Monday, August 23, 2004

A plea...Prodigal Son

I had privilege to give the sermon this past Sunday, March 21, following the Saturday global assemblies calling for peace, calling for reconciliation. The feedback I received at our little church on the sermon I prepared was powerful, positive and compelling enough to me that perhaps this is one of those messages worthy to be shared with larger audiences. I am sharing in Hope that the message itself will be compelling enough for others to share and disseminate and bring focus to an issue that unites us all on a common ground despite all the nuances of our differences in other arenas, nationality, faith, politics, positions, gender, race, and economic status.
Lietta Ruger

Verses for March 21, 4th Sunday in Lent
Joshua 4: 19 - 24; 5: 9-12
2 Corintians 5: 17-21
Luke 15: 11-32
Psalm 34 1-8

Luke 15:11-32
Jesus said, "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 he divided his property between them. 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. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 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. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 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! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands."' 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. 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.' 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. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!' And they began to celebrate.

"Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.' Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 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. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!' Then the father said to him, '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.'"

Sermon, March 21, 2004 (4th Sunday in Lent)
by Lietta Ruger, preacher St John's Episcopal church

Good Morning. As you know, I have son-in-law and nephew deployed in Iraq, so over this past year I have taken particular interest in following the events of the times since 911 and the resulting war in Iraq. Today is March 21st and do you know what yesterday was? March 20th, marking the one year anniversary of the War in Iraq. Do you know what happened yesterday? It was Global Action Day across the world with the theme "We still say No to War" and there were assemblies in towns, states, and countries across the world.

Also, if you follow the news reports, yesterday the Methodist Church ruling for the lesbian minister was a unanimous "not guilty" verdict from the church that she was not out of accord with the Methodist Church view of Christian teachings.

What does this have to do with todays verses? In my mind, it is somehow fitting that the verses on reconciliation would occur on the same weekend as these large scale world events with a united voice representing reconciliation as a sign of hopefulness. And right now I sorely need some kind of indicators of HOPE being still alive and in demand.

I have followed and researched and read so much material on the war as it relates to politics, religion, social programs, national security, humanitarian needs and economic practices, that I feel like I have taken a crash course in a college level curriculum I would label "ethics and values in time of war" 401. I came across an area of study last week that pushed me over the edge into despair.

I'm going to take this opportunity that has been provided to me since it is my turn to give the sermon and in preparing the sermon cause to reflect on the verses.................

First, I need to thank the guiding spirit and Wisdom that had me switch Sundays with my husband, he gave the sermon last week when it was my turn and I am giving the sermon this week when it is his turn. This parable of the Prodigal Son happens to be among his favorites, he references it frequently, so it is a peculiar turn that I would wind up speaking on this today instead of him. I will have a differnt take on this parable than my husband and I find it interesting that it corresponds somehow to the world events this weekend.

We know the parable as the Father with 2 sons and how he gives them valued resources to manage. One son goes out and squanders all the resources given him by the Father until he has depleted everything and rendered himself totally impoverished.

Let's look at the resources the Creator has given us in life on this planet - - all that we need is already here. Everything to sustain life and flourish exists already. The problems we bring upon ourselves seem to be more about distribution of the plentiful resources and stewardship in caring for the abundance of this planet. We do have what we need, in place already, and it reflects poorly on us as a people of God in how we manage these life-giving resources. I am speaking generally, of course, of all people across the globe and not specifically to our church members, so with the tendency we have in our church to guilt ourselves, it is not my intent to deliver a guilting message as much as offer something we share in common across all the spectrums, religion, country, patriotism, economy, politics, humanitarian compassion.

In the words of Chief Seattle: We do not weave the web of life; we are but a strand in the web; what we do to the web, we do to ourselves; we may be brothers after all.... those are wise words from another culture of people in another period of history who adhere to a christian-based principle in their way of life outside the benefit of knowing biblical teachings. One does have to be in awe sometimes at how Creator works in the hearts of mankind. We might do well as a global nation to heed the wisdom of the Native American ways when it comes to stewardship of Mother Earth.

I'm going to tell you now about a devastating use of resources that affects us all in every corner of the world. In the aggression of War in Iraq, back in 1991 and again now in Afghanistran and Iraq and where-ever else our country may take the direction of these war efforts has truly released an evil in it's own right, and I am very, very concerned it is a genie we cannot put back into the bottle. The military weapons being used contain Depleted Uranium, which in effect is not depleted of anything and if anything is more concentrated uranium radiation. It is a material used in the tanks, aircraft and munitions and when it is exploded it releases active uranium radiation into the air which is breathed into the human body. One article I read tries to show the significance of breathing in a drop of this stuff as an equivalent to having 1 xray an hour, every hour for the rest of your life. The results are as devastating as anything you ever saw or read from the 1950's and 1960's about atomic radiation.

The Gulf War 1 veterans from 1991 are now sick with radiation poisoning to the point of being totally disabled by the ages of 30 and children being born to these veterans are with disfigurements such as no arms, no legs, no ears, disfigured faces, organs that are not there or are not where they are supposed to be in the human body. In Iraq, now, babies are being born that are so grotesquely malformed they do not resemble anything human. This has been ongoing since 1991. Now in a few weeks our soldiers in Iraq will be returning home after serving a year in Iraq and the replacement troops are being sent in to do their tour of duty in Iraq. Approximately 150,000 troops will be coming home and approximately 200,000 troops will be sent in as replacements and most of those will be Reserves which are not trained for active combat.

What is among the first things the returning soldiers are going to do when they get home to their loved ones, wives, girlfriends?

And weeks or months from now there will be new conceptions, new births, new babies, new generation. Our young now will quite likely meet and form relationships with returning soldiers over the months and years to come, and quite likely begin is human nature to do so. I am speaking now to our country, the USA; and what of all the other countries that have sent troops? What of the civilians who have gone to Afghan and Iraq for non-military reasons and what of the Afghan and Iraqi people themselves, and what of all that air-borne uranium radiation now floating around the world?

The beautiful resources given us have been so disrespected and abused and mis-used that I hope when we realize how completely we have exhausted our resources, we will feel as the son in the parable feels and return repentant and humbled to our Father believing we deserve no more than what is rationed to the low station of the servants. And I hope Father will welcome us and embrace us and restore to us what we have carelessly squandered away in foolish endeavors. The brother in the parable who takes issue with the reconciliation of the foolish son , the Father sets straight in telling him that which was lost has been found; that which is dead is alive again.

I hope with all my heart and it is about the last vestige of hope I have that we as a global people of God will come to our senses and come home in humbleness of heart for our foolish wastefulness of God's abundant resources and find what we have lost come alive again...that which we have made dead. I pray this parable teaching of the Christ imprints itself in our hearts and guides us all to reconciliation.

On a lighter note, I also pray the Great Mother, as mothers are prone to do typically, will help us, the children to clean up the mess we have made.

Please today, remember the words I have tried to bring into focus - - Depleted Uranium - - and do a little investigation for yourselves, share the information because no one else is sharing it with all those who will be affected, have been affected. Give our young generations and new generations to come an "informed" chance to nourish and help them bear the consequences of our present level of insane destruction. And I do fervently pray for our President to hear the call and heed this Christ-teaching, return to the Father's grace and lead us in life-giving rather than death-making pursuits, lead us to reconciliation.

In the Name of the One,

(thank you for indulging me in my plea of today's sermon)

Courage doesn't always shout. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says, "I will try again tomorrow."

No comments:

President George W. Bush's statement in March 2006 after 3 yrs of war "a future President will have to resolve war in Iraq"


Related Posts with Thumbnails