Let us begin our time together with a breath,
And with a breath, begin a time to relax and be free
within the sanctuary of God’s divine authority.
Our response will be highlighted in yellow.
Release us, merciful God, from our
false impressions of Your divine authority.
You do not press down with force.
You do not belittle. You do not shame.
You do not turn away in coldness
or disconnect from our deepest needs.
Lift from us, O God,
whatever heaviness we carry –
in our hearts, in our bodies –
from authorities – past or present – whom have not reflected
your loving-kindness, your transforming power,
your perfect intuition, your listening ear, your steady Truth.
May your Divine authority calm the storm
inside us before we are overtaken by the
illusion that our own power might save us.
Let us look upon Jesus, as we choose trust over distress,
as we yield our compulsions to control our lives, to control
others, and, absurdly, we confess, even to control you.
May your Divine authority free us from our
bitter thoughts, our destructive ways, and open
us to see anew your true expression of power.
In the name of God, the Almighty,
Jesus, our Benevolent Authority,
and the Holy Spirit, our Guide to divine restoration.
We invite you to hear from the Gospel of Luke 15: 11b-24.
11 “There was a man who had two sons. 12 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.
13 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. … 17 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!
18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father,
I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer
worthy to be called your son.” 20 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.
21 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.’
22 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. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and
let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead
and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
The grass withers and the flower fades,
but the Word of the Lord endures forever. Amen.
Homily and Reflection
Where are we being lured in our lives by Henri Nouwen’s “three human lies” (I am what I have, I am what I do, I am what other people say or think of me)?
Do we really believe that God’s love is unconditional and limitlessly patient? Even lavishly so?
when we have nothing to show,
when our nets turn up empty,
when fatigue overwhelms us,
God carries us.
When our work rewards us,
when our boat sinks with riches,
when our partners rejoice alongside us,
God sings with us.
When we feel shame, amazement, and fear,
when we hear Christ calling us to a new identity,
when we excitedly or reluctantly follow,
God holds us.
May we go forth from here
with the confidence of Christ on our side,
empowered to accompany those on the margins,
and embrace discomfort and consent to mystery.
We live out our calling
in the community of the Divine Trinity,
God of love, connection, and grace.
Go in peace, and live the church.
May you find belonging and community this week.
[Photo by Tom Robertson]