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WORSHIP SERVICE & SERMON

MARCH 31, 2019

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WORSHIP Aboard the Silver Whisper March 31, 2019

HYMN: There's A Wideness In God's Mercy

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us pray. Gracious God, you have assured us of your never-failing love through your Son Jesus who poured himself out for us in his life and in his death. Give us grace to show forth your love to all the world, filled with faith and hope. Amen.

Psalm 34:1-8
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
I will glory in the LORD;
let the humble hear and rejoice.
Proclaim with me the greatness of the LORD;
let us exalt his Name together.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me out of all my terror.
Look upon him and be radiant,
and let not your faces be ashamed.
I called in my affliction and the LORD heard me
and saved me from all my troubles.
The angel of the LORD encompasses those who fear him,
and he will deliver them.
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
happy are they who trust in him!

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke

Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But 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.’” (15:11-32)

A Reflection The Reverend William J. Eakins

You know the story of the prodigal son, the son who asks for his inheritance early and then squanders it on loose living. You know about this younger brother who leaves home and goes to a far country with no real intention of ever coming back. He is the sinner who ends up tending pigs and eating pig slop until he discovers that the swine have a better deal than he does and decides to go home.

You know about him because you have been a prodigal too. Have you not wasted your inheritance, wasted opportunities and gifts you have been given? I have. Have you not spent your talents, your integrity, your money on unworthy things? Harry has. Harry is a young man who worked hard in college, so hard that he thinks he has earned the right to find himself, to travel, to take some time off. He has spent all the money that he got for graduation last June and he is living with, actually living off, a woman he met on his way. Recently he called home and asked his parents for a loan.

You know the story of the prodigal son’s father, the one who never forgets his ungrateful rebellious child for even an hour, the father who gazes down the road in the impossible hope that the far country really isn’t so far away after all, until one day he sees his son returning. One day he catches a glimpse of his skinny dirty child straggling home and before the prodigal has uttered a word, the father races out and kisses his face and embraces him with laughter and tears that don't need any words to say, “I love you son, welcome home.” Emily knows that story. Emily was married to George for fifteen years when George met another woman. When George left her for a trial separation, Emily kept hoping that he would come to his senses. and one day George did just that, and Emily embraced him and through her tears she said it, “I love you, George, welcome home.” I asked Emily if they have ever talked about George’s affair, and she said that they had not. “I don’t want to know about it,” she said, “but I think George needs to explain and apologize. Someday he will, I suppose, but it doesn’t really matter to me. All that matters is that he is home.”

The father in Jesus’ story doesn’t do what any other father under heaven would have been inclined to do. He doesn’t say, “My son, I hope you learned a lesson,” or “I told you so,” or “I hope you find some way to make this up to your mother.” Instead he says, “Quickly, quickly bring the best for this boy who has returned. Bring him the best robe and some shoes and kill the fatted calf for we must celebrate.” The generous and grateful prodigality of the father is even greater than the foolish prodigality of the son. Nothing is too much. Look at the images of restoration! The father runs to the son, embraces him, kisses him; he gives him rich clothing and a ring as signs of the son’s restored status, shoes to show that he is a member of the family, because slaves don't wear shoes and guests take them off. He kills the calf and makes merry because what was lost has been found.

You also know the story of the older brother, the one who hears the sounds of rejoicing and refuses to come inside to see what the commotion is all about. He must have known; he is not blind. He calls the slaves and lets it be known that he will have no part in this celebration. “Your brother has come home,” they tell him, and the older son, consumed by his envy and pride stays out in the field and refuses to join the party.

Have you not been the older brother? I have. And I have seen “older brothers” in the church. Andy and Hal were seminary classmates together and then they were both curates waiting to have their own parishes. Andy’s turn almost came first. Andy was the first choice of the search committee at St. Minks and All Diamonds, but when a committee member called Hal to check references, Hal wasn’t very enthusiastic. Oh, Hal didn’t lie, he just suggested that Andy’s obvious skills might not stand up well in the long haul. If Hal were going to get stuck out in the back field, he didn't want to go to an installation party where they might serve fatted calf.

But God bids all of us jealous older brothers and sisters to come to the party anyway, because the fatted calf is for everybody. When the older son pouts in the back field, the father takes the initiative to invite him in. The father’s words are an exact parallel of the words he speaks to the prodigal son because both sons have been in a far country. While the younger son is recklessly carousing, the older son is so lost in his rules and his envy and his insecurity that he forgets what it means to be home. He forgets that love is never diminished if it is shared. He forgets that he has had his father’ love his whole life long and never appreciated it. There is some of the older son in each of us. We get jealous when somebody else gets an undeserved break.

The title of this parable is not in the Bible. It is not Jesus but we human beings who call it the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the son who spent, who wasted his inheritance. I suggest the parable should really be called the Parable of the Prodigal Father, the father who is also wasteful, recklessly extravagant, profuse in giving what he has, spending it on a son who doesn't deserve any of it, but who is loved anyway. Jesus tells us this story to promise us that this is what God is like, prodigal in love, always waiting for us, ready to embrace us and cook a feast to celebrate our arrival.

When our dear friend Pat died, her family carefully planned a funeral liturgy that celebrated her life. They filled the church with wild flowers from the meadows where Pat had walked, the funeral pall for the casket was made from squares that her friends had embroidered in bright colors of hope and promise, and we sang hymns of great joy. The service was a reflection of the faith and hope and love that were Pat’s legacy - except for one thing: nobody had looked at the back of the cards the funeral home had printed. There was an appropriate picture on the front of them but on the back was a prayer that read, “Be not severe in thy judgment, Lord, but let some drops of thy precious blood fall upon the devouring flames.”

Such a prayer is not a prayer to the prodigal, loving God of Jesus. This is not a prayer to a father who holds his arms out wide in welcome. We do not have to beg God to be merciful for ours IS a God of mercy who sent his Son to die so that we might live. Jesus is the way the Father runs out and looks for us. Jesus is the running out of the Father, the one who comes from home to bring us back home. Jesus is the one who goes into the pig sty of this world where he ends up on a cross so that we might wear the family ring and the finest robe and eat the fatted calf.

Jesus came to tell us that every time we stop wasting our inheritance and come back from the far country, every time we turn away from our sin, God will be waiting for us. Every time we spend our love and decide to live with hope and trust God’s promises, every time we share what we have because we know that there IS enough to go around, God says to us the same thing that the prodigal father says to both his sons: “Let us celebrate and rejoice, let us eat and be merry, what is lost has been found, for my child has come home.”

The Prayers
Gracious and loving God, we turn our hearts to you, trusting in your unfailing love and mercy. Taste and see that the LORD is good;
happy are they who trust in him!
We give thanks this day for all faithful fathers, who devote their love and their lives to serve their families. Grant them a wisdom and strength that reflect your fatherly goodness. Taste and see that the LORD is good;
happy are they who trust in him!
We pray for the leaders of the nations. Guide them in the ways of justice and peace; lead them to work together for the good of all your people. Taste and see that the LORD is good;
happy are they who trust in him!
We pray for those who are suffering in body, mind, and spirit, remembering this day Tricia and all whom we hold in our hearts, those in danger of storm and flood, those who live with the threats of terrorism, those who are lonely and forgotten. Give us the will and the way to provide for their relief. Taste and see that the LORD is good;
happy are they who trust in him!
We hold up those who mourn, those who are sorrowful, those who are lonely and forgotten. Use us to offer them hope and courage. Taste and see that the LORD is good;
happy are they who trust in him!
We commend unto your mercy all those who have died, trusting in your unfailing love for all whom you have made. Taste and see that the LORD is good;
happy are they who trust in him!
We pray for ourselves, for the forgiveness of our sins and failings, and for your grace to amend our lives. Give us generous hearts to welcome all who seek our understanding and forgiveness. Taste and see that the LORD is good;
happy are they who trust in him!

Summing up all our petitions and all our thanksgivings, we pray in the words Jesus taught us

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Blessing

Life is short and we have little time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us. So, be swift to love and make haste to be kind and may the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you now and always. Amen.

HYMN: The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended

Officiants: The Reverend Hope H. Eakins, The Reverend William J. Eakins
Music: Alex Manev
Altar Guild: Jane Kline, Directress, Jill Ingham
Usher: Douglas Kline


Expected time of the next service: April 7 at 5:30 pm

Posted by HopeEakins 23:56 Archived in Seychelles

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The flowers remind me of Gwen She loved arranging with tropical 🌸 flowers, Caused comments tropical flowers for Christmas ; winter ones said to me , We were greeted aT ports On our western African cruise drums many times people on stilts dancing , I held my breath but they were good and happy to be doing for us, Daffodils are beginning to bloom,,,,, You both look very happy But we miss you,,,

by Chloe Horton

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