Worship at Home for Sunday March 27

Dear Friends,

This Sunday is the Fourth Sunday in Lent. The Gospel lesson is the familiar story of the Prodigal Son, but I would like to encourage you to imagine yourself in each of the different roles as you read the story. This may give you some new insight about the story of God’s reconciling love.

If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church) or 573-832-2475 (cell).

Announcements:

  • Noisy Coin Offering for One Great Hour of Sharing
  • Handbell Choir on Wednesday at 4:15pm
  • Lent Prayer Worship at 6:30 on Wednesday
  • Chancel Choir practice after Lenten Worship
  • Baskets are in the back of the church to contribute to Ukraine Relief.
  • Brunch to raise funds for Ukraine Relief on Palm Sunday, April 10 at 10am.

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture Lessons: Isaiah 55:1-9, Psalm 63:1-8, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Luke 13:1-9

Sermon: Don’t Be That Brother

When asked a question, Jesus often answered with a story. When Jesus overhears some Pharisees and teachers of the law muttering about how he welcomes and eats with sinners, Jesus tells three stories. First one about the shepherd who has one hundred sheep and loses one. Second about a woman who has 10 silver coins and loses one. Third about a father who has two sons and loses one. Jesus really drives home the point about losing and finding something/someone precious. Sorrow at the loss and rejoicing when the lost is found.

Our sanctuary has a beautiful window with Jesus carrying a lamb. I find this scene very comforting. To know that Jesus will carry me home when I am hurt and lost gives me hope even in the worst of times. Even in the scariest moments Jesus is looking for me. When I am found, Jesus will be cradle me in his arms and bring me home to the flock that drinks from gentle streams and grazes on the green pastures of God’s love.

The story of the man with two sons makes the losing and rejoicing real. This is not a story about lost coins or sheep. This is about family. Family dynamics are messy. Even supposedly perfect families have their share of pain. Reading and hearing the story of the man with two sons may bring up all sorts of feelings about our own families and other relationships.

Brothers who work together still tease and compete with one another. You may remember the radio show “Car Talk” which was hosted by two brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi, also known as the Click and Clack the Tappet brothers. The joking brothers would answer listener calls about car troubles. They would end the show with Ray warning the audience, "Don't drive like my brother!" to which Tom would reply, "And don't drive like my brother!"

Don’t be like my brother might be the sentiment of the two brothers in Jesus’ third story. The younger brother demands his share of inheritance from the father. How rude and selfish of him to act like the father is dead and gather up the property for himself. Worse yet he does not stay to do any work on the land or in the family business. Instead, the younger son packs up his suitcase, leaves with his debit card and heads for Vegas. Hearing the tale of the younger sons who demands that the father give him his share of the estate even before the father has died, a listener might think don’t be that brother.

The tale of the younger brother in a foreign land spending time on the Vegas strip of his days ends with him broke and desperate. The younger son of a well to do man is brought low. The son who would not work for his father now works for stranger doing the jobs that no one wants. The listener would believe the young man has gotten what he deserved. Don’t be that brother.

But the tale does not end there. There is a saying that hitting rock bottom is the best thing that could happen to someone. Having hit rock bottom, the younger brother wakes up to just how horrible he has been. There will be no more excuses, no more self-justifications, he will apologize and return to become a servant in his father’s home.

Have you ever hit rock bottom? Why and what did you do? We all have embarrassing times in our lives. Things that we have done that we regret. It is easy judge, but so hard to confess and forgive. Our country is so polarized culturally and politically. Maybe we all need to confess to our angry thoughts about the other side and make that difficult decision to return home to community unity. The brother’s journey home is a difficult one. I wonder what the younger son imagined would happen. Would anyone listen to him? Do we truly listen to each other?

The wonderfully refreshing part of this story is the father’s reaction to the younger son’s return. The father welcomes his son home, no apologies necessary, no questions asked. So happy is this father that he throws an over-the-top celebration because the one who was lost now is found.

But the older son is left working in the field. No one comes looking for him. He must learn about his brother’s return and party from a servant. Who wants to be that brother? Many of us are the responsible older sibling who keeps things going when everyone else is having fun. The unfairness of it all when the younger one gets the party. It makes us angry, and it hurts. When the father finally comes out to talk to the older brother. He listens to his complaints and hurts. He then explains his joy that the brother who was lost, now is found; was dead, now is alive. The brother is invited to join the party.
Does he join in the celebration? Maybe or maybe not. Does he hang on to his resentments and have dinner alone in the barn? I know that it is hard to let go of resentments that come from being the dutiful one. The one who did all those chores that kept the bills paid. We can choose to sit in our corners and mutter like the older brother. Don’t be that brother.

Join Jesus’ welcoming party. There will be people there you agree with, enjoy and like. There will be those who have hurt you and you cannot stand. There will be those whom you think do not belong. There will be those whom you have judged, and those who have judged you. I know, I feel the same way. But don’t be that brother who stays away. Be the one who joins the loving God party of reconciliation. Remember these words of Paul, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;” 2 Corinthians 5:18

Prayer: God who seeks us and loves us may we show our gratitude by living ambassadors of Christ’s reconciliation for all. Amen.

Prayer list: All who have been on our list in the past and Elizabeth, Cheryl, Peggy, Mindy, Dave, David, Ken and Evelyn, Jason, Paulette, Marcie and Porter, Jaqueline, Friends of Shelby, and for peace in the world in Ukraine and other war-torn places.
Joy: Corey who has been on our prayer list has been told that he is cancer free.

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