This Week’s Theme
The Parable of the Prodigal Father
Luke 15.1-3, 11b-32
Jesus was open and merciful to the poor and to sinners, which irritated many of the religious leaders of his day. When tax collectors and sinners drew near to Jesus to listen to his teaching, the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Jesus saw their grumbling and irritation, and so told them the parable of the Prodigal Son. This amazing story speaks of a man who had two sons, with the younger demanding his share of the property, even before his dad had died! So the father divided his property between him and his older son. The younger son gathered his belongings, went to a far country, and there squandered his resources in reckless and loose living. Afterwards, a severe famine came to that country, and, being broke, he had to hire himself out to a local merchant, feeding pigs. He was so hungry that he longed to eat the very pods that the unclean pigs were eating, and no one gave him a thing.
In the midst of this suffering, the young son “came to himself” saying, “How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise 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 as one of your hired servants.’”
Broken and humbled, the son arose and returned home. While he was still a long way off, his father saw him, felt compassion for him, ran to him, and embraced and kissed him. Before the younger son could finish his prepared speech, the father commanded his servants, “Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”And they began to celebrate.
The older brother, on hearing the commotion, asked what all the music and dancing was about. Having learned his younger brother had returned, he refused to join the party, being irritated at the idea of honoring the immoral brother. He grumbled that his dad had never thrown him a party at all, even though he was faithful in his service. The dad told him all he had was his, but told him that it was necessary to receive his brother home with joy. As one commentator puts this, “One can be lost even at home.”
Our Father is a compassionate, loving, and gracious dad, who is more than willing to welcome his children home after they have lost their way. He is a God who celebrates the return of his wayward child.
Preparing Our Hearts
Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
Eternal God, our Father, you are a God who can pardon the sinner, even the one who in bold rebellion has turned their back on you and your will. If they return, you welcome them, even while they are a long distance off, and embrace and kiss them. You are slow to anger and ready to forgive. Reproduce that life in us, to your glory. Amen.
Call to Worship
Blessed are you, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed is your Kingdom, both now and forever, Amen.
Praising Our God
Te Deum Laudamus
You are God: we praise you; you are the Lord; we acclaim you; you are the eternal Father: All creation worships you. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you. The noble fellowship of prophets praise you. The white-robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you; Father, of majesty unbounded, your true and only Son, worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory, the eternal Son of the Father. When you became man to set us free you did not shun the Virgin’s womb. You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that you will come and be our judge. Come then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.
Praise and Thanksgiving (songs and prayers)
Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen, amen.
Listening to His Voice
Chronological Reading for the Day
Friday: 1 Chron. 29.1-22; 1 Kings 1
Lectionary Readings for the Day
Psalm: Ps. 32
OT: Josh. 5.9-12
Gospel: Luke 15.1-3, 11b-32
NT: 2 Cor. 5.16-21
Reflection: Silence and/or Journaling
Responding in Faith
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he arose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
*In the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the term catholic refers to the Church’s universality, through all ages and times, of all languages and peoples. It refers to no particular tradition or denominational expression (e.g., as in Roman Catholic).
Prayers of Confession
Let us now confess our sins to God and receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need.
Assurance of Pardon
Having faithfully confessed and renounced your sin, Christ also has been faithful to forgive your sins and to purify you from all unrighteousness. It is certain, that there is One who has spoken to the Father in your defense, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. His grace and peace are with you now. Amen.
Petitions and Supplications, Ending with The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
~ Matthew 6.9-13 (KJV)
Doxology (and/or closing song)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Departing to Serve
Lord Jesus, free us from the comparison-based, judgmental spirit displayed in the heart of the older brother. Forgive us when we have not welcomed the penitent with open arms, attending the celebration of their return to you. Cleanse us and renew us, granting to us a heart that is filled with mercy and love, ever ready to welcome those who return with joy and celebration. In your name we pray, amen.
Affirmation for the Day
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (Ps. 86.15).
Pray without Ceasing – Flash Prayer for the Day
Let us arise and go to our Father, and say to him, “Father, we have sinned against heaven and before you.”
Let God Arise! Seasonal Focus
It Is Written
Metaxas, Martin Luther