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The Rev. William Klock: “Fitting to Celebrate” (Luke 15:25-32)

March 7, 2015

From Fr. Bill Klock of Living Word Reformed Episcopal Church in British Columbia, here is the second sermon on the Parable of the Prodigal Son, titled Fitting to Celebrate.  In this sermon based on Luke 15:25-32, Fr. Bill covers the last half of this parable – the portion that deals with the older brother.  His conclusion does a really good job of making this parable relevant to us today:

The problems we face in the church today are different, but brothers and sisters, Jesus also leaves the parable unfinished so that we can ask where we fit into the story.  Some of us are “younger brothers” and some of us are “older brothers”.  Many of us who have been raised in the Church our whole lives have a tendency to be like the older brother: we forget that we have as much need of God’s grace as the younger brother.  We forget that the Church’s calling and mission is to carry the good news that Jesus is Lord and the good news of cross to those lost in darkness—to the tax collectors and sinners of our own age.  We often have an awful tendency to become self-righteous as we look forward to the day when Jesus returns and all those awful sinners get their comeuppance.  We have an awful tendency to hate our enemies and wish destruction on them, forgetting that Jesus calls us to love our enemies and to pray for them.  We can have an awful tendency to resent the grace God shows to sinners who do repent—as if somehow there isn’t enough grace to go around or as if God’s blessing them with something they don’t deserve and that we do.  Brothers and sisters, if you find yourself thinking like the older brother, repent and join the celebration with Jesus over those who were dead but have been restored to life.

At the same time, some of us are prone to being younger brothers.  We have a tendency to take the grace of God for granted.  We forget the amazing love that the Father has shown us in Jesus and instead of loving him in return, we cash in our inheritance and live for ourselves.  We give up our birthright of glory in favour of a life that ends in a pigsty.  Or maybe we’re not quite that unfaithful to Jesus, but we use our Christian liberty to justify a lifestyle that fails to honour God and we look down on our older brothers—the ones who value being blameless before God—as being old-fashioned, stodgy, and legalistic.

Brothers and sisters, the solution to either attitude is the love of the Father.  Think on that as he invites us to his Table this morning.  Here he offers his grace to sinners of every stripe.  Come this morning and think on the depth of love that not only sought out what was lost, but consider that you and I were not so much like the lost sheep or the lost coin.  Our “lostness” was by choice.  We were once like the prodigal son or the older brother.  We chose to walk away from Father, whether through sin or through self-righteousness—it doesn’t matter which.  We chose to reject the Father.  But he sought us out, he sent his Son to suffer and die for our sake, and now he invites us to the banquet.  In return let us commit ourselves to him and to his kingdom, let us live our lives knowing that Jesus is Lord and that his kingdom has come, and let us share the love and grace of the Father with others that they might join the celebration.

I suppose that at different points in our lives each of us may be more like the older brother, and at other points we might resemble the younger brother – but as Fr. Bill points out, the remedy for each of those is the love of our Heavenly Father.  Quite a good sermon – if you’d like to listen to it, you can do so here.

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