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4 Lent - Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

(Brian): Since churches seem to care most about who's grumbling, who were the scribes

and the Pharisees?

Scribes were scholars, the guardians of God's word, protectors of the integrity of the sacred text.

Pharisees were dedicated interpreters and teachers of God's word, helping regular people

apply it properly and practically in daily life.

Around here, we rely on scribes in the office and Pharisees in our preschool classrooms.

Their dedication to their craft, reliability, and responsibility are essential for keeping doors and minds and hearts open.

They are obviously cast in Jesus's story as the older brother, so please notice that without him, there would be no fraction of the farm left to support the prodigal father or to

provide the younger son a place to return.

Eating with sinners and tax collectors, Jesus is also biting hands dedicated to feeding God's people.

Without them, so many more of God's precious people would be lost—and we name ourselves Shepherd of the Valley as a reminder that it is our calling to help keep people from being lost.

(Kenny): I beg to differ.

(Brian): You're still begging!

(Kenny): But I'm not starving. And you are still out standing in your field.

(Brian): Ladies and gentlemen, live from New York, it's Prodigal Son!

(Kenny): Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Brian, get lost.

No really, I mean that, for your own good.

We've all been told that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The secret is that the road to heaven is paved with bad intentions.

Friends, your pastor has informed me I don't have enough time to list them all.

So let me take you on a road trip instead.

Let's follow the wisdom of Metallica: Exit light; enter night.

Take my hand, we're off to never never land... because you can't get found unless you get lost.

As many of you know, I packed up a car with everything I could fit into it and kissed two jobs, two bands, family, friends, my church, the rest of my earthly possessions, and even my children goodbye to "run off and play rock star" all the way across the country.

I was accused of both courage and stupidity, but you cannot accuse me of originality.

For me, leaving home and squandering what I had was not a one time experience;

it's a lifestyle choice.

The band I left home to join in New York is the same one that kicked me out ten years ago in Texas.

So I left and returned to Colorado, near my children, in hopes of establishing stability ...

by joining a band.

It wasn't long before famine hit, and I found myself stealing Ritz crackers from my guitar player's pantry, so he kicked me out of the band and off his couch.

He was right on both counts.

Now, with no food or shelter, I'd gone from Metallica to Dire Straits.

I was living in my car in a Colorado winter with nothing to eat but my pride.

There was nothing left to do—believe me, I tried everything else—but to call home and beg for gas money.

I made it a thousand miles from Colorado Springs to Pearblossom, California, about 65

miles shy of home.

The gas tank, the wallet, and I were on empty, and I had just blown a tire.

I did not have a spare, or triple A, or any willpower left to find a way.

My hopes were as shredded as my back left tire.

I was on the side of the road, broken down ... and so was my car.

There was nothing left to do but call home again.

Dad raced out the door.

Half an eternity later, I recognized the rumble of my father's second generation flatbed chariot.

How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.

Amazing grace dismounted his trusty steed and ran toward me.

The look on his face... there are no words for it except maybe grace and peace and home.

I'll never forget that hug or the tears in his shining eyes.

The car, the tire, the questions, the finances, the failures were all forgotten.

We found a coffee shop because we had to eat and celebrate.

We were together, and we both knew that nothing else matters.


(Brian): I beg to differ.

There is no happy ending here because there's still a lost son in this story.

While you two were partying, I was working.

Which is why in Jesus' story the father leaves behind the party he's been dreaming about and hoping against hope to throw for years.

The younger son came back first; the older one still has not.

His distant country is a mental desert where he can never earn his father's favor,

can never do enough, can never relax or celebrate because it all depends on him.

He can't go home because home is work and grace and peace are too irresponsible to

risk.

So grace runs out to him and listens to his crap.

Peace absorbs his fury and his pain at the bankruptcy of fairness.

And then, desperately trying to bring home his lost son, home brings home the point: 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.

Silence.

Jesus looks into the angry eyes of the scribes and Pharisees and says nothing more.

Because his story has led them to right now.

It's their choice what happens next.

Jesus leaves it to the older brother to write the ending.

Little brother, welcome home.

(hug)

(Kenny): Big brother, welcome home.

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