A Travellerspoint blog

RICHARDS BAY, South Africa

Gateway to the Zulu

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We are in Zululand, surrounded by game reserves and cultural villages. Most everyone on the ship went on short safari adventures today. We are saving our oohs and ahs for the game we hope to see on a three day safari next week, leaving after church on Sunday. So we took the bus to a nearby shopping center and have a number of observations...

South Africa is NOT Mozambique! The highways are well constructed and well landscaped. Pretty little housing clusters sit behind pretty walls BUT all the walls are topped with razor wire. When we arrived at the mall, the first shop we saw was called Security Services and was well stocked with every kind of gun. We had lunch at a Wimpy’s and when the waitress saw our credit card unprotected by a RIFD sleeve, she told us to get it wrapped right away. (Hope’s cheeseburger and Bill’s grilled cheese sandwich tasted pretty good after all our gourmet meals aboard ship.) Somehow we get the idea that it's not very safe here.

So back to the ship where the dock area was lined with local artisans beading necklaces and carving wood. We loved it all. You might see the salad servers and beaded giraffe in the photo if you pay a visit to Scarborough Street.

Tonight we are looking forward to a show of local dance and Qadasi and Maqhinga, whatever they are.

Posted by HopeEakins 09:11 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

MAPUTO, Mozambique

An emerging city

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We used to talk about “third world” countries – now we hear of “developing world” countries, and places like Maputo are the reason why. Poor Mozambique, living through twenty years of a brutal civil war ending in the 1990’s, a horrible cyclone in the 2000’s, and now this year’s cyclone that has brought cholera in its wake. We were here in Maputo six years ago and saw a crumbling city with poor women sitting on sidewalks selling bits of produce. There are plenty of poor women still, but the feel is different. There seems to be some hope and vitality. This was especially so at the Arts and Crafts park where our shuttle bus dropped us. It is HUGE. Kiosks and mats overflow with carved boxes, jewelry, bowls, bone-handled spoons, tables, sculptures, purses, all surrounded by the colors of sarongs and painted canvasses hung on lines. The whole park is filled with hopeful vendors, some of whom won’t leave your side and others of whom are more subtle salesmen – and yes, all men. Who knows where the women are?

After filling our bags with lovely things for all our friends, we needed another carrying bag. Our new friend Ibrahaim showed us many, but we were out of money, so Ibrahaim, not wanting to miss a sale, walked with us to the lovely Hotel Polana where we sought an ATM. No ATM, but we found friends from the ship who were kind enough to make a loan.

Then a terrific manicure at the hotel spa, and back to the port along the coastal road – lined with pretty crumbly government buildings, including the Ministry Against Corruption. We are guessing this department should be expanded.

The city itself is a strange amalgam of ugly modern buildings, Soviet era blocs of moldy concrete, a few colonial remnants, including a beautiful train station designed by Gustav Eiffel (and the marvelous Polana Hotel). It is transected by a massive bridge, actually quite attractive, built by China and opened last year. The bridge connects the city and a suburb and is intended to urbanize the (undeveloped) area on the far side. It looked fine until we looked some more ... and saw only one bus, no cars or trucks, crossing this wide span. Really, five minutes passed and the only vehicle we saw was the bus on its return. Apparently the bridge has been built in faith that “they will come.”

Posted by HopeEakins 23:28 Archived in Mozambique Comments (0)


Not a thriving place, but we didn't get lynched

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So we sailed in an ocean liner to Nosy Be, an island off the island nation of Madagascar and then took the ship’s tender to Hell-ville, a port on Nosy Be, and then got onto a catamaran (Nosy Marine) to sail to an adjacent island, Nosy Komba. We had a "wet landing," rolling up pants legs and wading through water and across rocks. A good icon of this place is the dhow in the photo below, a beautifully shaped vessel with a traditional lateen sail, this one in tatters.

At Nosy Komba we saw: really cute children, the local school, the main residential street, with chickens. The photo is of the upscale end of town where three dwellings stood together without collapse. Nosy Komba has a commercial district, mostly selling items displayed on tarps, like the pile of footwear below. They also sell tablecloths, embroidered by local women. Hundreds of cloths hung on clotheslines; few tourists are around to buy them. High above the village is a little forest filled with black lemurs who hop on and off people’s shoulders to hunt for banana treats. Tourists have been kidnapped, lynched, and murdered here in recent times, the last event in 2016. We were glad to take the boat brigade back to the Silver Whisper.


Posted by HopeEakins 23:28 Archived in Madagascar Comments (0)


on Sunday, April 7, The Fifth Sunday of Lent in Mamoudzou, Mayotte

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WORSHIP Aboard the Silver Whisper April 7, 2019

HYMN: Now thank we all our God

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us pray. Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life, grant us so to know your Son Jesus to be the way, the truth, and the life that we may steadfastly follow in his steps who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 130: 1, 4-7

Out of the depths have I called to you, O LORD; LORD, hear my voice;
let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.
I wait for the LORD; my soul waits for him;
in his word is my hope.
My soul waits for the LORD, more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, wait for the LORD,
for with the LORD there is mercy;
With him there is plenteous redemption,
and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.

A Reading from the Gospel of John

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. When Jesus arrived [there], he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:1, 17-44)

A Reflection The Reverend Hope H. Eakins

So where is Lazarus today? That dead man who was raised to life? When Jesus commanded, “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus did. So where do you think he is now? The answer is painfully obvious. Lazarus isn’t around because Lazarus died – maybe a week later or a year later or a decade later – but Lazarus died like the rest of us.

So why did Jesus bother to raise Lazarus in the first place? Well, I think that Jesus commanded the dead man to rise in order to teach us that death has no dominion over us. Jesus is not promising that we will never die, or giving us hope that all our loved ones will come back to life some day. Instead, he is saying in the most dramatic way he can that death does not have the last word. We know that our bodies are mortal and will return to the dust some day, but Jesus is telling us that, like Lazarus, we are also immortal, and that since we have life eternal ahead of us, we can rejoice right now.

It is hard to rejoice in a promise that won’t come true until after we are dead. It is hard to rejoice in eternal life when what we want is more life that isn’t quite so eternal. Several Ash Wednesdays ago, I preached on repentance. Repentance means turning around, I said, coming back to God, because God is patient and kind and always willing to forgive. I was preaching words of promise, words of hope, but a little girl named Hannah didn't hear them that way. What Hannah heard were the fearful words I spoke when I put ashes on her forehead. “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” I said, and Hannah was frightened. Her mother brought her to me, a sobbing little bundle, scared of living, scared of dying. “I don’t want to repent,” she said, “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to go to heaven.”

I know how Hannah felt, and we all do. Because we have no experience of what lies beyond life, death is terrifying. When we lose someone we love, all we have is the sadness and the emptiness, the anguish of it all. Yes, we have Jesus’ promise of eternal life, but it is only a promise.

When Lazarus’s sister Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha already knew about the resurrection on the last day, but she wanted to know how to get through the anguish and loneliness and emptiness in her heart that day. Jesus didn't reassure Martha with promises that Lazarus had gone to a better place; he didn’t deliver well-turned phrases about the good deeds and the memories of Lazarus that would live on. Instead he said, “I am resurrection and I am life.” Stick with me, Martha, and you shall have life now, true life, not life lived in fear, but life lived in joy.

Jesus did not, does not, want Mary or Martha or any one of us to wait until the last day to celebrate. He told Martha that resurrection and life was standing right there before her. He told her that her mourning, her dry hard soul, her emptiness, her fear, could be redeemed and transformed. And than to show her that faith and hope and love could be raised up from death, Jesus raised up Lazarus.

Those who mourn can’t see beyond their grief. They wait to hear a footstep that never comes; they long to hear a voice that never speaks. Breaking into that despair comes Jesus, promising, “If you believe in me, you will have life.” Of course you’ll die, but while you live, you’ll be really alive. Jesus promises us eternal life that begins NOW.

It is life, not death, which matters. So when Christians put their hope in Jesus Christ, they don’t send their bodies to frozen in cryogenic chambers or build pyramids to keep their mortal remains intact. Christians are people engaged in living. They come to worship the one who IS resurrection and life. They build hospitals and orphanages and homeless shelters and soup kitchens, because life matters, and because the way that they receive God’s love is by sharing God’s love. Christians are people who make merry, rejoicing that God is with them always, in life and in death. Christians are people who believe that death cannot kill them.

Mary said the same thing to Jesus that Martha had said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus didn’t give any explanations to Mary; he only wept with her. When Jesus shed his tears over Lazarus, he was weeping with every one of us who has ever lost a loved one. Surely he has born our grief and carried our sorrow. Surely he helps us cry, helps us cry with hope, tells us that we are never alone, even when, especially when, we cry.

To ease Martha’s despair Jesus offered a theological answer: I am resurrection and I am life. Fear not, Martha, for I have promised Lazarus and I promise you life immortal. To answer Mary’s sorrow, Jesus offered his tears.

And who is to say which is the more remarkable – a man who raises the dead … or a God who weeps?

The Prayers

Almighty God, we give you thanks that we are in your hands and that death never has the last word. Give us courage to take risks in the confidence that you are beside us. O Lord, hear our cry;
Our hope is in you.

Bless the leaders of all nations with wisdom and valor to see and serve the needs of the world.
O Lord, hear our cry;
Our hope is in you.

Open our ears to hear the cry of those bound by human trafficking and slavery yet today. Grant us courage to act in your Name to bring them hope and new life. O Lord, hear our cry;
Our hope is in you.

We entrust into your never-failing care the sick and lonely whom we hold in our hearts. Lift the burdens of the poor; strengthen the addicted in their work of recovery; heal the suffering, and comfort those who mourn.
O Lord, hear our cry;
Our hope is in you.

Protect those who travel, children at risk, parents whose sons and daughters have gone astray, and all who stand at crossroads. O Lord, hear our cry;
Our hope is in you.

Shield our armed forces and the police, firefighters, security guards and public safety officials who defend the peace. O Lord, hear our cry;
Our hope is in you.

Inspire artists and musicians, actors and dancers, authors and composers, to use their gifts to inspire your people and illumine the questions of our time. O Lord, hear our cry;
Our hope is in you.

Forgive us our sins, strengthen us to do what is right, and help us make amends for our wrongdoing.
O Lord, hear our cry;
Our hope is in you.

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
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit, and may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

HYMN: Amazing grace

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

Expected time of next service: Palm Sunday, April 14 at 9:15 am

Posted by HopeEakins 02:04 Archived in France Comments (0)


Suddenly we are in Europe!

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Mamoudzou is the largest city on Mayotte. Mayotte is a little (144 square miles) group of little islands between Madagascar and Mozambique. Along with the islands of a country called Comoros, Mayotte used to be part of France, but when the Comoros claimed independence in 1975, Mayotte voted to stay as a French Department, just like Côte d’Or and Dordogne. The Comoros still claim Mayotte as their own, but nobody, including the UN agrees. Being a department very good deal for the people; this is a very poor place and the French aid is critical.

We sailed into a beautiful harbor, dotted with small yachts and were greeted in the port by dancing children. Boarding a huge ferry we crossed from Grand Terre to Petite Terre and went by bus to the village of Labattoir (this should have been a clue: abattoir=slaughterhouse) and thence to Lake Dziani. We climbed through a trash heap to a steep rock strewn path for 20 minutes in 99 degree heat to see the grand vista and .... the lake. You can see our view below, the small green crater lake with the white scum on it. We were invited to take photos of the spectacular panorama. You’re looking at it.

Next to Badamiers, a beach at low tide, with at least 150 feet of mud and broken things and garbage littering the shore. Then to a local restaurant where we were given a hacked off coconut, and finally to a vegetable market. Once back on Grande Terre we encountered a clothing market, with locals picking through bales of old tee shirts and children’s pants, likely donated by some of you.

All in all, we don’t recommend a visit here. Trivia was pretty good, however. When asked “What sport involves using a squidge to make a squat?” our brilliant teammate Michael Ingham knew the answer: tiddley winks.

Posted by HopeEakins 09:11 Archived in France Comments (1)


Indeed a World Heritage Site

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Zanzibar, a colony of Oman (1840), an independent nation (1963), and now a state of Tanzania (since 1961). Zanzibar is a richly diverse island with a collection of cultures and languages, and we delighted in our visit to its Swahili speaking capital city, Stone Town. Once ruled by sultans and slave traders, Zanzibar retains its aura of mystery and exotic beauty, i.e., no high rises or communication towers. We walked its hot (90 degree) streets and saw beautiful doors and teeming markets. (Yes, those are flies on the chickens.) There may be rubble on the streets but there is NO garbage.

The Anglican Church is huge. It was built in 1874 to mark the end of slavery, and the altar stands over the whipping post where slaves were tied. 60,000 slaves a year passed through this place, once the hub for the slave trade in all of East Africa. The stained glass windows include Simon of Cyrene, Augustine, and the Ethiopian Eunuch (a first for us)! The buildings of the cathedral close include a school, a wing over former slave quarters, a moving sculpture of slaves in a pit, and a cross made from wood of the tree planted where David Livingstone’s heart is buried. Mothers Union members hover over it all.

Posted by HopeEakins 21:30 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)


A place of great contrast

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Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. We weren’t supposed to come here. We were scheduled to be in Mombassa, but the powers that be decided that Kenya was too dangerous, so we shifted southward. No one complained.

Our visit to Dar began with two pictures in stark contrast. On our left, some of the ship’s crisply dressed butlers waved their goodbyes; on our right, a Tanzanian welcome party banged their drums and danced. Dar is a place of contrasts like this. High-rises tower above streets with potholes so large that traffic can’t cross. The President’s House occupies blocks of space in the city center, surrounded by a wall of rusting metal and corrugated plastic. The Ocean Road (now called Obama Road) is beautiful, but dominated by a dreadful electronic billboard that flashes on and off.

The first day here in Dar, we visited two museums. The National Museum and House of Culture displays various ethnographic items, a bed, a chunk of a wall with bowls embedded, and a model of a fossil skull called Nutcracker Man. Also on display in a shed were autos driven by various presidents and an old fuel pump that provided the gasoline. In the garden was a magnificent bodi tree sacred to Buddhists and thousands of years old. No, don’t rush to get tickets, but you’ve got to admire a developing culture that thinks it’s really important to have a museum.

Then to the Makumbusho Village Museum displaying the huts of many different tribes. More dancers. All had red tee shirts, one saying “San Diego Zoo.”

Finally we went to Tinga Tinga, an artists colony that produces an amazing amount of colorful canvasses and ebony carvings.

The second day in Dar we took the ship’s shuttle bus to a hotel whose lobby was loaded with fellow travellers using the WiFi (the ship’s system is absolutely dreadful) and then took a taxi to St. Alban's Anglican Cathedral where we met the Bishop's secretary, pauline. Pauline is about 4'11" tall and formidable woman who knows a lot and makes sure everything is done right. St. Alban's nestles beneath one of the new high-rises, but it is not small. In the close are a Mother's Union Cafe, a church school building, parish offices, and an office for a fierce guard who requires face to face inspection before you are allowed to enter.

All in all, we sort of fell in love with this gritty, lively place. The people are kind and friendly, healthy and energetic. Everyone is working at something and they all are proud of their country. The schools must be doing something right because most everyone is proficient in English and wants to practice.


Posted by HopeEakins 06:05 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)


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 Comments (1)