Please consider sending in short news items as Aaron suggested for a "News from the Flock" column in our paper newsletter.  His email is:

The Bulletin for Sunday, September 20th is included in the paper newsletter that will be mailed today.  It will also be included in our e-mail later in the week.

The link for Sunday's live streamed service (beginning Sunday, 9/20 at 10am) will be:

Find the rest of our September Worship Schedule at the bottom of this email.
Devotion for Wednesday, September 16th

The Lost Coin
Luke 15:8-10 (NRSV)

8 ‘Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.” 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’

Will you notice that I am missing?  Will you seek me?  Will you find me?
Dear Friends,

Yesterday's devotion was about the "Lost Sheep" parable from Luke 15.  Today we consider the parable that sits sandwiched between the "Lost Sheep" with all of its Psalm 23 / Good Shepherd imagery and the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

This parable is short.  Taken by itself it does not have the introduction giving the setting of talking to grumbling religious folks at a table full of welcomed outsiders.  It is also about a woman - perhaps a humble widow for whom ten coins is just about everything she owns.  Like the parable, she is easy to overlook.

But the parable may be one of the boldest declarations in the scripture that God - here played by this humble woman - never overlooks any of us.  Ever.
Can you find me on the playground?
One of my favorite Bible Study activities with younger children is to read this parable of the woman and the coins and then throw a handful of nickels into the air, let them fall wherever, and then ask the children to find them.

Nickels because pennies blend in to well with the ground.  The story loses effectiveness if we can’t find the coins!

I always have more than 10 nickels, too, because until we find 10 - the children will not give up.
This parable of the woman and lost coin is often a bit lost in Luke 15.  It is sandwiched between two better known parables.

It is followed by the parable of the Prodigal Son - arguably one of the most beloved stories Jesus tells.  The Prodigal Son is about big mistakes and bigger amazing grace.  In its few short lines, it is full of drama.  It is easy to identify with the Prodigal Son, the loving father, and the judgemental older brother.

The Parable that comes before - that we read yesterday - is the parable of the Lost Sheep.  And that one fits in with our understanding of God as the Good Shepherd.  The Lord is My Shepherd from Psalm 23.  Jesus as the Good Shepherd in John’s Gospel.

And the parables go together.  Each one about God seeking the Lost one and rejoicing when that Lost one is Found.

But they are also are strikingly different.  With the lost sheep, we can imagine how a sheep gets lost.  "O this looks like a good place to go… and now this one… and now this one…" and I relate because when I have wandered far off from where I should be, it may not have been intentional to wander that far away, but one small wandering on top of another adds up.

I feel like I know something about that.  Probably many of us do.  We don’t intend to wander far, but one appealing thing after another and suddenly we are no longer in green pastures and beside the still waters.  
And the story of the Prodigal is again about the big mistake.   We Presbyterians don’t make big mistakes… and we won’t admit it if we do…  No, I know I have, but hopefully that is a rarer thing.
"The Joyful Mother"
Painted by Amy Harley at the "Painting the Prodigal Son" event at WPPC
September 2013
But then there is this story of the coins. The setting of the story is ordinary.  Almost beyond ordinary.

I don’t know about you, but I lose things all the time.  I can’t remember where I put my wallet or glasses or phone.  And our family is loading up in the car and I look to put on my glasses and I have absentmindedly put them down somewhere, and I run throughout the house looking for them.  And I find myself looking not where I remember I put them - frankly I haven’t the foggiest - but I find myself looking in all the places I have put them down before.  Lord help me if I put them down in a new place.

This is an ordinary story - chances are we all do it, but I am also convinced that it is a beautiful image of what God is up to, and I am convinced that it bears just as amazing a grace as the story of the prodigal.

So… remember that when you have lost your keys or glasses yet again, you are enacting God’s grace!

One day in the land before time when our children still went to school, I was getting Michael ready for school.  And he comes to me and says, “Dad, I can’t find my socks, so I can’t go to school today.” That’s not how that works, son!

Or Michael will come to me and tell me that he can’t find his “Puppy” - his little beloved stuffed animal.  And I will search the house high and low and come to find that it was very near him - he just didn’t see it in plain sight right near him.

I never do that myself...
Zoom Brain: When after a few too many Zoom meetings you struggle to remember where you put the kitchen trash bags.
I love this Parable because the different take on what it means to be lost and found.

For the Lost Sheep - Lost is about wandering away - with varying levels of intentionality.  For the Prodigal Son, it is about the Big Mistake.

For the Lost Coin - it is just about being lost - perhaps in plain sight.  

Sometimes we are - sometimes I know I am - just lost.  I can’t point to the wandering or the mistake - I just am lost.

And the Good News - as we follow this story of the Lost Coin and the Woman who searches high and low for it - the Good News is that the Lost is Found and Loved and Celebrated.

That’s the Good News that we need to remember, that I need to remember every day.

For sometimes we are lost.  Sometimes we are lost in plain sight.

Sometimes we are lost and we feel obscured.  The woman of the parable is described as sweeping her floor.  As far as I know, most people hearing Jesus’ parables would have lived in homes with earthen floors.  And I know that people living with earthen floors can and did sweep their floors… but it is easy to imagine something as small and thin as a coin sliding into the dirt.  Perhaps and edge still poking up a bit.

And the coin is nearly there.   And she who is searching has stepped over it twice.

And if you have ever been that kind of lost - lost in plain sight, but also feeling a bit stepped over and ignored.  It can feel like every part of you is saying - “I’m here.  Find me.  Love me. Comfort me.”

And when the world doesn’t notice it… it’s tough.
Again, friends, the Good News of this Parable is about the woman, about God who searches, finds, rejoices, loves and celebrates this lost one.

And that is good news that I hold on to.

I don’t know what culture was like back then, but at least in ours there is relatively little room for things such as grief.

And someone loses a beloved family member to death.

And friends call.  And cards come.  And love is expressed.

But so often, in those initial days, there is so much to do.  And so the one grieving doesn’t even have time to do it as the funeral is planned and necessary business tended to…

And it is only after, later, when the person is sitting in their now emptier house that there is even time to grieve, and by that time the friends have stopped calling, the cards have stopped coming, the pastor has moved on to the next family in crisis…

And it feels like folks are saying, well… her husband died a month ago, isn’t she over it yet?

And she can feel like she is lost in plain sight.  A coin on the floor - half buried, stepped over, but just as lost as any Prodigal Son or wandering little lamb.

Again, friends, the Good News of this Parable is about the woman, about God who searches, finds, rejoices, loves and celebrates this lost one.

And that is good news that I hold on to.

God is at work.  God is at work to find you when you are lost.
"I once was lost but now am found!"
One of those moments in my life that I am thankful for - where I met this searching woman - was in college.  For the first few months, I attended the local Presbyterian church.  And then I drifted away.

Frankly, it was part of a larger trend of just feeling - and being lost.  I had become unmoored from some of the things that I held on to.  I was struggling to find my place among friends.  I was struggling to find my place in my classes.  I was wondering what I was doing signed up as a religion major - wondering if I was daft to explore a calling to the ministry.  I physically felt bad - well - that may have had something to do with the fact that I replaced water in my diet with Dr. Pepper and Coca Cola - don’t do that!

And I was asked to go to this meeting at the church, and even though I had not been in a while

And at the meeting was a lady who reminded me very much of Jane Murray - who I saw do the very same thing a number of times.  She asked my name.  I told her.  She opened up a book that she had with her, found my name and then said, “Ah, you came a lot last semester, but not so much this semester…”  I don’t remember exactly what followed after that exchange, but I do remember that I was back in church that next Sunday - and every Sunday thereafter.

Thinking back on that moment, I am struck that someone cared enough to record names and keep track of college student attendance.  I am struck by the fact that someone cared whether I was there or not.  I am struck by the fact that someone indeed actively wanted me to be there.
Being found matters.   Being found is an amazing grace.   It is what God is up to.

Friends, sometimes we are the lost one who needs to be found.  But sometimes we are called to be this searching woman, searching on behalf of God, because there are those around us… likely in plain sight, who need to be found, who need to be loved, who are still grieving even when it has been a week or a month or a year or a decade since their loss.
I sometimes wonder whether social media such as Facebook hasn’t done more harm than Good.  However, I am glad that it gives me insight into what friends are up to - people that I might have completely lost contact with otherwise.

And I am also glad for the inspiring examples that it sometimes provides.

My friend Maurice is someone who I have not seen since our last day of college.  But he is someone who inspires me.

Maurice posts each morning on Facebook words of encouragement directed at all of his friends - but somehow crafted to seem like they were written for you.

Maurice knows about feeling lost. He has survived mental illness and depression.

He has wrestled with coming out as a gay man in his African American church family which he loves but in which he felt a tremendous pressure to conform.  

He has struggled.  He is honest that he still struggles.  But he also seeks to bring light.

He also strives to help the lost know that they are found - and when they still feel lost they are being searched for.

He tells people to go seek help, professional help, caring help, healing help from others.  He points to his faith in Christ as a light in his life, and he reminds people that it is okay to have Jesus and a therapist.  

He doesn’t just do this on Facebook.  It is obvious that this is how he lives his life.  He just also does this on Facebook.  I am thankful for Maurice.

I am thankful for the woman who searches for, finds, loves, and celebrates the lost.

In the parable, she is God.  She is God who sees you when you don’t feel seen. Who loves you when you don’t feel loved.  Who celebrates you when you are home.  Thanks be to God.

Grace and Peace!


Oh, and respond to the Census.   Don't let members of our community be lost in plain sight!
I believe that caring about each of God's children in our midst is not limited to but definitely includes making sure that our community is adequately resourced to support people of all ages.  At present our Census is seeking to count the people of New Hanover County - and reports are that they are missing quite a few people.   Please consider responding to the Census if you have not already done so - and encourage others to do so as well at
"What a Friend We Have in Jesus"
WPPC Virtual Ukulele Choir - July 2020
Worship at WPPC in September 

Livestreaming on Sunday Mornings at 10am - Beginning Sunday, September 20th

Link for Sunday, September 20th at 10am:

Wednesday, September 23rd at 7pm -  Online Communion Worship Service on Zoom.

Wednesday, September 30th at 6pm -  Outdoor "Parking Lot" Worship Service.
Please consider bringing diapers for a collection for the North Carolina Diaper Bank to this service.

Friends, as always, please wear a mask, bring your own chair - if possible, and exercise caution when deciding whether an in person service makes sense for you and the members of your household.
Sunday, September 13th was rainy!  However we met and worshiped on the "back porch" of Chadbourn Hall.

Sunday Morning Worship:   We need A/V volunteers!

 Watch the video below for more information.
Operating our A/V System
If you might be interested in being one of our volunteers, please let us know!
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