Week 18: Fourth Sunday in Lent

In the parable normally referred to as the Lost Son (or Prodigal Son), a father of two sons is confronted with the rebellion of his younger son. Foolishly and rashly, the youngest son demands his share of the father’s estate, and quickly squanders his inheritance, wasting all his money in wild living. He finds himself penniless, shamed, and hungry in a foreign country. Reduced to feeding swine, he even longs to eat the food provided for the pigs! Finally coming to his senses regarding his rebellion and its consequences, he resolves to return to his father, repent, and make himself available as one of his father’s hired hands. When the father spies his son coming, he uncharacteristically runs to his son with open arms, welcomes him home, and throws a big celebration for his arrival. Although the father’s extravagant (prodigal) actions produce resentment in his older son, the father reminds him that his younger brother who was lost, is now found again – and the finding deserves celebration.

Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
Great Father, who demonstrates his heart for the lost who return home in the parable of the prodigal Father, show your gracious pardon and welcome to us who have returned humbly and with contriteness to you. Make us like yourself, to be both gracious and forgiving to all who return to you, regardless of where they have been or what they have done. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Call to Worship
Blessed are you, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed is your Kingdom, both now and forever, amen.

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)

Gloria Patri
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.

Chronological Reading for the Day
Sunday: 2 Sam. 20-21; Ps. 7; 1 Chron. 20.4-8

Lectionary Readings
Psalm: Ps. 32
OT: Josh. 5.9-12
Gospel: Luke 15.1-3, 11-32
NT: 2 Cor. 5.16-21

(Click here for all readings)
Reflection: Silence and/or Journaling

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.

God who throws parties for lost sinners who return home again, make us grateful and rejoicing of the free grace and amazing love you supply to all who return to you. Flood our minds with your matchless love, and make us gracious to all who call on your name in truth and who thus receive from your storehouse the mercy you offer to all who repent and believe in Jesus. In his name I pray, amen.

Pray without Ceasing – Flash Prayer for the Day
God, who freely gives and forgives, conform our hearts to yours – make us gracious and kind to all, especially those who return to you in truth.

Weekly Reflection on the Priesthood of all Believers
At the heart of the Christian’s new life lies sacrificial love. It demonstrates itself before men [sic] primarily in soul winning service – the personal, private, [person to person] kind. Every consistent witness will testify that this takes daily sacrificial living. It takes the crucified life to witness to the crucified Christ. No other can do so with consistent success.

~ Roy J. Fish and J. E. Conant, Every Member Evangelism for Today.
Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 1976. p. 56.

Let God Arise! Seasonal Focus
That I May Gain Christ, Philippians 3.4-14

Book Reading
Fish and Conant, Every Member Evangelism for Today