I am but a lost sheep

I am but a lost sheep

There is a beautifully written prayer in the Anglican/Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. It is a prayer to be said for the Confession of sins…”Almighty and most merciful Father; we have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done………….”
As is written in Psalm 119:176 “I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten you commands.
Thank you for hearing the cries of this lost sheep…..
(art work by Julie Cook)

7 comments on “I am but a lost sheep

  1. Val says:

    I do love this prayer, though I have had an interesting argument in recent years over whether or not we are somehow called to stay sheep. I suppose I can ultimately argue it both ways, but I’ve known some who got really “stuck on” the idea of being a lost sheep that they embraced it as if that was all we were ever called to be — hopelessly stupid and wayward creatures, as if that were all they could be. That’s rather dismissive of.sanctifying grace. My argument is that though we are found and rescued in a state akin to wandering sheep, still somewhat prone to wander, ultimately we are called to be not sheep but disciples of Christ as we live to be transformed by the Holy Spirit to be more and more like Christ and less and less like our old selves. For while I think the lost sheep image.is.a.good.one, I think picking it up and embracing it as one’s only possible identity is NOT a good thing (and all of this I mention because I think that if you have any thoughts on the issue, they will be thoughtful ones).

    • You are correct that many of us do tend to get caught in the “woe is me, I am unworthy” mode, I suppose–for me it is but a mere reminder–kind of like the Lenten service of the disposition of ashes, as we are reminded that it is from dust we come and to dust we shall return. Not that God views our worth as but mere dust particles–quite the contrary…we are loved, loved unto a great sacrifice–as so many of us are prodigals, there will be a banquet. The one found sheep verses the safe 99, oh the rejoicing. But lest I let my ego, pride and self get the better of me, it is good for me to be reminded that it is by Grace and by Grace alone that I am saved.
      And as so much of my comments, prayers, musings are said with my own self and my own faults in full view….I am not flaunting a hair-coat by any means but rather my extreme gratitude for the fact that the debt I owe, has been paid in full–and now I must go forward, not backwards, proclaiming that joyous news.

      • Val says:

        I read a beautiful thing — quoted from a different book in the posthumous Nouwen book Home Tonight, the second volume of reflections on the Rembrandt painting Return of the Prodigal Son that we are “dust and soul.” I could run with that all day. There is a lot disagreable about George MacDonald’s theology, but one thing I think he got right in the early chapters of Hope of the Gospel is the idea that God (through Christ) is not ultimately “after” blotting out each individual sin as a one-off as the chief end of the proposition (though he does do this), but what God is actually after is our sinfulness. My thought on the “I’m a sheep and that’s all I’ll ever be” set is that they never get to a place where real sanctification is on the table.because they’re stick in sinfulness “parking validation” mode.

        Many are prodigals, but it is just as easy to forget that and become the elder brother. Have you read the Henri J.M. Nouwen book Return of the Prodigal Son by the way? Something tells me you would like it very much on multiple levels. It is a very challenging book. It’s Nouwen’s meditations on the Rembrandt painting hanging in the Hermitage. It’s one of his more popular books, so it should be relatively easy to come by at a library. There is a posthumous “sequel” — Home Tonight — which is based on a workshop he gave about the first book and is more for personal reflection and application in tbe reader’s own life.

      • Val says:

        Ugh, I was one character off in the hyperlink, if you can figure out how to ditch the dead link, brilliant. What I was attempting to post was the link to “Tears of the Saints” by Leeland…

    • Val, thank you for the book recommendation as I have not read the book it it’s entirety. I subscribe to Spiritual Life, a Journal of Contemporary Spirituality…a couple of years ago the cover of one issues featured Rembrandt’s painting of The Prodigal Son. There was a commentary in that issue, as well as a later mailing of a booklet for the Lenten reading that year. I received a copy of From Fear to Love. It was a booklet for Lenten Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son as drawn form the audio recordings of a worksop given by Henri Nouwen in 1988. This was what lead me to purchase the little book I now use in my daily devotionals. Again—thank you for sharing your heart, knowledge and faith and for your interest in my little postings.—Julie

      • Val says:

        You’re most welcome, though Soli Deo Gloria always.. Gave a little props to Rembrandt and Nouwen on both counts here: http://stvaltheeccentric.wordpress.com/lent-2013-introduction/lent-2013-day2/ but Nouwen is better and has written some pretty amazing stuff generally.

      • Val says:

        I’m wondering if my hyperlinked comments got chucked to spam, because they mysteriously disappear instantaneously. I was trying to relpy with: “You’re welcome and Soli Doe Gloria.” I mentioned I gave props to Rembrandt and Nouwen in my “Belovedness” post (a subpage of the Lenten journey page over on my blog). Nouwen is better as a whole, and has written a lot of amazing stuff generally. And also, I enjoy your perspective on many things.

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