Sermon Introduction –
The Prodigal Son narrative is an often told story of two brothers and a father’s love. But beyond that, it is the story about all of us—about sin and feeling distant from God only to return over and over again to God’s loving arms. It is about the journey of faith. We have the blessed assurance of where we are going to be home with God, but we still all fall short and need his daily grace. Are we a prodigal church? Do we make it easy for the fallen to join our community? Humble repentance is always necessary as we depend more and more on the grace of love of God. Yes, all are welcome home.
Introduction to this week’s readings –
The Psalm sets the tone this day: “Happy are they whose transgressions are forgen, and whose sin is put away!” Happy are those who have “become the righteousness of God” in the merits of Christ Jesus. Happy are those for whom the forgiveness of God has “rolled away… the disgrace” of former times. Happy is the father at the return of his prodigal son. Happy are we that our sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake. Rejoice!
Reading: Joshua 5:9-12
Reading Introduction: By celebrating the Passover and eating the produce of the promised land instead of the miraculous manna that had sustained them in the desert, the Israelites symbolically bring their forty years of wilderness wandering to an end at Gilgal.
Reading: Psalm 32
Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Reading Introduction: One way to describe the gospel is the promise that in Christ everything is transformed into newness. All mistakes, all deliberate sins, all old history is reconciled with Christ’s resurrection. This is Paul’s strong message to the congregation in the city of Corinth.
Reading: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Reading Introduction: Jesus tells a parable about a son who ponders his father’s love only after he has spurned it. The grace he receives is beyond his hopes. That same grace is a crisis for an older brother who believed it was his obedience that earned his place in the father’s home.