Sermon: Lost –> Found –> Party

43397 Let's Party Brand Logo FINALSermon Text: Luke 15:1-32

Sermon Excerpt

When I was first starting out in ministry I did my best to avoid preaching on certain types of holidays.  I especially tried to avoid preaching on holidays that were not a part of the church/liturgical calendar, but were popular enough that some people expected their celebrations to carry into the worship service.

  • There were the patriotic ones: Independence Day, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.
  • And, there were the family ones: Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Now, this year, as your pastor I will be preaching on all five of these special days.  Except that today, I don’t plan to stand before you in the traditional preacherly role of sage on the stage.  Instead, I will opt for something a bit more interactive as a guide on the side.

Before I turn you loose I want to share a bit about these three parables and give you some instructions for your role as my co-preachers.

The first two parables should be heard as a pair.

  • In one a common shepherd – whom the original hearers would have taken for granted was male – loses a sheep. He forgoes all else – including caring for the other sheep! – and searches till he finds the lost sheep.
  • In the other a woman of modest means – an economic situation the original hearers would have picked up on – loses a coin.  She puts her life on hold – and searches till she finds it.

The man and the woman have the same response to finding what was lost: joy!  And it is the kind of joy that cannot be contained. Both characters share their joy with others.

Which brings us to the most familiar of our three parables.  The one that most of us grew up calling the Parable of the Prodigal Son. From the perspective of the younger son that is a fitting title and it worked well for us as together we responded to his return home with a hearty “Lets party!”

But, there are three characters in the story.  The older brother . . . (read manuscript or watch video)

So What?

While it can be helpful to take Jesus’ parables apart and seek a richer understanding of varying components as a way of approaching the whole, it is important to remember that, in the words of David Lose, “parables don’t need to be explained, they need to be experienced so that they might in time be lived.”

Take a few moments to enter the story of the Prodigal Sons.  Do so first as the younger son, then as the older son, and finally as the father.  Feel free to change the gender of one or all three characters if doing so helps you enter the story.

  • Which of the three experiences resonated most deeply with you?
  • What does it mean for you to “live” the parable as the character you chose?

 

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