Fourth Sunday of Lent

Good morning all!  Here we are at another Sunday mark! Today is your mini Easter!

Today’s scripture: Luke 15: 11-32 (The Message)Then he said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any. That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father. When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’“But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.


“All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast! His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’”

This is such a fab parable! I know that many of us blank out when this parable comes up but it is rich in the storytelling department. It has intrigue, it has shame, it has embarrassment, it has grace, it has celebration and it has sulking.  And the thing is at any point in my life I can relate to all of those emotions from this parable. It is a story with an open end that continuously changes for us throughout our lives.  It has two siblings and a father.  This morning we are zeroing in on the relationship between the eldest at the father.  At the CoOp we are talking about the temptation to be the older sibling.
I can relate because I am one of those older siblings. You can see the pic of all of us above. I was the only girl until a few have married in (thank God..yay for Shaheen and Madeleine). At this point my siblings and I get pretty well along. We may have our differences but we actually love being together when we get to be together.  We check in on each other and I am lucky to have brothers that care about what is happening in my life and I hope they feel as though I care about what is happening in their lives.  But I get the older sibling in this parable. My brothers did not stray or spend all of their money but words such as, “why don’t you just discipline that brother?” or “why would you pay for that for him?” have been known to come out of my mouth to my parents a time or two.  Plus in my life I have the background of wanting to be right…for those of you that know me I am just a little stubborn…but just a little. 😉
So I get the need to be right in this story and to feel justified. He was working and didn’t even know about the party until they were well into it! But the older sibling has a choice.  He can be tempted to walk away and sulk and stew and sit in anger orrrrr he can join the celebration.  It is about leaning into grace and choosing to use energy to celebrate rather than to sulk.
The church as the same temptations. We are a church of elder siblings at times.  Our sins our mild comparatively at times and we have been here all along. We have been good. We have been working and the temptation is to dwell there instead of joining the grand celebration no matter who you are!  The temptation is to get stuck in who is right rather than realize grace is offered to all…whether you have been here the entire time or just wandered in.
Which will it be?

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