Point of View

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION Let us pray for the Holy Spirit of God to guide our thoughts …

God of Wonder and Glory, you created this awesome world. Send your Spirit of justice and righteousness, to guide us in understanding your truth and wisdom that cuts through the lies. Your arms are open wide, like a waiting father for his prodigal children, ready to welcome and restore us with your Word of grace. Guide us to the streams of living water, that we may drink and be satisfied, renewed for our continuing journey with Jesus. Amen.

 

FIRST SCRIPTURE READING – Of David, A Maskil.    Psalm 32 The Joy of Forgiveness

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah (pause)Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah (pause) Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah (pause) I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you. Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

 

CALL TO CONFESSION                                                                             (inspired by Luke 15:11-32)

The Prodigal acknowledges our sinfulness and repents saying: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I am no longer fit to be called your child. Please make me one of your hired laborers.”

Let us return to our Heavenly Father, and make our confession in our unison prayer…

PRAYER OF CONFESSION                   

God who delivers and redeems, we have failed to live into the promise of new life. (pause) We have been afraid to enter troubled waters self-examination and demonstrating our faith each day. (pause) When we refuse to admit our sin, it eats away at us, little by little, weakening us in body and soul. (pause) We have sought ease and comfort in exchange for ignoring the hungry and sick in our world.  (pause) Before God we lay the sin that is weighing us down, so we can be freed from its burden, and receive God’s mercy and love. (pause)

(A time of silence for personal confession)

Forgive us when we have seen our faith in such narrow understanding of your love. Have mercy on us. Call us into new life, a life that is lived in the promise of Your love for the whole world. Loving God, you have reconciled us in Christ Jesus and have given us the ministry of reconciliation. We pray for all those from whom we are estranged. Bring healing to strained or broken relationships. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

SECOND SCRIPTURE READING–        2 Corinthians 5:16-21     The Ministry of Reconciliation

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

What’s your point of view?  The church in Corinth struggled to look at the world from a Christian point of view. The culture surrounded them with a seductive, salacious, and scandalous worldly view. Many Corinthians lived immersed in the pagan culture until they encountered the Living Christ. A neighbor or friend initially introduced them to the idea of the Jewish Messiah.

From this human point of view they intellectually wrestled with the idea of a Savior. Then the Holy Spirit took them deeper into a personal relationship and they developed a faith that transformed them into a new creation in Christ. The old life, filled with sin and rebellion passed away through the cross of forgiveness. Their neighbors, family, and friends observed how they became new.

These new Christians became reconciled with God through Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. This gift of new life comes from God who forgives sinners and creates fresh starts. God does not hold our past sins against us. In thankful response to God’s grace, we obtain a new point of view to see ourselves, others, and the world around us.

Then all Christians are called to ambassadors of Christ and be involved in the ministry of reconciliation. We have opportunities to share our new perspective with others. We can be God’s change agents helping others to exchange a human point of view with a heavenly perspective. Unfortunately, even Christians who’ve received our Heavenly Father’s gift of love, fail to change our earthly point of view. We want to hold tight to our position of privilege. Jesus told The Parable the Prodigal and His Brother

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.’” (Luke 15:11-32)

Luke gives us a unique point of view through a series of lost parables: coins, sheep, and a son. God diligently seeks each until they become found. Jesus tells parables to change the point of view of arrogant leaders. The Pharisees criticized the Lord’s propensity to spend time with sinners of all sorts. From the Jewish perspective Tax Collectors collaborated with Roman oppressors and cheated. And the sexually immoral sinners defiled the temple of God.

So, the sons in the parable represent two perspectives of Jewish life. One remains home and serves dutifully. The other sinfully squanders his inheritance with dissolute living. The elder son from a human point of view remains a good Jew while the younger one receives the scorn of the righteous leaders.

Then the younger one changes his point of view and comes to himself. He realizes his sinfulness. He repents and returns home to his Father who constantly watches and hopes that one day, he will return. The younger seeks to be reconciled to his Father, acknowledging his failure and seeks to return to a lower position as a consequence of his sins. The Father welcomes him home, restores his relationship as a beloved son, and celebrates his transformed point of view.

On the other hand, the elder son still needs an adjustment to his attitude. With self-righteousness, he holds a human point of view and feels that the Father’s extravagant love is misguided. He doesn’t feel like he needs any change of attitude. Filled with jealousy, he refuses to change his point of view. He pleads with the Father to reconsider this egregious affront to the way things ought to be.

Like the elder brother, the religious leaders miss the call of Christ to be involved in the ministry of reconciliation. They do not want to change their point of view from a human one to a spiritual purpose. Jesus calls us to allow the Holy Spirit to transform our earthly point of view to a heavenly one. We are called to be ambassadors of Christ’s point of view to our friends, family, neighbors and strangers. We are reconciled to God by Christ’s act of love and we are called to be involved in helping others be reconciled to our Lord. TGBTG. Amen.

  May 2017  
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