The father-of-two from Newtown returned to Los Angeles and wanted to show off in front of his children and his younger brother. Who said theologians were stuffy and boring when you’ve got an indoor water park, a boogie board and a hipster reputation to fuel?
“I thought I better impress whoever’s watching,” Moore College lecturer Chase Kuhn told tonight’s congregation at Jannali Anglican, during his opening sermon for mission.
On his boogie board, he straightened his towering frame then rode the glassy waves underneath him. Californian Dreamin’ on a winter’s day.
But that’s when pride met the fall.
“And as I’m showing off, I take a tumble and wipe-out on the wave machine,” Kuhn said. “As I fall, I feel – fzzzzt! – my [wedding] ring pops off in the wave into the machine of this water park. And it’s lost down some crevice or drain.
“Now I’m not particularly sentimental or superstitious. This is the symbol of my promise that I’ve made to my wife, and the promise that she’s made to me – and it’s gone!”
“And so was any remote chance of saving face when explaining it to his loving wife.
“Well, sweet relief! When the maintenance team called the next morning, they had found my lost ring. That’s a very, very good sensation.
“You know what it’s like. You’ve lost your keys, you’ve lost your ring, you’ve lost your phone, you’ve lost your child…You know what it’s like when you find them.
“Have you ever considered, though, this is how the heavens, even God Himself, feels about you when you’ve been lost then found?”
The question hung in the air for a long pause.
Speaking on the topic Jesus is…Accepting, Kuhn preached from Luke 15:1-10 – the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin. It was a timely encouragement for the Moore College students and staff in conjunction with churches in Wollongong and the Shire who are tasked this month with going out and finding those lost sheep – people who do not yet know Jesus. The men, women and children who are caught among the briars and barbed wire of this world, and desperately in need of a Saviour.
It’s a tough ask but the proof was in the room.
Members of the 80-strong night service – many of whom have grown up in the church, seen their own children come to know Jesus, and now watch their grandchildren learn the Bible – had themselves experienced the sheer delight of being found and loved by God. Everyone there who had ever bowed the knee to the Lord understood the transformation from death into life, and darkness into light.
And such a transformation is personally instigated by God Himself, Kuhn said.
A God made flesh called Jesus who doesn’t want a single sheep to remain lost.
But what does it mean to be found?
Celebration comes when one sinner repents, Kuhn told the congregation. And repenting is like Google Maps. “You’re driving down the road, and as soon as you get off course or you’re going in the wrong direction, Google Maps alerts you and you turn it around…Repenting is that kind of reorientation. You’ve been going the wrong direction, you realise you’ve been going the wrong direction and you turn it around. You reorientate your whole life. And the reorientation is back to God.
“A repentant sinner knows that he or she has been going the wrong way – away from God. They turn around and find life. They only do this because God has found them.”
Now it’s time for Team Shire to share that Good News with the lost under the direction of a loving God.