Lent 4 C 2022 Amazing Grace Sermon
Luke 15:1-3, 11b – 32
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.”
These words express the joy and wonder of God’s grace and the love and mercy God has for each one of us. How wonderful it is to sing “The Lord has promised good to me; His Word my hope secures; He will my shield and portion be. As long as life endures.”
And yet it is difficult for many people today to comprehend God’s grace and mercy because we live in a world that is not merciful. In fact, we live in a world today that often acts in a way contrary to God’s mercy and grace. Too often the news events that we hear about do not mention forgiveness and mercy but highlight revenge.
Why??? Because God’s grace and compassion is often opposite to the thinking of this world.
But God’s love and mercy is precisely the cure that our world needs today. Bitterness, anger, resentment, and revenge are destroying the world that we live in. But there is a better way to live.
Our Gospel reading this morning is all about God’s grace and God’s mercy. In the “Parable of the Prodigal Son,” we hear Jesus instruct us that no one is too far gone (that no one is too sinful) to warrant exclusion from God’s grace.
When the prodigal son left home and squandered everything he had inherited from his father, he found himself to be in a very bad place.
And while he was hungry, broke, lost in a foreign land, and reeking of pigs, the young man came to his senses. Realizing that there is a better way to live, the young man decided to return home and offer himself as a servant in his father’s household.
The young man realized that he was no longer worthy to be a member of his father’s household. The young man just wanted to have something to eat and a pillow under his head at night.
And, if he had to work alongside the servants in his father’s house for this to happen, so be it.
But the young man was wrong. Even when the son was still a tiny speck out in the horizon, his father saw him and loved him. And it is clear from the text that the father had been waiting for him, watching, and hoping that his son would come to his senses and see the error of his ways and return home.
Our text states: “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.” And before the young man could finish his rehearsed speech, he found himself being welcomed back, not as a servant, but as a son.
His father gave him the best robe. His father gave him sandals to wear on his feet to distinguish him from the servants who went barefoot. His father gave him a ring which was a sign of authority. And his father had the fattened calf killed so they could celebrate with the calf who had been specifically fed for a feast. And the father did all this because his son, who was dead, was alive again. He did this because his son who had been lost, is now found.
And the theological point is this. Our Heavenly Father is always waiting for us to return to Him. And no matter what we have done, or sin(s) we have committed, God is waiting for us with a loving heart to welcome us back as sons and daughters, and not as servants or second-class citizens in God’s family.
Unfortunately, some people have a hard time understanding how God could be so merciful and so accepting. We see this attitude in the prodigal’s son’s older brother.
The older brother, when he discovers that his younger brother has returned home, sulks and refuses to join the party.
The older brother says to his father “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him.”
Thankfully, the father did not accept his older son’s viewpoint.
The father said to him “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
Yes. God’s mercy and grace are exactly what the world needs now. There is a better way to live. Pain, suffering, rejection, hardship, do not have the last say in our lives. Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling for us today to “Come Home.”
As our Lenten verse states “Return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.”
Yes, it is true. “Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.”
Let us pray: Merciful Father, we confess we have squandered your blessings and turned our backs on your love. Help us to repent and return to you, confident that you will welcome us as your sons and daughters. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.