Mar. 10:  Fourth Sunday in Lent               Read Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So he told them this parable:  “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, 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 his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; 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! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”‘

“So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 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, bring out 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 was dead 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 heard music 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 him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed 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.'”

 

from Del Parris, Central Christian Church, Clarksburg

            When I reflect on this famous and popular parable I most often focus on the total depravity of the young son that is portrayed by Jesus.  When the son decides to go home to his father he goes with absolutely nothing to offer in order to redeem himself.  He goes empty-handed and aware of the emptiness of his heart.  During Lent I encounter my emptiness, but I find it hard to not think that I must have some redeeming quality, something with which to impress God as I return.  For most of us who were raised in and/or have been faithful to the church for years, it is difficult to identify with the debauchery, depravity, and total dependence on grace that characterized the son.  We can easily be today’s Pharisees.  The truth is, we too must come to God in this time with the same awareness of the son in the parable – the fact that we can bring nothing to redeem ourselves.

Dear Lord, may I come to you in this period of reflection and repentance “just as I am, without one plea. . . .”

Prayerscapes for Lent is presented by the Order of Ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia.  ©2013.  All rights reserved.  Duplication and distribution for profit is not permitted.

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