March 31, 2019
Worship Resources for
the Center for Faith and Giving
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Call to Worship (from Psalm 32)
One: We gather to rejoice in God’s forgiving love,
Many: for steadfast love surrounds us!
One: We offer our prayer to the Holy One,
Many: who is a hiding place for us.
One: Together, let us be glad in the Lord and rejoice,
Many: for God wraps round us with glad cries of deliverance!
Gracious God, in the midst of this season of Lenten introspection, even as we acknowledge our brokenness, you do not leave us comfortless. Thank you for the ways you teach us, counsel us, and provide your steadfast love to us and to all your created world. In this hour, guide us both to confession and to gratitude even in the midst of distress. With the Psalmist, may we experience your protective care. AMEN
Moment for Stewardship
How we focus on a familiar parable often depends on our point of view. In our scripture today, the younger son and the father often take center place.
Join me for a moment in moving focus to take on the point of view of the older son. He did all his father asked. He stayed home and worked, even while his younger brother took off. He carefully tended his father’s resources, even while anticipating his brother (whom he may have seen as “the coddled baby”) was wasting his entire inheritance.
Can you put yourself in his place?
As we come to our time of offering, you’re resentful and annoyed with the way others appear to throw away their resources. Perhaps you shake your head at folks who to act like the younger brother, “squandering … in dissolute living”.
Instead of a boiling pot of anger, what would it take for each one of us to accept the invitation of the loving father? Come join the party! As we offer our resources today, how can we celebrate this affirmation: “all that is mine is yours”?
Let’s breathe in a spirit of joy, for “ this brother was dead and has come to life” – and we’re invited to join the party!
Prayer of Thanksgiving
God of grace, it’s so tough sometimes to accept your abundant and ever-ready willingness to forgive. Today some of us are older brothers. Help us thank you for the ways you reach out to us andto those repentant younger sibs, inviting us all to be part of the world you’ve designed. Please use these gifts and use each one of us. Continue to make your grace known to a world of profligates and prudes. AMEN
Invitation to Communion
Jesus’ parable of the two sons and their Dad brings to mind several tables.
One might be the table of the younger son, when his resources were spent and his “friends” had deserted him. His table became the slop trough of the pigs, and even there he was not welcomes.
Another might be the table of the older son, who apparently didn’t ask for more, but was content with the simple fare offered in his father’s home. No extravagant spread, and certainly no music, friends or gaiety as a normal course of events.
But the third table comes when the younger son returns. Kill the fatted calf! Bring out the choicest wines. Gather the neighbors and let’s celebrate!
The loving father of the story invited both sons to feast. And, even in the midst of the somber season of Lent, we are invited to come to THIS table to share in this feast of bread and cup.
(As you focus on tables, consider using “Here at Thy Table, Lord”, CH #384 or Carrie Newcomer’s “Room at the Table” video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92OM5bdQ4N4
or Rebecca Friedlander’s “Communion” video
11Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12The 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. 13A 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. 14When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17But 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! 18I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20So 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. 21Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22But 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. 23And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.25“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”