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2010-3-14, 4th Lent

2010-3-14, 4th Lent

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Published by: cceureka on Apr 08, 2010
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Christ ChurchEureka CaliforniaFourth Sunday of LentJoshua 5:9-12, Psalm 32, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32March 14, 2010The Rev. Ron W. Griffin“Cool Dud”
racious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the truebread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us,and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
ll the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Phariseesand the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats withthem."So Jesus told them this parable:"There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, giveme the share of the property that will belong to me.' So he divided his property betweenthem. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distantcountry, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spenteverything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need.So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to hisfields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs wereeating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, 'How many of my father's hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! Iwill get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heavenand before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of yourhired hands."' So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his fathersaw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissedhim. Then the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am
no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly, bringout a robe--the best one--and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine wasdead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!' And they began to celebrate."Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heardmusic and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied,'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got himback safe and sound.' Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out andbegan to plead with him. But he answered his father, 'Listen! For all these years I havebeen working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet youhave never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. Butwhen this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, youkilled the fatted calf for him!' Then the father said to him, 'Son, you are always with me,and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.'"Good Morning!Today’s gospel scripture is commonly known as the parable of the Prodigal Son.It is among the best-known and most fascinating stories in literature not just the NewTestament of the Bible, with songs, books, paintings, movies retelling this story downthrough the ages.One morning in godly play the teacher was telling the story of the Prodigal Son,emphasizing the resentment the older brother expressed at his little brother. When theteacher finished telling the story, she asked the class, “Now who was really sad that theprodigal son had come home?” After a period of silence, one little boy raised his hand andsaid, “I think it was the fatted calf.”So, whether you enter the story today with the fatted calf, the resentful older child,the rebellious child, the sibling rivalries or the dysfunctional family, who couldn’t sit downto dinner together, this parable expresses many levels of truth to connect with.The scripture begins with a complaint, probably a whole sermon on that idea alone,but for another time. While this may seem to be a different story from what follows withthe man with two sons, it is not. "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them," as theopening voices define themselves and define Jesus and define others. And this parable isJesus reply.Although the world remembers the brothers,(and the fatted calf) Jesus wants us toremember the father, who cannot get his family to sit down at the same table. Both sonsbelieve the illusion that they can be in relationship with their father without being relatedto each other.
As the parable begins, if there was a breaking point where a father was pushed toofar, where most of us would say, that’s enough; I’m through, no more, tough love timecertainly his youngest son had found it. He crossed every line in the sand asking for hisinheritance early which tells us he was eliminating his father from his life, wishing hisfather was dead. The son thought he knew what was best for him. That all the answers heneeded, he had. That’s an honest way to describe the dishonesty of sin.Sin ….is what ever we do that separates us from God’s love, when ever we think we know what’s best for us, leaving God somewhere in the background of our lives,chances are we will get caught up in sin.The indication in the parable was the son was gone for a long time, long enough togo through a whole lot of money and a famine. That’s important, because when we havereached the end, when we are ready to give up and in God is just getting started. Therewasn’t a time limit. But the father doesn’t greet him with the words: Well, I never thoughtI would see you again. The parable is reminding us, “No matter what you have done; youhave not stretched beyond the limits of God’s love.”Many of us have a favorite line or part in this parable, mine is, “But while he wasstill far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. The father was watchingand hoping. We get the strong sense that the father never stopped looking down the roadfor his son. Isn’t that a comfort, isn’t that assuring, No one can stay away stay gone so longthat God stops watching and waiting for you. In Paul’s letter he tells us today thatreconciliation, restoration and patience are important descriptors of God’s love. The fatherran and embraced his son he didn’t wait for his son to approach him.I’m sure this particular detail must have upset the complainers who were hearingthis story. How could Jesus be so shameless in portraying God running and eagerlythrowing his arms around those other people those losers in society? But as the parablecontinues, the focus is not on the son’s failure or the son’s sins, the focus is on the son. Idon’t know about you but I am greatly encouraged and comforted to be reminded, God’sfocus is on us not on our past.We just found out who the Oscars went to for this years excellence in film, and thiswould be a great ending of this parable, for movie of the year. Troubled son, leaves home,troubled parent never gives up. But this isn’t the end we have one act left in the three partplay. There’s trouble in the back forty. When the older brother begins to complain aboutthe seemingly free ride that his young brother is getting he is angry, and he lets dad knowabout it.This parable is about hanging out with the wrong people. It is about throwingparties for losers and asking winners to foot the bill. It is about giving up the idea that wecan love God and despise each other. The onlyway to work out our relationship with Godis to work out our relationship with each other.

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