What comes to mind when you think of one hundred?

October 13, 2022| Past Issues, Burpham Church

I wonder what comes to mind when you think of one hundred. Is it an age you’d love to reach and get that special card from the Queen? Is it the top mark in your exam, 100/100, however hard that may be to obtain? Or is it a definitive exclamation – Yes I’m in, 100%!

What do you think of? When I think of one hundred, I think of sheep and melting ice cream. Not just the counting-sheep-to-fall-asleep so the bags beneath my eyes don’t make me look like a hundred-year-old in the morning – although I did once read that to fall asleep you just need to count backwards from one hundred and by the time you have done it three times, you will be asleep. To be honest though, I usually get distracted before
I ever get back to one.

However, let us return to the one hundred sheep (I shall keep the ice cream until later). Sheep: fluffy, noisy sheep out on a Jewish hillside with their shepherd. Perhaps you know where I am going with this, for Jesus tells one of his best loved parables about a shepherd with a hundred sheep. And one of the sheep is missing.

Ninety nine all present and correct, one sheep missing. Not a big deal? It’s only a 1% loss. Should be expected. Would you head off home and not worry? In Jesus’ story, the farmer does the opposite and beyond, leaving the ninety-nine out on the hillside and heading off in search of the one missing sheep. In our wonderfully illustrated children’s version, we go on a long journey looking in all sorts of places, over the hill and across the river, before finally we find the sheep stuck somewhere in a tangle of briars. And just as Jesus tells it, when he finds the absent sheep, the farmer joyfully puts it on his shoulders and returns home to celebrate with his neighbours – for his lost sheep was found.

So where does that leave us in our one hundredth issue this month here in Burpham? Well certainly with a new take on ice cream. Will you ever be able to look at an ’99 ice cream cone in the same way? I can’t!

Rev’d Joanna Levasier

No mention of the ninety-nine left on the hill (that’s where the melting ice cream comes in… he left the ’99 – a bad pun for which I apologise deeply… memorable though). Sadly, there was no ice cream in Jesus’ version – just a farmer ecstatic about one lost sheep who is now found. And Jesus’ punchline for the listening audience – that’s how God feels about one person on the outside who finds him. God would gladly leave waiting on the hill ninety-nine people who’ve already found him, ninety-nine people already sitting in church, ninety-nine people who’ve already discovered peace and purpose in Him. God is much more bothered about the one wandering about lost on the hill somewhere. These are the ones for whom he was, and is, searching for.

And the Christian God is the same yesterday, today and forever. That means God is still much more bothered about those of us who feel lost, wandering around confused or uncertain, unclear where we are going and what we should be doing, than those who are sitting in church on Sunday already. God is passionate about everyone – and especially those of us who feel like we are on the outside, unwelcome and lost. God is especially keen to be looking out for everyone who feels excluded, unwanted and lost, rather than those who think they’ve got it all sorted.

So where does that leave us in our one hundredth issue this month here in Burpham? Well certainly with a new take on ice cream. Will you ever be able to look at an ’99 ice cream cone in the same way? I can’t!

But more seriously, whether you feel the age one hundred is approaching far too soon, or the exam results are so far below one hundred percent or frankly you don’t feel “all in” about anything these days – God is passionate about you, and I mean PASSIONATE. He would dump all the churches in Guildford in an instant to find you.

Perhaps that’s a different way to look at one hundred. Beats a melting ’99 any day.

With every blessing

Rev’d Jo Levasier

Church Office: 01483 825533