Mt. McKinley in Alaska, originally known as Denali, "the Great One." .... "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; for you are my refuge..." (Ps. 61:2-3)

       "Who do you say that I am?" Jesus asked.  Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."  And Jesus answered, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! ... You are Peter (petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my church..."  Jesus then began to speak of the rough road ahead. And Peter took him aside and rebuked him... "Get behind me, Satan!" Jesus replied. "You are a stumbling block..."
                                                (Matthew 16:13-23)

May these words of this Peter be like a rock,
not a stumbling block!

"A tale of two eyes"

Message preached March 12, 2006
Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Glen Arm, Maryland USA

based upon Luke 15:25-32

Order of Worship

              This is the second in a series of sermons on the "seven deadly sins" focuses upon "Envy," and the virtue of "Gratitude" which draws those who seek it into a deeper and richer life in Christ. In this "amble and ramble" (i.e. there is no manuscript) message, we enter the conversation from the often overlooked perspective of the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son.

            The wayward son, you may recall, was himself lead to a far country in search of greener, more exciting pastures - or should we say "fleshpots."  His own story is one of envy pulling him away from home, but also - after a fashion - drawing him back to his father. After all, when his money ran out and he was reduced to a life lower than the pigs he was employed to feed, he envied the good, old days of his childhood. Being realistic, he knew the bridges behind him had been burned, that life as he had known it was gone for good, he still considered the possibility of servitude on his father's estate to be a better deal than his current circumstances. So "envy," if you will, led him home.

            Of course, once there his father reached out with welcoming arms and clothed him in love and affection as one who was once lost but now is found. Here's where the story of the older brother begins, and we will allow him free reign to develop what envy does for those who seek to remain faithful. Too often in the church we tell radical prodigal stories to those who have not wandered in so obvious a way. We love the tales, and maybe are envious because we do not have our own to tell. Ah, but if the truth be known, we do. The "faithful" can get caught up in the deadening effect of "envy" as easily as anyone else. It kills our joy. Witness the older brother, who could not enjoy his brother's return.

            We look at this parable through the eyes of the older brother. But this is "A tale of two eyes," and the second set to which we will refer is not that of the younger brother. Rather it is the perspective of the waiting father who provides the invitation to release "envy" and receive joy, focusing upon gratitude - living in the moment of grace when what matters is what we have had all along but may have forgotten or misplaced: the love of the father (standing in for God).

            Jesus' story ends with an unspoken and unanswered question - will the brother come to the party, setting aside his envy and embracing the joy? That is the question that will become an invitation at the end of this message. Will you come to the celebration? Verses 3-5 of my song, "Come to the table", will come after this invitation, followed by a time of reflection that leads to the offering, interpreted as a coming to the table of God's jubilation.

(para traducir a español, presione la bandera de España)


©2006 Peter L. Haynes
(you are welcome to borrow and, where / as appropriate, note the source - myself or those from whom I have knowingly borrowed.)

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