Lent 4, March 31, 2019

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Title:Lent 4, March 31, 2019

 Lent 4, March 31, 2019 (full size gallery)

A Busy Week at St. Peter’s
1. First Way of love breakfast on March 27. Quite a number of vultures were interested too!
2. The third week of Spanish Bible Study March 29
3. Cleanup day on Sat. led by Johnny . Project included filling in the driveway, mulching and power washing the Parish House
4. Dedication of a new piano for the church donated by a Parishioner. Catherine used the service from “Occasion Services”. The choir followed up with “Make me a channel of your peace”, Arr. Jane Holstein:

The sermon covered all 4 readings around the idea of celebration. The sermon first asked, “Are you going to the party?”

“The scriptures appointed for this week are all about parties, celebrations, and new life.” In particular the Prodigal son

“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!

“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. ”

The fourth Sunday in Lent is traditionally known as “Mothering Sunday” or Refreshment Sunday. In some parts of Great Britain, the custom was to return to the “mother church” or the cathedral for a special service on this day, and it also became customary to celebrate or pay special respect to one’s own mother on this day, a sort of Anglican “Mother’s Day. The children would pick wild flowers along the way to place in the church or give to their mothers.

Another custom is the relaxation of austere Lenten observances on this day, the baking of simnel cakes (light fruit cakes covered in marzipan), and in some places the replacement of purple robes and liturgical hangings with rose-colored ones. Simnel cakes are called such because of the fine flour (Latin “simila”) they were made of.

Children of all ages were expected to pay a formal visit to their mothers and to bring a Simnel cake as a gift. In return, the mothers gave their children a special blessing. This custom was so well-established that masters were required to give servants enough time off to visit out-of-town mothers – provided the trip did not exceed 5 days!

In later times, Mothering Sunday became a day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family members. It was often the only time that whole families could gather together, since on other days they were prevented from doing so by conflicting working hours

A recipe for Simnel cake is here.

Today’s readings invite us into the welcoming, forgiving arms of our loving God. In Joshua, the people of Israel celebrate their home-coming in the promised land, eating, for the first time, of the produce of Canaan. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes our reconciliation to God in and through Christ. The gospel story tells of a father’s prodigal love for his lost sons.

The Old Testament reading Joshua 5:9-12 is excerpted from the account of the events that ceremonially ended the exodus period and opened the way for the conquest of the promised land. The crossing of the Jordan echoes the crossing of the Red Sea. Then the people are circumcised, so that they might celebrate the Passover. The nature of the “disgrace of Egypt” (v. 9, their slavery to the Egyptians? the skepticism about God’s ability to provide and protect them in the wilderness?) is not clear. 

The celebration of the Passover marks the end of the exodus just as it had marked its beginning. The people are now ready to change their wandering way of life into a more settled life of farming in the promised land. The change is signified by the cessation of the manna.

Psalm 32 reveals how sin and its consequences have broken down the relationship with God. It divides naturally into six sections that trace the pattern of reconciliation: verses 1-2 are an introduction; verses 3-4 express the weight of guilt; verse 5 is a confession of sin; verses 6-7 offer sound advice; in verses 8-9, God speaks; in verses 10-11, the psalmist rejoices in his changed status before God.

Paul in the Epistle from 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 presents the new reality of human existence “in Christ”—it is a new creation! Old attitudes and relationships with one another based upon a human perspective have been superseded. In the midst of the old creation, Christians, by faith, now live on the terms of the new creation in the new community inaugurated by God through Christ. God does not keep track of sins, but rather offers forgiveness. The Christian’s ministry is to announce reconciliation for all. 

Reconciliation and life in the new creation are possible because of the atonement effected in and by Christ. He who was innocent of sin, nonetheless was “made…to be sin” (v. 21); that is, Christ became the offering for sin and was made one with the sinfulness of humanity. Christ stands in the place of humankind, alienated from God, so that humankind may be made one with God again.

The Gospel from Luke, Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32, is the story of the Prodigal Son, the longest of the parables. Like many of Luke’s best-loved stories, this is both an account of human relationships and a parable of God’s relationship with humanity. It has been called the parable of “the two lost sons,” for both are self-centered, each in a different way, and both misunderstand their relationship to their father. 

But the parable is also called “the parable of the waiting father,” for it is the father who takes the initiative, watching for his wayward son and having compassion on him as soon as he is seen. The father invests him with the clothing that marks his restored status as a son, not a servant—as one who is free (servants did not wear shoes) and in authority (signified by the ring). 

The elder son, out of hatred, fear of loss or self-righteousness, is angry at his father’s response. Again the father takes the initiative and comes out to him. However, the elder son perceives his sonship as servitude, an exacted obedience for the sake of reward. He acknowledges real relationship neither to his father (whom he does not greet) nor to his brother, “this son of yours.”