FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT
March 27, 2022
“But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life (Lk 15:32)”
The last time I spoke from this pulpit, I spoke of how my great-aunt taught me to see the light; the light for revelation to the nations (Lk 2:32). Now, I will speak of Coming Home; of being seen and of putting aside anger in order to come home to God. Jesus’ mission can be understood as building up the household of faith. When Jesus called Levi to follow him, what was the first ministry event they did together? They threw a party for all sorts of people who needed homes because as Jesus said, “I have come to call not the righteous but the sinners to repentance (5:32).” He called them home. Be it Simon the Pharisee (7:36) or the countless nameless leaders who invited him for a meal (14:1), his ministry was homeward bound. Jesus wanted his disciples likewise to be homeward-bound people. He sent seventy of his disciples to, “remain in…houses, eating and drinking whatever they provide…and say to the people, “The Kingdom of God has come near to you.” After Jesus ascended into heaven, his Spirit compelled Simon Peter to see this ministry.
Lent is a season of finding our way back to God. There are personal Lenten disciplines we all follow in some way or another; I have given up, giving up something for Lent. Be it fasting, contemplative prayer, unplugging we all are attempting to find the way home, the way for our hearts to know that we are at home with God. Our co
We are a homeward bound people, in a homeward-bound season in the church. The context of the Lenten gospel text is the journey to Jerusalem. Together with Jesus, we are led on towards Golgotha where our Lord was crucified (Lk 23:33) and where our Lord went to prepare a home for us in the Father’s many mansion-ed house (Jn 14:2). Our Lenten disciplines help us cast aside habits that have led us away from this journey home; be it fasting, prayer, acts of charity, unplugging (we are tiding up our own spiritual homes, if you will). Together we confront the collective zeitgeist and find spiritual support in each other. We are, if you will Simon of Cyrene to one another, bearing each other’s crosses, homeward bound to God. What does this phrase mean, to be homeward bound with God?
What does it mean for us to be at home with God?
Is this a footnote in the grand narrative of Christ’s life? Or is it central to Jesus own ministry of the kingdom? From Levi, to Simon the Pharisee to Simon Peter, Jesus made himself at home with both insiders and outsiders of his movement. God urged Simon Peter back to this central insight as he supped with Cornelius and his household. In essence, God was telling Peter to “Come Home.” You who are weary come home, build this home between gentile and Jewish believer upon that stone that the builder rejected: God’s universal reconciliation, Jesus Christ. What is the message of reconciliation for us today? What does it mean for us to be reconciled at this present time. The sermon shall be, “God’s Reconciliation as a building an integral home.” In particular I want to focus on first,
reconciliation as a state of being at home in the world but not of the world. Then, reconciliation as a state of mind, the interior journey. Finally, reconciliation as building the body of Christ as a happy home.
Reconciliation: A State of Being at home
The Younger Son lived conversely than his elder brother. He had a state of being in the world but not at home, and especially not of his father’s home. He asked his father for his share of the inheritance while his father was still living. He wanted to be out of his Father’s world and go out into the much wider cosmos to experience its earthly delights.
Henri Nouwen in his book, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming, describes his (and our own) journey home as one of reconciliation with God. Nouwen had to reconcile those aspects of his life most controlling his own reconciliation with others; the need to be loved, a sense of unworthiness, anger, resentments, frustrations, willingness to receive forgiveness. As Nouwen sat before Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son, he began to note the soft hands of the Father, the invitation to the Elder Son to join the embrace. In other words, he started to become what he had received: the presence of God’s reconciliation, Christ to others. He started to see his ministry amongst the residents of L’Arc as a call to build home within himself and between himself and others.