Searching for our children

On a late summer evening, we received a phone call from our baby­sitter. Panicked, she blurted out, “Mrs. Pedersen, I’m so sorry to be calling, but I can’t find Billy. I’ve looked everywhere, inside and outside, and I can’t find him.” “We’ll be right home.” Leaving the dinner abruptly, we raced home to find neighbors gathered outside. They had searched their houses, yards and garages—and no Billy. They continued to search while we calmed the sitter and joined the hunt for our beloved son. My husband, Mike, searched the garage and surrounding area while I took a quick sweep of the house. No Billy. My heart sank. Where is he? Praying, I decided to take one more careful sweep of the house, starting with his room. And there, underneath his bed, was Billy, sound asleep. Filled with relief, my heart rejoiced for our son, who had been lost, was now found!

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This Sunday’s Gospel reflects on Jesus’ primary ministry of seeking and saving the lost: a little sheep alone, a coin misplaced, and two sons far from the Father’s heart. Every parent experiences the fear of losing a child: a toddler wandering from home; a young child disappearing in autism; a child abducted off the street; an adult child drowning in mental illness, drawn by addiction, devoured by darkness, or shattered by abuse. Jesus came to seek those especially lost in sin. God never, ever, stops searching for our children—his children—no matter the cost.

National Public Radio reported on a mother from South America, whose young adult daughter was kidnapped by human traffickers years ago. Since then, she has spent her life scouring the roughest neighborhoods for her beloved child. When asked if she was frightened facing such danger, she responded, “I have lost my daughter. I have nothing else to lose. I will never stop searching for her.”

Virginia Pillars, author of “Broken Brain, Fortified Faith, Lessons of Hope Through a Child’s Mental Illness,” writes of the intense search for her daughter, lost in schizophrenia. Pillars prayerfully walked through fire in securing appropriate treatment, leading to her daughter’s recovery—her beloved daughter was found.

As parents/grandparents, we have been considered trustworthy of sharing in the ministry of seeking the lost—especially our children. We name grace—God’s presence—in the domestic church by letting our children know we will never, ever, stop searching for them through prayer and action—no matter how lost or how long. We name grace as we speak of God’s desire for each little lamb, every lost coin—each human person—to be found and brought into wholeness.

The introductory story of Billy occurred after 1989, when 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped while riding his bike near his home in Minnesota. His abduction made national headlines, shooting fear into parents’ hearts and placing all parents on high alert, including us. Just this past week, Jacob’s remains were found. Reported in the Star Tribune, “Jacob’s abduction sparked an extensive search that never truly ended.” For nearly three decades, Jacob’s parents searched, and with the recent news, Jacob’s mother stated simply, “Our hearts are broken.” We trust Jesus found Jacob and welcomed him home back in 1989. Today, we entrust our children to Jesus, for he will never stop searching for the lost, and they shall be found! Now, that’s good news!

Who is lost in your family or neighborhood?

How will you reach out to the lost?

Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding parents in their vital task as “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.

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