Emmitsburg Council of Churches


The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

15:1 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 15:2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them." 15:3 So he told them this parable:

"There was a man who had two sons. 15:12 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. 15:13 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. 15:14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15:15 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. 15:16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 15:17 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! 15:18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 15:19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands."' 15:20 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. 15:21 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.' 15:22 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. 15:23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 15:24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!' And they began to celebrate. 15:25 "Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 15:26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 15:27 He replied, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.' 15:28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 15:29 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. 15:30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!' 15:31 Then the father said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 15:32 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.'" This is the Gospel of the Lord,

Praise to you O Christ!

Ambassadors for Christ!!

The Brother of the Prodigal Son, Could have set a high example for his younger brother. Today I would like to entertain the idea that the older brother in the parable should have been an Ambassador for his wayward brother. He should have negotiated for his re-acceptance into the family.

It is possible that, if he cared, The Older Brother might have ran ahead to meet his younger brother. Perhaps to tell him, "Hey, listen carefully to me, I want to help you. You've got to be careful how you approach Dad. I mean, he's heard all kinds of stories about how you squandered the money he gave you. Maybe I can get Dad calmed down before you you meet with him."

If the Older Brother was playing the Role of an Ambassador, such as the Apostle Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 5:20, he might have negotiated for peace for his younger brother. "Here's an idea I have, why don't you remain out here a few more days, I'll get you some food. And in the mean time, I'll work on Father before you come home. I'll tell him that you really feel bad about the way things went, and how you want to make it right. I'll try to make some kind of arrangements so Dad won't be so angry that your coming home broke. That way he won't scream and yell at you for living foolishly."

At least the older brother could have tried to be compassionate in some way.

On the Other Hand, we know that in the Parable Jesus tells, the older Brother was anything but an Ambassador, in fact, he was not looking to make peace with his brother, but rather he was filled with resentment about how the Younger brother was getting a big feast, "Father actually welcomed the little brat home! Gave him a party, roasted steaks on the grill, put a gold ring on his finger!! This brother of mine didn't even deserve a McDonald's Happy Meal!! After all, I'm the eldest son, and I've never so much as asked for a Goat to have a party with for my friends!"

The Older brother was not thinking of making amends with his younger brother, no–far from it! Rather he was expressing jealousy, envy and spite.

Have you ever experienced these feelings?? We're usually pretty good at coming up with little ideas in our minds. You know, like you see someone who seems to have it all going for them, but you think to yourself – "They really don't deserve to have it so good. After all, I'm doing everything right, I listen to Mom and Dad, I do what the boss asks at work, I obey the Speed Limit!! Well, most of the time!

Hey, I'm a pretty good person, so why should God forgive that person for all the bad things they've done. I mean, if God loves that person and wants to bless them, then I ought to be due all kinds of favors!"

Or, "Why does that guy or that gal get the lucky break while I'm over here working hard without any fanfare!@? God, this just isn't fair!"

If you notice yourself having these kinds of feelings, then you

might do well to notice that you just stopped being an Ambassador for Jesus!! You know the feeling, you know the Kinds of thoughts that begin to run through your mind,

"I've been a faithful member of this church for 50 years(!!), and done all the work around here! And here this new person comes along and acts like they own the place!" *FLASHBACK!!

"Why I've been working for you Dad for 50 years, and I've not even asked for so much as a goat to roast and have a party with my friends!" . . . . Sounding familiar??

A Side Note, God's Word is the same–yesterday, today and tomorrow!! It never loses it's meaning, just like Human nature never changes. Oh, you may think we've changed a little over the past 2000 years, but Lord Knows! We haven't changed a bit!

So here's the bottom line: Jesus is telling us that, yea, you Christians are indeed children of God! Yes, by the waters of Holy Baptism, you become washed, purified, righteous children of God and you belong to the Lord.

In fact, the Lord loves you and is filling you more and more with his Grace and Peace. This is what we live for as Christians! But we have to watch ourselves, that we don't become proud. We don't want to become like the older brother in the parable who gets resentful when God's grace is lavishly poured out on another child of his who has not yet walked in the ways of the Lord.

We ought not allow our flesh (human nature!), which seeks to justify itself, room to spoil the matter of God's grace at work in someone else's life. Did you catch that?? This is important: Since we are Christ's Ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), we have a responsibility to be the ones to encourage others. We are supposed to be setting the good example! We are the ones who should not allow Spiritual Pride to get in the way of our duty to love and lead others to Christ, who is the source of the grace we live in and our salvation!

Instead, as we hear in Paul's words to the Corinthians, we are to become Ambassadors for Christ! We who are the very embodiment of what God is doing in the world, need to so express and live out God's grace and love in the practicalities of our lives, that we become the very means of transferring this grace and love to those who are more needy than ourselves.

It could be that Jesus is expressing this idea to his Jewish brothers and sisters in the parable. As we know, the Israelites were the chosen people of God, they are like the Older Brother who is beloved. In essence, Jesus allows that the younger brother is a Gentile, who, by Jewish standards would not be worthy of God's love. And yet we see the Father welcome the younger wayward brother home.

Jesus challenges his fellow Israelites to show the good example, Of course they are the Beloved. By their good example more people who need to know God's love and experience his grace can come to know it First Hand!! So, we also, who are In Christ, are asked to show the better example. Loving sinners and acceptance of others whom we might not deem worthy of God's holiness or people who name God by a different name than we're accustomed to, this is the beginning duty of every Ambassador for Christ. And by all means, "Beloved, let us love one another!" (1John 4:7-8).

As Paul said, "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and [He] has given us this ministry of reconciliation!" (2 Cor. 5:18).

Therefore, let us go from wherever we find ourselves today to be Christ's Ambassadors. Let us look for opportunities to share the Good News of God's love for others. And even if a brother or sister, a son or a daughter should go on a wayward course for some time, let us be there to welcome them back into the fold. God will do the turning in their lives, our job is to be ready to greet them when they're ready to receive grace and love. Let us not hold another of God's children back from living again in the household of Faith.

And Finally, let us be the Living Ambassadors of Jesus, always giving witness to his grace and peace and love for people and the World.

Let us Pray,

Lord Jesus, I want to be the embodiment of your love. I want to live my life so that others know you through my actions and words, I want to bear witness to your Gospel of Peace in a troubled world.

Make this Happen in Me–for your glory. Amen

Read more writings of Pastor Jon