14 Aug It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood with Rev. Penny Garrison on Sun. Aug. 16th
“IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD”
Scripture: Luke 15:11-32
Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
Prayer: from Ann Siddall
Father, it was said of the Prodigal Son that he “came to himself.” Help us to wake up to ourselves, and to You. Set us free from the illusion of trying to be perfect so that we might be more fully human. Help us not to chase after an imaginary life, and to find satisfaction in our real lives. Help us to see where we have come from and to move into the future that you have planned for us. And turn us away from our self-rejection so that we might see that Your arms open in welcome. Amen.
Devotional: from Henri Nouwen
I was part of an eclectic group of tourists fresh off a cruise ship, eager to see as much as they could of St. Petersburg, Russia, in two days. I was already aware of how my priorities ran counter to most of my fellow tourists. When the tour bus stopped at a gift shop, I spent a couple of minutes watching the feeding frenzy around the wooden nesting dolls and slipped next door to the ancient Orthodox church, still gray with decades of dust from Soviet neglect. But inside the parishioners were busy transforming the church, whose marble floor had been used as an ice-skating rink, back into a place of worship. They were working, they were cleaning, they were singing, and I was blessed. When we arrived at the Hermitage, we were ushered into the ornate palace-turned-museum by a guide who was more interested in the architecture than the art—I chafed to see the Rembrandt. When we finally arrived at the rooms of paintings, the guide urged us on to the Mondrians and Monets and Manets, but I headed straight for the Rembrandt. When we were corralled and herded on to see the just-opened Scythian gold jewelry exhibit, I longed to return to the Return, The Return of the Prodigal by Rembrandt. But during the short time I was there—was it an instant or an eternity?—I stood in silent awe. I had seen it in books, on postcards, as posters; I had read about it, even taught it. But when I first turned the corner and it loomed larger than life above me, it seemed to see me, into me, through me—that ragged, returned runaway; the glowing countenance of the father and his soft, firm hands; the anxious face and fingers of the elder son; even the shadowy figures in the background. As my eyes moved from one figure to the other, I saw myself in each and sensed each one in me. I wasn’t surprised; I’ve been moved by the masters before, in the Tate, in the Louvre, in MOMA. I wasn’t surprised; I’ve often seen something more clearly in the stories of the Bible for having seen an artistic representation of them. But I was surprised; I had rarely if ever seen myself so clearly in a painting, and perhaps even God.
Questions to ask:
1) Have you like Nouwen ever felt like the younger son, lost, homeless? What were your thoughts?
2) Have you like Nouwen ever seen yourself more like the elder son? What were your thoughts?
3) Have you ever had occasion to feel like the father in the story? What were your thoughts?
4) Can you bring these thoughts and feelings to God in prayer today?
I invite your family to join with The Skit Guys to hear the story of the Prodigal Son…