Listen, God is calling, to the world inviting, offering forgiveness, comfort and joy… (LSB 833)
God delights in steadfast love – or in the NIV, God delights to show mercy. If we think about it, in a world full of sin, the only way to have a steadfast love is to show mercy and forgiveness, over and over. God’s call to repentance, with the assurance of forgiveness, is the path to peace with God – a peace that passes all understanding, for in this world we will still have suffering. Our faithful God will have compassion on us – His mercies are new every morning. We are called to humble ourselves and to wait for God to exalt us; though we suffer, we wait for God to restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us. He is the Good Shepherd, going to great lengths to find His lost sheep. No matter where we may find ourselves, we are never separated from the steadfast love of our crucified and risen God.
The Old Testament lesson is from the book of Micah, chapter 7, verses 18-20:
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in steadfast love.
He will again have compassion on us;
he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.
You will show faithfulness to Jacob
and steadfast love to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers
from the days of old.
The Epistle lesson is from 1 Peter, chapter 5, verses 6-11:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
The Gospel for the third Sunday after Trinity is from Luke, chapter 15, verses 1-10:
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The Good Shepherd (Le bon pasteur), by James Tissot [Public domain]