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We, the prodigal people


“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.” Luke 15:11-13

We, the prodigal people, are squandering our earthly inheritance.

After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. (v 14-16) pink pig

When will our hunger leave us desperately longing, even for food fit for pigs?

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. (v 17-20a)

When will we come to our senses? 

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  (v. 20b-21)

There will be a sensational celebration that day!

In our new sensation…

We will see,
shade by shade and color by color,
without presumption or conclusion.

We will hear,
word by word and sound upon sound,
without any hint of assumption.

We will smell,
scent by scent and odor by odor,
without recollection or revulsion.

We will taste,
bitter and sour, salty and sweet,
without hunger or apprehension.

We will touch,
soft and tender, harsh and painful,
without reluctance or anesthetization.

What will I do when I come to my senses? What will you?

For only then will we, the prodigal people,
realize just how far we’ve gone,
and decide it’s time to come home.


Communion Running

Let no one say that running is not worship. I went for a Communion Run this morning. Yep, right there, as the roadside gravel crunched under my feet, I sang …

eat this bread, drink this wine,
trust in me and you will not thirst.

Works well if you have shortish strides and no place really to go.

And wouldn’t you know He even tossed in a bit of baptismal rain that threatened a downpour and spurred me to move spritely up the hill and quickly home?

Perhaps this is just an Easter event. Being that it’s Easter and I just attended the sunrise service.

I remember the sunrise last Easter. It actually rose during the service, as it’s meant to. We bowed our heads for prayer and when we looked up the sun peeked back at us. Not this morning. This morning was cool, cloud-covered and dry. The only hint of sunrise were a few wisps of pink off in the eastern sky. I willed them to be more, but they didn’t comply.

Oddly, as the service ended with the final hymn printed in our bulletin, I didn’t have trouble reading the words as I had for the opening hymn. Now, by the light of the sun I couldn’t see, I could see to read the words more clearly.

Somehow, instead of disappointing, I find this both miraculous and just as it should be. I know the risen Lord by way of His facilitation of my sight, my sound, my taste and touch and smell.

And why not on the road as I plod along in my Saucony’s? The rain doesn’t bother me at all. In fact I revel in it. Cleansing. Renewing. Changing rain. I’ve a hat and a jacket and two legs that will carry me forward.

And the mind it does whir. That’s creativity calling. It comes unbidden – in fact it almost never comes when I call it – and I stop to put down my water bottle in order to extract the sticky notes and pen that are nestled in my front jacket pouch. I just hope I can read what I’ve written by the time I get home. I hope it makes any sense. Because creativity has its own language. What seems to make sense at the moment of illumination is foreign even some minutes later.

Alas, I am a bit odd about this I know. But it is my bread and it is my wine. And today I am not thirsty. And neither will I be tomorrow. With thanks to John Indermark I know what’s happened. I have been Eastered. He writes…

“Holy Jesus, risen Christ, having shaken off the tomb and death: write your raising in the handwriting of my life. Grace me to live an Eastered life for the sake of the world you love. Amen.”

He is not here. He is risen.

Have you seen the DQ Duckie?

Have you seen the ducks at Dairy Queen?

Ducks come in all flavors. Dipped and regular.

Ducks come in all flavors. Dipped and regular.

See them? Go ahead. Look carefully. See the eye, the beak, the fluffy little body? You see it now, right? Had you seen it before?

I can’t go to Dairy Queen without seeing them now. Just for the record, I do love Dairy Queen. Don’t frequent the place, but there’s one along the bike trail and I am all about the rewards after a good day of riding.

And that store, right along the W&OD Trail was where my eyes were first opened – to the duck. Our family sat at a small table, just beneath the advertising poster on the wall of the store. Our pre-school-aged daughter Olivia pointed to the sign and said, “Look at the duckie!”

We looked, but no, we didn’t see it. She insisted, pointing and describing the details. She wasn’t making this up. Right there in the ice cream, she saw the duckie. And finally, looking as if through her eyes, we saw it too. All the little ice cream swirls completed the heads and beaks and big duckie eyes.

Children see with different eyes. Eyes that haven’t already decided “what something is.” They are open in a way adult eyes don’t seem to be. But even in adults the child-like eyes are still there. I know because, with her help, my eyes could see it as she did. It wasn’t hidden. It just wasn’t apparent until I had a bit of help.

I think the eyes of faith are this way. Sometimes we just need a bit of help seeing what’s already there. Like an Escher painting, we need a shift in perspective to see what we didn’t initially see. Once we see it, it’s obvious. But we may need someone sitting at our table to point it out to us.

This week I heard someone say the Trinity is like this: God above us, God beside us, God within us. I probably have heard that before but it never quite struck me this way. That Christ is the “God beside us” –  opening the scriptures to us, imploring us, giving us strength, helping us see – opening our eyes to what’s obvious to Him but not yet to us.

I know the trinity is a sticking point between me and my Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters. The divinity of Christ, his membership with the three, the part He plays in connecting me with God the Father and God the Spirit, is not known to them. They don’t know “God beside them,” just above and within. The Lord and Father they know compels them to incredible obedience – just as that same Father does me. I just have the Son, beside me, who I too often take for granted, pointing the way.

I wonder how many times He has said, “Don’t you see?” And I haven’t. Or I haven’t heard Him. Or I just looked the other way. He is in the perspective-changing business, and He’s all about the opening of eyes. For some I imagine it isn’t till the end of things that His presence allows them to make the triune connection. Of course then any child could see it.

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