Skip to content

The Lost Sapphire

September 9, 2019

I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep . . . declares the Lord. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured . ..” (Ezekiel 34: 15-16).

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one.Doesn’t she light a lamp sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?”  (Luke 15: 8)

I was stopped at a red light on my way home from work a few years ago, when I absentmindedly glanced down at my hand on the steering wheel.  I was shocked at what I saw: a gaping hole in the heirloom ring that my late mother-in-law had given me about twenty years before.  The large blue sapphire that had been the centerpiece of the ring was missing–I couldn’t believe it! How could it have fallen out? Then I noticed that two of the four prongs were broken, and the reality that it was gone sunk in.

It had been a busy day.  I arrived in the office early to prepare for a court appearance, argued the case in court, and took a lunchtime walk down Grand Avenue, one of the busiest streets in downtown Los Angeles.  Later, I met with various colleagues throughout our offices.  My car was parked in a large underground parking structure.  The stone could have fallen out anywhere. Even so, I searched the car when I arrived home, and looked all over the house. No stone. I had no idea when it had fallen out.  I hadn’t looked at the ring since I put it on in the semi-darkness of the early morning.  The next day, against all hope, I retraced my steps and alerted colleagues in the office, the security desk of the building, and the clerk in the courtroom where I had appeared.  No one had seen the stone.

The Scripture texts this week describe our lostness in the context of Jesus as our shepherd, who will always search us out and find us when we stray. The psalmist admits. “I have strayed like a lost sheep” (Psalm 119:176).[1] God gave words of assurance to Ezekiel to give to the people that he will find those who have strayed and bring them back: “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep . . . declares the Lord. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured . ..” (Ezekiel 34: 15-16).  Paul describes his lostness in his letter to Timothy: “[F]ormerly I was a blasphemer persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief . . . Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:13, 15).

The loss of a treasured stone does not begin to compare with the 2,996 mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and friends who were lost 18 years ago on September 11,2001.   Life gives us many opportunities for despair– the loss of a loved one to death, drugs or illness; the loss of a job, the loss of health, setbacks at work and school, the loss of retirement funds in a fluctuating stock market, the loss of love, the loss of friendship, the loss of a home and other treasured things—to name a few types of losses leading to despair. But in a world filled with despair, we need to remember that we are an Easter people—a people with hope in the future.

I like to think that it was a flash of light from the silver coin that drew the woman’s attention to the lost coin in the parable Jesus told in our Gospel lesson for Sunday: “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one.Doesn’t she light a lamp sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?” (Luke 15: 8).[2] We are drawn to the light—and to shiny, sparkly things that reflect light. And isn’t that what Jesus asks us to do?  Even the light from one person standing up in faith can light up the darkness in a room.  A smile, a phone call, a note, a visit, or a few words of encouragement to a friend or co-worker can go a long way to lift a person up and let a little sunshine into his or her life.

Almost five months after I lost the sapphire, I woke up at 4:15 am as usual on a week-day, pulled on my gym clothes, stumbled downstairs half-asleep, dumped the tote bag I use to carry things up and down the stairs onto the kitchen table, and poured myself a cup of coffee, before plunking down into my chair at the table. As I began to wake up, a sparkle caught my eye on the inside of the tote. It was a little stone, which turned out to be the lost sapphire!

It had been buried in the dark recesses of my tote bag for months, where it must have fallen off that morning after I got dressed.  It reminded me of the words from the John Newton hymn, Amazing Grace: “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”  We were all lost and in darkness, but Jesus found us, and his light gives us hope and certainty for our future here on earth, and afterwards.

Jesus calls us to sparkle—to stand up and shine–to be a light in a dark world. We are not to keep the light to ourselves, but to let it shine so that others may see it and be encouraged.

I didn’t see the sparkling sapphire when it was hidden in the tote bag. I only saw it when the bag was opened, and it spilled out onto the lining, catching my eye.    We too, will catch the eye of those who surround us, who are in despair and darkness, when we open our hearts and lives to them. Just as Jesus sought us out and found us, we can be a light to lead others out of the darkness in their lives.

Jesus lifts us up out of darkness and despair, and fills us with his light and hope, so that we may reflect that light to others. May you sparkle and shine to draw others closer to him.

Prayer: “May our souls be lamps of yours, kindled and illuminated by you.  May they shine and burn with the truth, and never go out in darkness and ashes.” Mozarabic Liturgy

Praying the Scriptures:  The Scripture texts for next Sunday are Psalm 119: 169-176; Ezekiel 34:11-24; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15: 1-10. Choose a word or phrase each day from one of the texts, or from the following excerpts from the texts to pray during the coming week:

I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep . . . declares the Lord. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured . ..” (Ezekiel 34: 15-16).

I have strayed like a lost sheep” (Psalm 119:176).

“[F]ormerly I was a blasphemer persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief . . . Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:13, 15).

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one.Doesn’t she light a lamp sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?”  (Luke 15: 8)

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1]The Scripture texts for next Sunday are Ezekiel 34: 11-24; Psalm 119: 169-176; 1 Timothy 1: 5-17; Luke 15: 1-10.  A similar version of this blog was originally published on this website on September 5, 2016.

[

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: