Lectionary (Year C): Joshua 5:9-12; Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Theme: The love of the Prodigal Son’s father as an illustration of God’s love for his wayward children
“In Return of the Prodigal Son,” Henry Nouwen describes love and forgiveness as unconditional. Though this is not a novel idea, Nouwen’s approach is arguably unique as he approaches this theme from the angles of the younger son, the elder son, and the father. Each captures the unconditional quality of love and forgiveness in their own way.” (Wikipedia, Henri Nouwen)
About Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal Son: “It is a timeless picture, full of hope, symbolizing as it does Christ’s message of the infinite mercy of God—the spiritual homecoming of all mankind.” Charles Fowkes, The Life of Rembrandt, Hamlyn Pub., 1978, p. 138.
Illustration(s): Rembrandt’s painting of The Return of the Prodigal Son.
Dr. Robert F. Browning, pastor of Smoke Rise Baptist Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia relates: “A Spanish story says that a father and his son became estranged. The son ran away and the father had no idea where to look for him. After months passed with no communication, the father put an ad in a Madrid paper that read, ‘Son, meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven, I love you. Your father.’ At the appointed time, over eight hundred boys showed up hoping the request was from their father.”
- “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”
- “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go”
- “Love Lifted Me”
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Sometimes, Lord, we have been the straying prodigal,
and at other times we have been the smug and jealous older brother.
Help us to recognize the sin that lurks within us, whatever its form,
and walk with us as we return in gratitude, to you, our welcoming Father.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE
There is good reason to rejoice,
because we who were lost have been found,
and we who were dead are alive.
— adapted from Luke 15:32
Go forth in confidence and hope, assured that although the wages of sin is death, the
unearned gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
— adapted from Romans 6:23