Lent Four, Year C

Musical Reflection
Poor Man’s Son by Noah Gunderson

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Invocation

Undignified God,
spirit of dangerous feasts,
inviting the unclean to your table:
find us in the far country
of hopelessness and greed;
free us from the prison
of resentment and envy
and bring us back to life;
through Jesus Christ, the friend of sinners.
Amen.

First Reading
Tally

by Josephine Miles

After her pills the girl slept and counted
Pellet on pellet the regress of life.
Dead to the world, the world’s count yet counted
Pellet on pill the antinomies of life.

Refused to turn, the way’s back, she counted
Her several stones across the mire of life.
And stones away and sticks away she counted
To keep herself out of the country of life.

Lost tally. How the sheep return to home
Is the story she will retrieve
And the only story believe
Of one and one the sheep returning home

To take the shapes of life,
Coming and being counted.

 

Second Reading
On Parables
by Franz Kafka

Many complain that the words of the wise are always merely parables and of no use in daily life, which is the only life we have. When the sage says: “Go over,” he does not mean that we should cross over to some actual place, which we could do anyhow if the labor were worth it; he means some fabulous yonder, something unknown to us, something too that he cannot designate more precisely, and therefore cannot help us here in the very least. All these parables really set out to say merely that the incomprehensible is incomprehensible, and we know that already. But the cares we have to struggle with every day: that is a different matter.

Concerning this a man once said: Why such reluctance? If you only followed the parables you yourselves would become parables and with that rid yourself of all your daily cares.

Another said: I bet that is also a parable.

The first said: You have won.

The second said: But unfortunately only in parable.

The first said: No, in reality: in parable you have lost.

BALTICgravestone1

Gospel Reading
Luke 15:1-32

All the tax collectors and sinners were gathering around Jesus to listen to him. The Pharisees and legal experts were grumbling, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose someone among you had one hundred sheep and lost one of them. Wouldn’t they leave the other ninety-nine in the pasture and search for the lost one until they find it? And when they fins it, they are thrilled and place it on their shoulders. When they arrive home, they call together their friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Celebrate with me because I’ve found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who changes both heart and life than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to change their hearts and lives.

“Or what woman, if she owns ten silver coins and loses one of them, won’t light a lamp and sweep the house, searching her home carefully until she finds it? When she finds it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me because I’ve found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, joy breaks out in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who changes both heart and life.”

Jesus said, “A certain man had two sons. The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the inheritance.’ Then the father divided his estate between them. Soon afterward, the younger son gathered everything together and took a trip to a land far away. There, he wasted his wealth through extravagant living.

“When he had used up his resources, a severe food shortage arose in that country and he began to be in need. He hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. He longed to eat his fill from what the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything. When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, but I’m starving to death! I will get up and go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son. Take me on as one of your hired hands.” ’ So he got up and went to his father.

“While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion. His father ran to him, hugged him, and kissed him. Then his son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly, bring out the best robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Fetch the fattened calf and slaughter it. We must celebrate with feasting because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now his older son was in the field. Coming in from the field, he approached the house and heard music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what was going on. The servant replied, ‘Your brother has arrived, and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he received his son back safe and sound.’ Then the older son was furious and didn’t want to enter in, but his father came out and begged him. He answered his father, ‘Look, I’ve served you all these years, and I never disobeyed your instruction. Yet you’ve never given me as much as a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours returned, after gobbling up your estate on prostitutes, you slaughtered the fattened calf for him.’ Then his father said, ‘Son, 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. He was lost and is found.’”

 

Musical Reflection
The Prodigal Son by Hank Williams

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Prayer
after General Gordon

O Lord
whatever the world might say,
may we only pay attention
to what you are saying to us,
and seek only your approval,
which far outweighs any honour or praise
that the world might bestow or withhold.
Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer

O Parent of the Universe,
manifesting thyself as generative energy,
Bend over us and remove
all that clutters our being
and set apart a place
where thy sacredness may dwell.
Fill us with thy creativity,
so that we may be empowered to bear
the fruit of thy vision.
Then, moving to the heartbeat of thy desire,
make us the embodiment of thy compassion.
Drawing from the ground of our humanity
grant that we may renew each other
with love, understanding, and sustenance.
Empty us of frustrated hopes and despair,
as we restore others to a renewal of vision.
And let us not fall into agitation,
but save us from precipitous actions.
For thou art the ground
of the fruitful vision, the birthing-power, and the fulfilment,
as all is gathered and made whole once again. Ameyn.

Musical Reflection
Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival


Blessing

Bless to us, O God,
the doors we open,
the thresholds we cross,
the roads that lie before us.
Go with us as we go
and welcome us home.

May the blessing of God – the One From Whom, the One Through Whom,
and the One in Whom We Offer Our Praise
,
be with us and remain with us always. Amen.

Stop It 2007 by David Shrigley born 1968

Sources:

Artwork by David Shrigley

Invocation from Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare

Musical Reflection Poor Man’s Son by Noah Gundersen

Poem Tally by Josephine Miles

Poem on Parables by Franz Kafka

Musical Reflection The Prodigal Son by Hank Williams

Prayer after General Gordon

Aramaic Lord’s Prayer by Mark Hathaway

Musical Reflection Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Blessing from The Pattern of our Days

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