were built of slabs of black basalt. Windows were cracks in the walls about 7 feet above ground and the roof was also a slab of basalt. The floor was basalt stones with large cracks between them where dirt and other things could fall in. The woman would need a light and would have a hard time searching to find the coin. Certainly she would rejoice, and her friends and neighbors would indeed celebrate with her when she found it.
The celebrations in these parables were about things of value to people, but Jesus is about valuing and finding people. In Luke 19:10 he says, ”For the Son of Man has come to find and restore the lost.” And he tells them, and us, how much joy there is in heaven and how the angels rejoice over each person who repents and comes to the Lord.
It seems to me that celebrations come in many sizes. Sometimes they are large events: weddings, birthday parties, the celebration of a person’s life at a memorial service, family reunions and various holidays where families and friends gather.
They can also be small events: an unexpected visit or phone call from a longtime friend, FaceTime with someone who lives far away, gathering in the driveway with a neighbor family to hear from the children how their swim meet went, rejoicing with someone via text for an answer to prayer.
In large celebrations and small ones, we can still honor God and each other with grateful hearts and attitudes. This week be alert to possibilities for celebrating daily events as they come up in your life. Offer thanks and praise to God for showing you how to rejoice in each one.