Reverend Rob Lamerton
21 March 2004, Lent 4
- Joshua 5.2-12
- Psalm 32
- 2 Corinthians 5.16-21
- Luke 15.11-32
"Sorry seems to be the hardest word." Elton John
- facing up to the person
- admitting you were wrong
The son in the story was sure his way was best
He found himself in deep—(trouble) in the pig pen…
Recognized his future
Worried out of his mind how he would deal with it
---he believed he couldn't be welcomed back as a son, but it might be possible as a slave
It is difficult to admit when we are wrong and put things right.—It is also difficult if we believe we are right and to keep the lines of communication open when someone is in open disagreement.
But in the story, the son decides to head home. I imagine he was very apprehensive about the sort of reception he would get.
But in this story his Father is overjoyed to see him—because in this story the Father represents a loving God and the story is told with that very purpose—to let the religious people (Pharisees and scribes) know that the sinners who were Jesus' friends and with whom he ate, would be welcomed by God.
Pharisees—a religious party which at least allowed some interpretation of the law unlike the Saducees who tried to live precisely to the law of Moses. However, the Pharisees' additional interpretations were considered like the law itself (and legalisms)… fostered education and worship in the synagogues and on one occasion refused to swear allegiance to Herod. Had a large following of people impressed by their austerity and their opposition to their pagan rulers.
Not all bad.
Scribes—a class of professional teachers of the law who were like the bureaucrats of the Sanhedrin—were close to the high priestly family.
It was their faithful transmission of the religion of Israel which gave us the Old Testament. Again, not all bad!
But they appear in these stories to highlight narrow religious attitudes and allows Jesus alternative teaching to be understood.
Back to our story. Jesus creates a beautiful picture of reconciliation
Father and Son
God and we humans.
and the focus for celebration is
- robe—garment for celebration/banquet
- ring—symbol of authority (restoration)
- sandals—he is not a slave
- fatted calf—kept for a great occasions
So this story which begins with concern about eating with sinners end with the irreconcilable outcast of a son eating and celebrating with his Father.
So those who have high standards and could not see "sinners" as real people have a picture of reconciliation.
the dead is alive
the lost is found
The attitudes of the scribes and pharisees.
- Angry and proud
- Always good
- unable to see beyond himself
To God who forgives and restores and celebrates
There are a lot of things here
1. Attitudes to people who differ from ourselves. Often we really don't know them and we form a kind of caricature of what they are like without really getting to know them.
The bridesmaid yesterday, went to work with the bride… Anna just kept being friendly until ten years on, her new workmate was her bridesmaid…
2. Attitudes of children to parents.—not realizing that parents were young once and faced similar difficulties themselves!
Woman yesterday; late 20's; left home at 14.
Mostly, parents continue to be interested and concerned. In fact, Christian duty to remain interested and concerned, but not interfering.
3. People we live with (families);
Not always possible;
But it comes when we are willing to turn around, seek God, and face the music…