Come now O God of second chances; open our lives to heal.
Remove our hate and melt our rage. Save us from ourselves.
Come now O God, release our demons; open our eyes to see
the shame within, our guilt and pain. Mend us, make us whole.
Come now O God and still our anger; open our minds to peace
Embrace our fear and hold us close. Calm the storm within.
Come now, O come now O God, shake our resentment;
open our way to choose the way of love ever revenge.
Show us a new way.
Come now, O come now O God, and grant compassion; open our hearts to love.
May we let go of all our hurt. Help us to move on.
Come now, O come now O God of second chances; may we forgive ourselves.
May we become your living sign; children of God’s love.
~ David Haas
This morning’s lectionary text from Luke 15 is the well cherished story of the prodigal son. “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” So the father divided his property between them.”
Many of us have grown up hearing this story. There are many characters, but three central ones. The father who loves his children. The older brother who works faithfully and hard, doing all what is asked of him. The younger son who is restless and wants more than he can see around him.
Why do you suppose the story is thrown into the middle of our Lenten journey? What is it about this story, that matters to us today? What is it about the story that invites us in? I struggle with stories and jokes I’ve heard before. I race to the punchline. I quit listening. I know how this one turns out. Today’s story offers that same temptation.
But today is a new day. When I’ve heard this in the past, I’ve taken the side of the hard-working one who does what is expected. The one who doesn’t seem to be appreciated or get his do. As I hear it today, though my heart resonates with the one who turns and returns.
For me as I hear it again, the heart of the story is the young son’s turning and returning home. For me today, the heart of the story is the moment when the young son learns that being away from his family, being away from what is his work to do, being away brings him no life. For me the heart of the story, is when he stands up and turns back towards his family. There, the father opens his arms and celebrates his wandering son’s return. It is the turning into returning that speaks to the story, it is this message that speaks to Lent. It is when he receives his second chance.
This story does a beautiful job of reminding us of left foot, right foot. This story does a beautiful job of reminding us of the ordering of things. For us to return to a place that we love, comes after we have first turned from another direction.
In this turning, there is an immediate shift. We see things a little differently. We come at things from a different angle. We are not the same, we are not on the same journey as we were just before. Perhaps that’s one of the gifts of the story: not being on the journey that we were before.
This season is filled with places of turning and returning. What will happen if we shift just a little? What will happen if we turn in just a little? What will change, and at the same time, with love… What will always be the same?
This morning our choir is singing this anthem by David Haas. It is a hauntingly beautiful tune, with power words. Ours is a God of second chances. The turning is up to us, the love has always been there and will be there when we return home.