|Pentecost, Year C||June 9, 2019||The Day of Pentecost, Year C||Acts 2:1-21, John 14:8-17, 25-27|
|Easter 7, Year C||June 2, 2019||The Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C||Psalm 97, Acts 16:16-34, John 17:20-26|
|Easter 6, Year C||May 26, 2019||Easter 6, Year C||John 14:23-29|
|Easter 5, Year C||May 19, 2019||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 13:31-35|
|Easter 4, Year C||May 12, 2019||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C||Psalm 23; John 10:22-30|
|Easter 3, Year C||May 5, 2019||Third Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 21:1-19|
|Easter 2, Year C||April 28, 2019||Easter 2, Year 2||John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday, 2019||April 21, 2019||Easter Sunday||John 20:1-18|
|Good Friday, 2019||April 19, 2019||Good Friday||John 18:1-19:42|
|Maundy Thursday, April 18, 2019||April 18, 2019||Maundy Thursday||John 13:1-17, 31b-35|
|Palm Sunday, Year C||April 14, 2019||Palm Sunday, Year C||Luke 23:26|
|Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||April 7, 2019||Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||John 12:1-8|
|➤Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 31, 2019||Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C 2019||Joshua 5:9-12;Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32|
|Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 24, 2019||Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:1-9|
|Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 17, 2019||Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:31-35,Philippians 3:17-4:1|
Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C
Sermon Date:March 31, 2019
Scripture: Joshua 5:9-12;Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Liturgy Calendar: Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C 2019
Rembrandt – “Return of the Prodigal Son” – 1663-1669
Jesus has a question for you.
Are you going to the party?
The party you’re invited to isn’t just any party. This party is a celebration because the old as passed away and everything has become new, because of God’s forgiveness and mercy.
This party is about new life! The celebration of a birth!
No wonder everyone is so happy, feasting and dancing.
So are you going to the party or not?
The scriptures appointed for this week are all about parties, celebrations, and new life.
After forty long years, the Israelites have finally crossed over the Jordan into the promised land. And one of the first things that they do is to celebrate the Passover, remembering where they have been and all the mercies that God provided for them in the wilderness—and now they are celebrating God’s new mercies—God has given them a land in which they can grow and bear fruit and continue to become God’s holy and righteous people.
The psalmist is also having a party, celebrating God’s mercy.
I can imagine the psalmist, up on a flat rooftop, or maybe even standing in the middle of town, shouting and inviting people to the party, a joyful town crier.
“Hey you all, Happy are those who have received God’s mercy!”
God is surrounding everyone at this party with shouts of deliverance. God’s mercy wraps around those who trust in the Lord!”
“So be glad, your righteous, and rejoice in the Lord! Shout for joy, those who are true of heart!”
Come to the party!
Paul, writing to the Corinthians, is practically out of his mind with joy.
“Look,” Paul says.
“Look the people who have turned to Jesus! They are new!”
And this is something to celebrate! Because Jesus became one of us, we get to become like God, growing more and more like God every day!
Paul is inviting the Corinthians, who already know how to party, to join in THIS party, to celebrate God’s forgiveness and mercy and the fact that they have been made new in Jesus.
Come on, Corinthians, come to God’s party!
And then there’s the older son in today’s parable, standing resentfully outside, refusing to go in because his younger brother has repented and come home and now there’s a big party for his brother going on with music and dancing and feasting.
The father comes out and invites this grumpy older son to come in to the party, because as the father puts it, “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!”
And you’re invited! Just as you are, older brother, grumpy, judgmental, and self-righteous. You’re invited too!
So, are you going to this party or not?
Now maybe you’re thinking to yourself—hmmm-
Israelites, a psalmist shouting from an Old Testament rooftop, Corinthians, a grumpy older brother in a parable Jesus told—
But what does this have to do with me?
Everything—because by your presence today, you have chosen to join in this party, this raucous celebration of God’s forgiveness and mercy for each one of us.
So let there be music and dancing!
OK, just kidding! We’re not known as the frozen chosen for nothing!
But here we are, just as we are, and in a few minutes, we will at least say that we have repented when we confess our sins against God and our neighbor,
“We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.”
And we will ask God to give us mercy and forgiveness, which God has already done, and is glad to do for us, again and again!
So that we may delight in God’s will, and walk in God’s name, to the glory of God’s name!
So that we can come to the table that God has set for us and to realize that yes,
We are ALREADY at the party! And the gift that God gives us at this party is a heart for the troubles of the world.
The party doesn’t end here.
God wants us to take this party back home to our families, out to our neighborhoods, into the streets!
God wants us to be, as Paul puts it, “ambassadors for Christ!”
Now we, who have received mercy overflowing, get to carry God’s mercy for all of creation out into the world.
And invite people to the party—the party at your house, the party at work, the party in the street, the party at the food distribution, the party at the clean up day, the Spanish Bible study party,
The party that is going on anywhere that God’s love and mercy are evident through us because we have been to this party, and God has made us new, and is making us new, and will continue to make us new—God’s people of mercy set loose in the world—to bring new life in the midst of death, and to help find again all that has been lost.
Remember, Jesus has a question for you.
God has invited you to the party.
Will you accept the invitation?