March 31, 2019: Taking Turns This Lent: Turn Back

Fourth Sunday in Lent

“Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Lent is not often pictured as a race, but these words from Hebrews fit well with some of the ways we talk about the season. Lent is the season to look to Jesus once again, to refocus on him and the cross that he took up. It is the season of repentance, or in other words, a time to get back on track and turn again to the ways of discipleship. So as we “run with perseverance the race that is set before us” on this Lenten track, this bulletin back series will encourage us to take many “turns” along the way to be closer to the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

Leading into this gospel lesson, Jesus responds with a series of well-known parables to the grumbles of the Pharisees and scribes about the company he welcomes to dinner. The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin both convey the same message: when someone repents, heaven rejoices! Jesus then tells the parable of the prodigal son, which contains the same message but with far greater detail. He speaks to the experience of the son who is lost. The crowd listening to Jesus hears the son’s regrets about the devastating consequences of his financial decisions and his expectations of being disowned as he rehearses how his initial conversation with his father might go. Despite those feelings, the son ultimately decides to turn back and go home, and when he does, everyone in the parable and everyone listening to the parable is floored by the father’s overwhelming grace.

How can we take this turn?

Are there issues, problems, or conversations that need to be resolved that we are reluctant to turn back to, and where can we turn for support if needed? What things might we try again if we could turn back time? Is there any guilt or regret we need to let go of? What can we do to help us turn back and move closer to God’s open arms?

Dan Miller, pastor, Edgeboro Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania