These parables act as Luke's prelude to the story of the Prodigal Son,
much loved by all even if also peculiar to Luke's Gospel.
These are parables that have been much discussed and analysed:
the shepherd who seems to desert the bulk of his sheep and so on.
Yet Jesus is surely just making the point that everyone is of value.
God does not discard those who stray from the straight and narrow,
but is delighted when such a one returns to the better path.
Why does that woman rejoice over finding her coin?
Not because of what it is but because she has found it.
Her action, her effort, has made a difference.
The shepherd too focusses on the lost sheep over the rest,
because his actions can make a positive difference to the flock.
We value what we have made an effort to produce or protect.
Just as religions grow through persecution, love through adversity,
or nationalism through the horror of invasion.
We add value through endeavour!
In our religion, our faith, our church-going,
we need to be involved and finding new things
if our rejoicing is to continue.
We each need to be personally involved
if our rejoicing is to be personal and real.
Herein lies the failure of, but challenge to,
the stable and established religions of today.
Luke encourages us to get out of the rut.
However we should first be assured that our nine coins are safe.
We need to ring fence the flock before we set off to seek the lost sheep.
We need to be assured of our relationship with God before leaving the safe pastures,
for so many problems have been created by those who try to bend the spiritual realm;
force divinity to meet their own desire for wealth, fame, power or position;
even the needs of their community or congregation, or the needs of Empire.
This is the trap of spiritualism, of power evangelism,
even of the charismatic, miracle oriented church.