This Sunday we will look at the story of the Prodigal Son not only as it applies to us individually but as it applies to the human race and the nature of the universe.
People often comment on what a great storyteller Jesus was, meaning his stories are well told and full of profound wisdom. That is true, but he was more than that. His stories come from an understanding of the way the Creation works that is so deep it is as if the Creator herself wrote them. They come straight from the same Holy Spirit that hovered over the waters of Creation and then filled Jesus as he came out of Jordan’s waters.
That is why we can feel engaged by the story of the Prodigal Son at every developmental stage of our life, and why people of other religions can appreciate it as much as we do. It is why we can find life-giving hope in it as we look at the life-threatening condition of the world today. It is the perfect Lenten text. It shows human nature at its worst and at its best, and the Spirit in us resonates with the Spirit flowing through Jesus and his story so that we know in our heart of hearts that the power of love and forgiveness and oneness will win. This is the power that we need to rule our lives and the earth now, and if we can overcome all odds and evolve human consciousness to this spiritual level in time, we may yet reverse the prodigal damage we have done and create the realm of God on earth, the Eden that it was made to be.
We will read the beautiful, reassuring words of Psalm 32 and 2 Corinthians 5:16-20 as well as the Prodigal Son story in Luke 15. We will sing “Amazing Grace,” “Dear God Embracing Humankind (formerly Dear Lord and Father of Mankind)” and “If We Take Gifts of Light from Our Creator.” The tune of that last hymn was very important to the church in the past, but this congregation has probably not sung it in decades, so I recommend you listen to the YouTube version below to get the sense of it. It is about as Lentish as Lent can get! (It is the second YouTube after the Anthem.)
The choir will sing a Kyrie Eleison arranged by John Bell of Wild Goose and the Iona community, and a Guatemalan “The Peace of the Earth” also arranged by Bell. The Anthem will be “Prodigal’s Return” arranged by Peter Amidon. You can hear a moving version led by Peter Amidon and performed in Brattleboro in celebration of a church very much like ours. (This will be a good Sunday to sing in the choir—just show up Sunday morning at 8:50 for rehearsal.)
Pianist Annemieke McLane will play pieces by J. S. Bach and F. Couperin as well as the African-American spiritual, “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.”