News today that there are only 100 days left to find and redeem your old paper £20 and £50 notes will send many households in to a panic or a bit of a flurry. Do you remember those old notes? They were rather sumptuous in their feel weren’t they and compared with the synthetic ones we have today, well I much prefer the old, large paper notes. I remember, as a child, being shown a £50 red note by my grandfather. £50 notes were rare in our household and so seeing on and holding one was something special.
But over 473m of these notes are yet to be cashed in and redeemed for valid currency. I guess they reside in drawers, under floorboards maybe, or stashed away in the loft for safe-keeping. Something that was once valuable but was put away in rushed moment is now lost and maybe lost forever.
This theme of lost and found, (especially in relation to currency) reminds me of the parables Jesus told about lostness and in particular the lost coin in Luke 15 and the lost or hidden talents that we find in Luke 19. A couple of things jump out for me.
In Luke 15 we have a woman who has lost a coin which may have been part of a wedding gift, who then lights a lamp, empties the house and sweeps it thoroughly until she finds it. Her joy at discovering it results her calling her friends and neighbours to ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ It seems she might even have spent more on the party to celebrate finding the lost coin than the value of the coin itself!
I’ve been thinking that the lost coin didn’t do or couldn’t do anything to be found – it couldn’t shout out, raise a flag or jump up or down – it was lost somewhere, unknown waiting to be found. It is the initiative of the woman that is key here. It speaks to me that God alone gives life; God who takes the initiative; it is grace and grace alone and proves what Paul writes to the Romans that ‘…while we were still sinners, Christ died for us….’
In Luke 19 we have the parable for the talents and the only point I want to make here is from verse 11, which reads, ‘As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately.’ Jesus is at Zaccheus’ house, close to Jerusalem and they are expecting God’s kingdom to appear. He then tells a parable about lostness (the talents) and in effect says that God is a generous God giving out things of value but they need to be used and not hoarded.
It made me think what if the Bank of England itself or somewhere in the City of London had lost bank notes there themselves? What if within the very centre of the central bank there are these notes lost waiting to be found and at risk of being cancelled? The point Jesus was making is true for us as well – we can be close to the centre of church, church life and all its constituent activities, but still miss the key point of what we’re here for – to give out, serve, share and use the love and grace of God and let it do its mysterious work.
Which is what we’ve been looking at in the latest Learning4Life – giving a reason for what we believe, letting that make a difference. I had an experience of that this week. I met a lovely elderly man this week who described himself as a ‘believer who finds it hard to believe’. He then asked me how and why I believed what I do and what difference it makes. And for me, it was simply a case of telling a bit of my story and what being embraced by the love of God feels like and means for me – I’m never alone; whatever happens there is always hope, there’s a deeper connection that can never be broken or removed were just three things I mentioned. We had a great conversation and I reminded him that God has faith in us, even when we struggle to have faith in God. The Holy Spirit is always searching us out, drawing us closer to the Father’s heart.
You have 100 days left – I hope you find any lost £20 and £50 notes – and if you do, I’m available and willing to rejoice with you over the discovery! Much more than that, however, may you know that God has placed something precious within your life and that it always needs to be ‘found’ and present in who you are – He put it there and He wants you to show it off and share it with those we come into contact with whenever, wherever we can.
God bless you in your searching and in your finding!