Against the Grain -- Words for a Politically Incorrect Church
Cycle B Gospel Sermons for Sundays after Pentecost (Last Third)
Probably one of the most frustrating responsibilities I have as a parish pastor is officiating at weddings. I would rather do a funeral than perform a wedding. It's not because I am filled with a great sense of morbidity. It's not that I delight in other people's suffering. Rather, it has to do with how receptive people are to ministry. At the time of death, people are much more receptive to facing the ultimate issues of life. They have a far greater sense of their need for the gospel. They have just experienced the limits of life and are primed to listen to the word of hope in Jesus Christ.
I am so happy to see you this morning. How are you? (children may respond)
Let's play a game I call “Lost and Found.” Okay? (children respond)
(presenter role plays) Uh, oh, I lost something for today's message. Hmm, I wonder where it could be. It's a box like this. (shows approximate dimensions) (instruct the children to look around the immediate area) (then presenter or child finds it)
Since the Fourth Sunday in Lent has been historically identified as Laetare (Rejoicing Sunday), it is most appropriate that the lessons collectively testify to a theme for which we can rejoice — God saves us by his grace!
In this familiar and well-loved story of the Prodigal Son, I often wonder what happened to the mother of the family. She's totally ignored. So are any daughters. It seems like a completely male stronghold. So much so that I wonder whether perhaps the mother had died some years previously, and that was the cause of much of the unhappiness displayed by both the father and the sons. Or whether the father was such a domineering character that his wife played no real part in family life, but simply bowed her head in compliance with all his wishes, no matter how extreme they were.