Sunday, April 07 2019
Father, I’ve sinned — but O forgive!
I’ve heard enough, he said,
Rejoice my house, my son’s alive,
For whom I mourned as dead.
Now let the fatted calf be slain,
And spread the news around;
My son was dead, but lives again,
Was lost, but now is found.
’Tis thus the Lord his love reveals,
To call poor sinners home;
More than a father's love he feels,
And welcomes all that come (John Newton).
Today is the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Laetare Sunday, or as it has been more popularly called “Rejoice Sunday.” In this season of Lent, we are all called to return to the unfathomable divine mercy and unbounded holy love. “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart” (Psalm 32:11). I heard this morning on the radio that one of the keys to a long relationship with somebody is saying thank you on a regular basis. It is not so much the words we say as the deep feeling of appreciation that we have for the ones that we love. This feeling is difficult to understand or describe, but we can all experience it in our relationship to Jesus Christ. The story of the prodigal son describes a love so deep and unconditional that sins and suffering turn to gladness and rejoicing. Perhaps when we have a deep appreciation for what God has done for us, we can understand how to love one another. Listen to the words of the parable this morning and know that God loves you just as deeply as the prodigal son. God’s love of humanity was shown in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So on the roller coaster that we call Lent, we should rejoice on this day. Whether we are on a mountaintop or in the valley of our lives, God’s love always strengthens us for what is ahead. When we return to God with all that we have, we receive an abundant life of grace and mercy and the peace that passes all understanding. In the season of lent we are asked to re-examine our lives and to confess our sins on our knees, but the key to this season is to then stand up and give praise to him, who loves us so deeply that we can barely fathom the affection that he has for us.
“I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen”
In Christ’s love,
Rev. Duncan Burns