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ECUMENICAL WORSHIP Aboard the Silver Whisper

March 27, 2022

sunny 72 °F

HYMN: Come thou almighty king

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us pray. Gracious God, you have assured us of your never-failing love through your Son Jesus who poured himself out for us in his life and in his death. Give us grace so to live that we may show forth your love to all the world, filled with faith and hope in him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 34

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.

I will glory in the LORD;
let the humble hear and rejoice.

Proclaim with me the greatness of the LORD;
let us exalt his Name together.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me out of all my terror.

Look upon him and be radiant,
and let not your faces be ashamed.

I called in my affliction and the LORD heard me
and saved me from all my troubles.

The angel of the LORD encompasses those who fear him,
and he will deliver them.

Taste and see that the LORD is good;
happy are they who trust in him! (1-8)

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke

Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’” (15:11-32)

The Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

A Reflection The Reverend Hope H. Eakins

You know the story of the prodigal son, the boy who asks for his inheritance early and then squanders it on loose living. You know about him - this younger brother who leaves home and goes to a far country with no real intention of ever coming back. He is the sinner who wastes his life tending pigs, which was not something a good Jewish boy would do, and ends up eating pig slop until he discovers that the swine had a better deal than he did.

You know about him because you have been a prodigal too. Have you not wasted your inheritance, wasted opportunities set before you? I have. Have you not spent your talents, your integrity, your money on unworthy things? Harry has. Harry is a young man who worked hard in college, so hard that he thinks he has the right to find himself, to travel, to take some time off. He has spent all the money that he got for graduation and he is living with, living off, a woman he met on his way. This month he called home and asked for a loan.

You know the story of the prodigal son’s father, the one who never forgets his ungrateful rebellious child even for an hour, the one who gazes down the road in the impossible hope that the far country really isn’t so far away after all, until one day he sees him. One day he catches a glimpse of his skinny dirty child straggling home and before the prodigal has uttered a word, the father races out and kisses his face and embraces him with laughter and tears that don't need any words to say, “I love you son, welcome home.” Emily knows that story. Emily was married to George for fifteen years when George met another woman. When George left her for a trial separation, Emily kept hoping that he would come to his senses. And one day George did just that, and Emily embraced him and through her tears she said it, “I love you, George, welcome home.” I asked Emily if they ever talk about George’s affair. “Yes, she said, “because George needs to explain and apologize, but I don’t really want to know about it. All that matters is that he is home.”

In the Gospel story, the prodigal son was home; that was all that mattered. His father doesn’t do what any other father under heaven would have been inclined to do. He doesn’t say, “I hope you learned a lesson,” or “I told you so,” or “I hope you find some way to make this up to your mother.” He says instead, “Quickly, quickly bring the best for this boy who has returned. Bring him the best robe and some shoes and kill the fatted calf for we must celebrate.” The generous prodigality of the father is even greater than the foolish prodigality of the son. Nothing is too much. Look at the images of restoration! The father runs to the son, embraces him, kisses him; he gives him clothing and a ring as a sign of the son’s restored status, shoes to show that he was a member of the family, because slaves didn't wear shoes and guests took them off. He kills the calf and makes merry because what was lost has been found.

You know the story of the older brother, the one who hears the sounds of rejoicing and refuses to go inside to see what the commotion is all about. He must have known; he is not blind, but he calls the slaves and lets it be known that he will have no part of it. “Your brother has come home,” they tell him, and the older son is so consumed by his envy and his pride that he stays in the fields and refuses to join the feast. Have you not been the older brother? I have. I have seen “older brothers” in our church. Andy and Hal were seminary classmates together and then they were both curates waiting to have their own parishes. Andy’s turn almost came first. Andy was the first choice of the search committee, but when a committee member called Hal to check references, Hal wasn’t very enthusiastic. Oh, Hal didn’t lie, he just suggested that Andy’s obvious skills might not stand up well in the long haul. If Hal were going to get stuck out in the back field, he didn't want to go to an installation party where they might serve fatted calf.

But God bids all of us jealous older brothers and sisters to come to the party anyway, because the fatted calf is for everybody. When the older son pouts in the back field, the father takes the initiative to invite him in. The father’s words are an exact parallel of the words he speaks to the prodigal son because both sons have been in a far country. While the younger son is recklessly carousing, the older son is so lost in his rules and his envy and his insecurity that he forgets what it means to be home. He forgets that love is never diminished if it is shared. He forgets that he has had his father’s love his whole life long and never appreciated it. There is some of the older son in each of us. We get jealous when somebody else gets an undeserved break.

The title of this parable is not in the Bible. It is not God but we human beings who call it the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the son who wasted his inheritance. The parable should really be called the Parable of the Prodigal Father, the father who was also wasteful, recklessly extravagant, profuse in giving what he had, spending it on a son who didn't deserve any of it, but who was loved anyway. Jesus told us this story to tell us that this is what God is like, prodigal in love, always waiting for us, ready to embrace us and cook a feast to celebrate our arrival.

Jesus is the way the Father runs out and looks for us. Jesus is the one who comes from home to bring us back home. Jesus is the one who went into the pigsty of this world where he ended up on a cross so that we might wear the family ring and the finest robe and eat the fatted calf.

Every time we spend our love and every time we decide to live with hope and trust God’s promises, every time we share what we have because we know that there IS enough to go around, God says to us the same thing that the prodigal father says to both his sons: “let us celebrate and rejoice, let us eat and be merry; what is lost has been found, for my child has come home.”

The Prayers

Let us pray. Grant, Almighty God, that all who confess your Name may be united in your truth, live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Guide the people of all the nations in the ways of justice and concord; that we may honor one another and serve the common good. Sustain the people of Ukraine as their land is ravaged and bless those who would seek peace with wisdom and insight. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Give us a reverence for the earth as your own creation, that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others and to your honor and glory. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We ask your blessing upon the crew and staff of the Silver Whisper, and we commend our families and those we love into your care. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit; give them courage and hope in their troubles, and bring them the joy of your saving presence. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We commend to your mercy all who have died, that your will for them may be fulfilled; and we pray that we may share with all your saints in your eternal kingdom. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Summing up all the prayers of our hearts, we pray in the words Jesus taught us
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Blessing

Life is short and we have little time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us. So, be swift to love and make haste to be kind….and may the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you now and always. Amen.

HYMN: There's a wideness in God's mercy.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Officiants: The Reverend Hope H. Eakins, The Reverend William J. Eakins
Music: Alex Manev
Usher: Andrea Ryan

Time of next service to be announced.

Posted by HopeEakins 11:28 Archived in Saudi Arabia

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I love the idea of the prodigal father. As A daughter who "stayed home" and took care of her siblings, I always connected with the older brother. "What about me?" It is a new way of looking at this story, with a loving father who who noticed and loved the whole time..

by Seabury

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